By NATALIE WRIGHT
Since the days of MySpace, the vines of social media have penetrated every inch of our lives. Every smartphone screen is filled with applications that connect users to everyone they know, everything they like and everything that is going on in the world in real time.
Soon, Washtenaw Community College students will also be able to connect with everything and everyone on campus through a social media site called Campus Connect.
The site, which was opened up to students two weeks ago, provides each student with a profile and each student organization with a fan page.
“The site not only makes it easier within groups, but it makes it easier to reach out to students,” said Pete Leshkevich, director of Student Development and Activities.
Students will be able to browse the pages of more than 30 clubs, 10 sports teams and other student organizations such as the student ambassadors and Phi Theta Kappa. They can express interest in joining a club, request more information and RSVP to events.
As students participate in events, if they utilize the site, it will also build a co-curricular transcript. The transcript will auto-populate as students RSVP to events, volunteer and join clubs. Students can then print it out or request an official print from the college to use in college admissions or job applications.
“This really gives students a nice way to take ownership of their student experience and document it,” said Vice President of Enrollment and Recruitment Evan Montague.
Students will also have access to an e-portfolio, which functions much like a resume, and can be turned into an external-facing site to send out to employers.
In addition to connecting more students with organizations, the site provides tools for better communication within organizations. With a to-do list function, contact books, discussion boards and digital forms for requests to Student Activities, clubs and teams will have a centralized place for all of their management needs.
This will make it easier for each club to organize their members and events, and will make it easier for the college to organize its clubs.
In 2011, Student Activities hosted 90 events, Leshkevich said. Last year, it hosted 360. That’s not including the college’s club and intramural sports teams, which have also expanded significantly, Leshkevich said.
“We’ve been doing the best we can to organize this growth with the systems we’ve had,” Leshkevich said, “but we really need a centralized system to better serve students.”
While Campus Connect will get its grand roll-out in the fall, it is up now and open to all students. Over the next few months, clubs will join the site, as the college learns more about how they will use it. Within the next few weeks Leshkevich plans to bring in “test clubs” to play around with the site.
“Everyone uses technology different,” Leshkevich said. “We want to meet with groups individually and assess their needs and how they will use the site.”
As student leaders and groups start to use the website, the hope is that it will trickle out to the entire student body.
“The first phase is really just to get some student – kind of advocates – using this. We’ll be working with small clubs and groups to build adoption and use,” Montague said.
The site will also be put to use at fall orientation, where student ambassadors will share it with new students as the best way to connect to goings-on on campus.
“There will be this virtual kind of orientation,” Montague said.
Leshkevich also hopes to introduce an app over the summer that will join the other little squares on every student’s smartphone screen that keep them connected with the world around them.