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Newcastle students create website to combat Coronavirus confusion

Written by Current Affairs, News

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In an attempt to spread awareness of the actions various universities are taking to mitigate the effects of coronavirus, Newcastle students have developed a unique website to keep students informed. Coronavirus.degree tracks up-to-date information on each university’s status, measuring if they’re open, if they’ve moved to online teaching, and the number of COVID-19 responses reported.

Their website is currently tracking 91 universities in the UK, divided in a clear and compact layout. The page also features government-issued advice, alongside key tips on how to stay ‘happy and healthy’ during such a pressing time.

Image: Coronavirus.degree

With the inclusion of a survey, for any students who may have contracted the symptoms of the virus, it seems that their message is simple: keep as many people informed as possible. This task is by no means an easy feat, as hard work and dedication is needed to ensure any ounce of success. With the tenacity of their team, they’ve made their dream a reality.

In an exclusive conversation with the Courier, a member of the team, Callie Rendell, has given us some insight into the project.

1) What was your main inspiration for creating this website? What’s its aim and function?

Our main inspiration came about earlier this week when universities started moving to online classes. We noticed that there was a lot of confusion about what was happening, not only at Newcastle University, but with friends at other universities too.

This is why we decided to create a website that could collate all of this in one place to allow for easy comparison. Additionally, news outlets and sources were only focusing on the country as a whole or cities in general when talking about COVID-19 cases.

As we know, illnesses spread so quickly around universities which is why we wanted to create a tool that would allow students to say if they thought they had symptoms or not.

Hopefully to help put everyone’s minds at ease so they could look at their university and see how many potential cases there were. 

2) How many people are on your team? What are their separate roles?

As you can imagine, it was a significant amount of work to get the website done in 2 days so luckily there are 6 of us on the team. We’ve all been friends since first year so it worked out quite well. The roles we took were:

  • Yahya Alam – Created the front & backend of the website
  • Ciara Simms – Gathered the data from all the 91 universities we display on the site & helped with design
  • Callie Rendell – Helped to gather all this data and aided in front end design
  • James Bishop – Designed our logo, helped with data, bug tested and proofread
  • Alexandra Snook – Manages our Twitter and Instagram to promote it on social platforms
  • James Duff – Helped to gather data & promote the website

3) How do you find your information to put on the website? What are you main methods of validating information you get?

Every university has their own “Coronavirus” web page which they are updating with information for their staff and students, this is where we pull our main source of information from. Also, by making use of our own network of friends and family who study at different universities around the country we are able to get extra information that these web pages aren’t displaying.

The ‘contact us’ page on the website
Source: Coronavirus.degree

Since launching the site we also have had students contacting us through our ‘contact us’ page to inform us of additional information that we aren’t currently displaying. 

4) Do you have any future plans on how to develop the site? Are there other formats you’re considering to get information out? Perhaps an app?

The situation at hand is changing daily. Currently the only way is to manually collect and verify information. We believe that adding in subject specific details for each university could be too much for us to handle. Our aim is to show the high level approach of what each university is doing to allow for quick comparisons.

However, a key aim of the site is the symptom reporting tool so there is a possibility we could expand that in the future. We are considering extending the site with a mobile app.

The website is available in the following link, for anyone who wishes to learn more about the virus, or perhaps provide invaluable information: coronavirus.degree/index.php

The page states “Created by students, for students”.
On behalf of students both Newcastle and national, thank you for your dedication!

Last modified: 29th March 2020

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