New Engage platform eases communication between clubs, organizations and students

By Sam Cushing | September 12, 2018 8:31pm

Engage UP is the new-age bulletin board for students. It was launched last year, and fully implemented for this year.
by Elizabeth Lyons-Best / The Beacon

Last spring, the University of Portland launched a new student activity online platform: Engage UP. Students may remember using it to vote in the Associated Students of the University of Portland elections last spring. 

Implemented campus-wide for the first time this year, Engage allows students to view upcoming campus events, scroll through descriptions of clubs and organizations, read news from various university departments, and fill out forms like applications and fund requests all in one place. 

According to Tyler Zimmerman, associate director for student engagement, implementing Engage was the first step in streamlining information about campus events. 

“We were in the dark ages before with a lot of these things,” Zimmerman said, referring to event postings and student organizations. “I think it frustrated students that had energy and skills and wanted to get the word out about the cool things they were doing.”

Zimmerman said he hopes Engage will make it easier for student organizations like Campus Program Board, Study Abroad and other clubs to publish their events and stay organized with tools like online rosters. 

Zimmerman is currently working with senior Brandon Wester, ASUP director of finance, to install a finance module on Engage for clubs to submit fund applications and plan their budgets.

“(Engage) is going to modernize the way in which student leaders interact with their organizations,” said Director of Student Activities Jeromy Koffler. “Really, up until this point, everything has been on the organizational skills of each individual club leader.”

Engage UP has been fully implemented to ease communication between clubs, organizations and students. Video by Sam Cushing

Engage was chosen after a committee of representatives from various groups including Institutional Research, the Provost’s Office, Student Affairs and Information Technology met in early 2017 to decide among several software options. Wyatt Dykhuizen, a junior accounting major, was chosen to be a student representative on the committee.

“The only way that Engage is really going to work is if students invest themselves into it,” Dykhuizen said. “So, I would just recommend for everyone to go on and check it out for five or ten minutes even.”

The Provost’s Office is considering using Engage to construct co-curricular transcripts, meaning records of students’ involvement on campus, according to Koffler. Zimmerman said tracking student’s activities on Engage not only helps students remember what they’ve done at UP, but would give “some level of confirmation” of their activities for student resumes and applications.

“We’ve probably been talking about the idea of a co-curricular transcript or a student involvement record for easily 10 years,” Koffler said. “We had thought at one point that maybe PilotsUP was going to serve as a homegrown solution to that, but it really didn’t quite meet our needs.”

If students download CORQ, the companion app for Engage, the app can access a phone’s location to list events at other campuses nearby. In addition to the events and organizations listed in Engage, CORQ will list some events not found in Engage.

The app also has an event pass feature that uses a QR code, which is a scannable ID code that is unique to each student. The codes can be used to record student attendance at events, like at on-campus guest speakers and dances. CPB plans on using event passes for the fall dance, though students will still need to buy tickets in person.

CORQ is the companion app to Engage UP that shows events happening around campus. Video by Sam Cushing

Before Engage, the Provost’s Office and the Office of Student Affairs had been considering the online platform idea for some time, but options were limited until Campus Labs launched Engage last spring.

“PilotsUP didn’t really have the functionality to record or document either self reported experiences,” Zimmerman said. “Or for a department or club to claim that you were involved in any sort of official way.”

Nick Owen, junior class senator, plans to organize an event in the near future with club leaders to teach them how to manage their organization pages on Engage.

To help familiarize students with the platform, Owens will lead an event to demonstrate how Engage works on Thursday, Sept. 13, at 9 p.m. in the Christie Hall basement. He recommends other residence halls organize their own events to teach their residents about the new platform.

“It seems to me that the easiest way to do things is to… encourage other Residence Halls to put these on themselves,” Owen said. “And have at least one or two representative who are comfortable with the material of the platform to teach their residents.”