Monash University - the Understandascope

ImageDr David Low of the Understandascope deployed Traction's TeamPage when his university-based research unit was founded in 2006. With only basic html skills, Traction TeamPage enabled him to quickly create a quality website and discussion blog:

We needed an easy to use content management system. Teampage does this very well. As an added bonus we gained a great range of extra functions. We now use Traction TeamPage to create newsletters, alert members about changes to our website and rapidly update our news and discussion blogs.

A custom "web site" style skin for Traction TeamPage was used for the Understandascope site which includes tabbed navigation on the left to the key parts of the community and their content. The interface helps mix the simple navigation of a website with the need to communicate regularly via a blog, support discussion, and perform wiki style activity like managing a list of definitions.

Traction TeamPage - Front Page View

About the Understandascope

The Understandascope is a community engagement and demonstration unit of the National Centre for Sustainability, Australia. The unit produces interpretive and educational materials along with teaching, research and consulting services. Its activities are directed to a wide audience, including the general public, professional organisations and academic researchers.

ImageThe Understandascope aims to present sustainability and health messages in ways that can be understood by people from as many walks of life as possible. The extent that we have been effective is probably due to our efforts to communicate new but livable metaphors. The big task is to develop general sustainability metaphors that will back up sustainable living practices in all facets of life, and help us make sense of why we should bother.

Leveraging TeamPage

Creating a web site 'in-house' has enabled the Understandascope to communicate these new interpretations of efficiency to its audience directly via a popular medium.

One of the Traction features I use most is Traction's 'instant publisher'. I can create a professional looking article quickly and easily and post it to our blog without having to call in our University web programmers. Articles that used to take weeks to get onto the web now take minutes to write up and place with Traction.

Easy publishing makes wiki activity such as creating and managing common definitions and blog activity such as posting ideas to promote ecologically sound business practices as simple as possible. As this is a wiki type space managed by the internal team, the public facing Definitions page does not include views to edit history and buttons.

Traction TeamPage - Definitions Wiki

The aim of the Understandascope is to communicate relatively simple concepts and ideas which can make a difference to the environment and society at large. Delivering a regular flow of these concepts in a blog keeps the audience interested and offers the sort of constant reminders that are necessary to make change happen over long periods of time. The ideas also inform the community of ideas which could become good stand-alone business ventures, or community service opportunities.

One such concept is the idea that we are responsible for our daily contribution to the general frameworks that sustain us. For example, we can make a car transporting one driver 100% more efficient simply by adding a passenger. This is a sustainability metaphor that is built out of our growing awareness of what efficiency means in the context of global warming.
Traction TeamPage - Blog Page

Behind the public face of the Understandascope are secure work areas that require a sign-in. These areas are used for team collaboration and personal project work.

"In the past I have often been frustrated by having to take stored copies of documents with me to meetings and conferences. With Traction all I need is access to a computer connected to the internet. I can then work as if I am at my office or home computer."

Inasmuch as the publishing tools and interface capabilities are important, they don't matter if people aren't pulled onto the site. As a consequence, one of the most important features of Traction for the Understandascope has been its automated e-mail digest function. Traction rapidly assembls a digest newsletter and the embedded url links prompt members to re-visit the Understandascope. These regular updates keep the Understandascope in the view of its members, reminding them of key themes and introducing them to new articles to be read on-line.

Traction TeamPage - e-mail digest is sent automatically to all subscribers

TeamPage for One, TeamPage for 2,500

Traction has enabled Dr Low to work from his home office more often. With access to Traction, he can save time and money by avoiding unnecessary travel.

My office is now truly virtual in the sense that the value of my work now lies in the manner in which it can be connected with a wider community. Working with Traction, I can organise my work in an environment that efficiently connects me outward into the community, a central aim of the Understandascope.

Creating the site site 'in-house' has enabled the Understandascope to communicate these new interpretations of efficiency to its audience directly via a popular medium. Using Traction TeamPage, the Understandascope has built a subscription base of over 2,500 members, many of whom visit the web site on a regular basis."

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