A map of our external partners
As a department, we engage a lot with a variety of external partners, including guest speakers on a variety of modules in our various programs, and work placement hosts for our students. Placements are, we hope, mutually beneficial for both the student and the organisation.
Over the last few weeks, one of our students has been doing a placement inside the department, working with a couple of staff members to collate listings of exactly where our students do their placements, and to produce a map of these locations. For Holly, the student, it was a good example of a real world example of data collation – the various Masters programs have kept information about placement hosts and guest speakers in a number of different ways: in spreadsheets, in email, on paper and so on. These all had to be integrated and checked, and have a common structure imposed. Like many data collation tasks, it is something that sounds simple, but takes time and effort.
Having assembled the data, the next task was to map them. In order to do so, each host location (or speaker’s organisation) had to have their address checked, and have a latitude and longitude determined, so that we could plot each one. Fortunately, a variety of web resources now make this fairly each to do; again, a task which is easy in theory, but time consuming in practice. The data were then mapped using the Google Maps API, and the resulting map can be seen as:
It is pleasing to see visually how busy we are in terms all these contacts, and the early response from our placement hosts has also been very positive. We’ll go on updating the map with future host locations, and also look towards ways of conveying additional information about what we do – for example, colour coding according to different Masters programs.
On Wednesday this week we hosted what we hope will be an annual reception for our guest speakers and placement hosts; it was good to meet them, and many of the people we spoke to were generous in their praise of the work that our students have done.
We are also currently soliciting information about the whereabouts of our alumni – some of whom are now work placement hosts! – and look forward to mapping this information as well.