New online calendar integrates all campus event information

Last week, the Office of Communications, the Office of Student Life and the Office of Information Technology (OIT) unveiled a new integrated online calendar. The new calendar was created with additional input from roughly 20 academic departments as well as many other calendar users on campus. 

The new calendar integrates information about everything that happens on campus into one location, with both student-run activities and community- or College-run events. While the weekly Social Calendar still exists, the new integrated calendar system includes both open community events and student-only events in the same place. The calendar will “make it obvious what’s open” and what is not, said Benjamin Lamb, interim assistant director for student involvement.

Student Life is very excited about the new calendar. “It could be really spectacular,” Lamb said. Every student group and organization will be given a piece of the new calendar, providing many opportunities to schedule and advertise their activities, according to Lamb. Anyone can join a group on the calendar, which will be auto-verified against the College’s databases. Students can request to be group officers and thus create events on the calendar, although both becoming an officer and posting events must be verified by the administration. Since the calendar is open to the community, events must be appropriate for  a public audience, Lamb said.

Once events are created, students, who log in with their unix and password, can select either “watching” or “I’m going” on the events page.  The calendar is also integrated with Facebook. The calendar also allows students to review College events, giving clubs the ability to assess the responses to their events and use critical feedback to improve upon future activities. Users can customize  the calendar to show only what they are interested in, narrowing their selections to only “for students” events or sporting events, for example.

The calendar was implemented and launched by OIT, while Communications approved and funded the project. The calendar was created in partnership with Localist, a Baltimore-based firm that works on college and university calendars. Once the contract was signed around the beginning of July, OIT and Localist’s network and systems teams began working together. Localist hosts the calendar, but the login authentication is still run through the College, said Heather Clemow, OIT web content developer.

Over the summer, OIT’s web operations team began loading the College’s information into the calendar and styling it. Communications and OIT reached out to Student Life for input on the portion of the calendar devoted to student neighborhoods and groups.

OIT and Communications also had representatives from numerous departments providing input on the calendar’s structure, with significant input and a beta-testing period from heavy users of the previous calendar. The finished result was a collaborative group effort, designed to produce a result that answered every suggested website improvement. The change is part of a broader redesign of the College website, led by the Office of Communications.

The online space is “the College’s primary communication tool,” Director of Communications Angela Schaeffer said, “especially with our external audiences.” The redesign team is looking to improve the way the College communicates with external audiences, as well as the way it functions within the College community.

The redesign is “a team effort,” said Schaeffer, who is co-chairing the project with Scott Pittinsky, web operations director. According to Clemow, “the Communications Office is in charge of the content of the new College homepages,” while OIT’s web operations team “builds the functionality they request.” Other campus groups will also be involved. The project is expected to take most of the year. The team plans on launching a blog in the coming weeks that will detail the process and allow input from the College community.

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