Student application: Innovative Explore UC Courses platform launched

The initiative developed collaboratively by the Academic Vice-rector and the Data and Information Government Directorate operates based on algorithms that allow students to search for available subjects according to the similarity of their contents with other branches, or also to find courses according to a topic of interest.

A useful and timely tool has just been presented in the context of the enrollment process for 2021 courses. It is “Explore UC Courses” , a platform that gives those who study at the Catholic University the possibility of searching for subjects according to the similarity with other branches or also find courses according to a specific topic of interest.

Matías Vergara, Data Insights leader of the Directorate of Data and Information Governance explains that the initiative uses an algorithm that compares the similarity of the content offered in the course programs (description, objectives, syllabus and bibliography) and that yields percentage of similarity.

This is how the system allows two forms of search. In one of them, the students explore a course that interests them and the platform delivers a list of branches with similar content. In the second form, the search is carried out according to the subject of interest selected by the students and the system returns all the courses that cover that subject. 

“The method used in the solution algorithm is called ‘Tf-idf’ , which comes from the English term Term frequency – Inverse document frequency , which by using the frequency of occurrence of a term at the document level and at the collection level, it estimates how relevant a word or term is to a set of records, ”says Vergara.

As a result of the exploration, students will always obtain the list of courses ordered from highest to lowest according to the percentage of similarity of their contents. For example, if the word flora is entered, the system returns the courses “Native Flora” (100%), “Silviculture of the Native Forest” (97.7%), “Plant Biodiversity” (97.7%), “Ecology Forestry ”(95.2%),“ Botany ”(76.5%) and“ Silviculture of the Native Forest ”(67.2%), among others.

Gonzalo Pizarro, director of the Academic Directorate of Teaching of the Academic Vice-Rector’s Office, values ​​the usefulness of Explora Ccursos UC, especially because of the challenge that students are presented with each time they have to choose to register their courses.

“UC offers multiple opportunities (there are more than 5 thousand courses), since the objective is that there is enough variety for the multidisciplinary nature of the profile of our students. However, this can be overwhelming without proper guidance and Explora Ccursos UC allows us to bring that offer closer to them, ”he says.

On the other hand, Pizarro highlights that the tool allows to facilitate the search according to the interests that the students have, when the exploration by themes is carried out, so it is easier to find elective or general training courses according to their interests, beyond the specific names of the branches that do not always reflect all the content of the course.  

For the Director of Data and Information Government, Claudia Leiva, one of the interesting aspects of the project is that it has been developed jointly and according to the needs of the Academic Vice-rector. “We believe that collaborative work between units is key in detecting opportunities to take advantage of the potential of data and support evidence-based decision making at the service of the UC community, thus contributing to generate a better university,” he concludes.