Chris Noessel > Masters Project: Free Range Learning Support> The Cavalry
Introduction  |  Process  |  The Service  |  Experience Prototypes  |  Conclusion  |  Appendices

The Cavalry

  This component of the service is called The Cavalry, reinforcing the idea that it might be called as a backup if neither SMS Reference nor your learning circle provides an answer. Upon sending the question to The Cavalry, the server first checks to see if the exact same question has been asked before. If so, the last response to the question is sent immediately. If the question is not in the database, it is parsed for its likely topics and matched against the learning profiles of other members of the service who have identified that they wish to answer questions as experts. When any experts are not themselves mobile and available at their computer, they run a small application that alerts the server that they are available to answer questions in exchange for small credits to their account. It is also conceivable that as the service becomes successful, it could support full-time experts on popular topics.

When the server identifies the set of all available experts whose expertise matches the Cavalry question, the server forwards the question to them. On the experts' screens, the question and any attached image is displayed. If one feels that he can answer the question, he can "claim" it by clicking a button, at which time the question is removed from other experts' screens. The expert answers the question as best as he can in real time, including details about where to learn more and Question Suggestions that describe how the learner might change their question to get better, or more accommodating, answers. The application sends the entire response to the server. The server sends the "where to learn more" information and the Question Suggestions to the learner's email address before forwarding the rest of the response to the mobile learner.

Upon receipt of the response, the free-range learner may need further information. If the request is immediate, the new question is routed to the same expert to maintain context of the thread. For an additional cost, the user may request to speak directly with the expert. Upon completing the transaction, the mobile learner can rate the expert for the clarity and speed of their response. Experts with many low ratings are flagged for possible removal from the system. Experts with many high ratings can be given more credit for their participation.


Description of Use

References and Influences:

  • Google Answers: Google boasts 500 researchers who field questions for a fee -- usually within 24 hours. They guarantee the results. Google Answers are the model for this service component.

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