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IT Connect

Information technology tools and resources at the UW

Relevant Events Coming to a Mobile Device Near You

image of relevant events in the MyUW mobile user interfaceInformation overload is a challenge for everyone, college students perhaps more than most. A key issue for many higher ed institutions is how to help students find and use the information they need to make the most of their college experience. MyUW mobile continues to offer features to meet this need, and in early April, will integrate with UW Event Calendars to support students.

The newest MyUW feature, called “Relevant Events”, pulls event data from departmental calendars that run on Trumba software and shows events to students based on their declared major (see image at right). Students with identified majors will be able to see events that are relevant to their course of study. So, for example, a music major will see events published on the Music Department’s Event Calendar.

The UW Event Calendar and MyUW service teams, who created this integration, are excited about the imminent release of Relevant Events. In previous UW surveys and research studies, students said they want to see events that are pertinent to their interests.

The new feature will make it easy for departments to reach students, letting them know about events that will enhance their studies. Integrating MyUW and UW Event Calendars meets an additional goal: reducing the number of places students must check to get the information they need.

Only events that are posted to Trumba software will appear on MyUW. Currently, there is no plan to support other calendars to show events on MyUW. UW-IT encourages departments that do not currently have a department calendar or do not use Trumba for their calendars to consider making the switch.

How It Works

MyUW checks for new events every time a student logs in to MyUW. Any events scheduled to occur in the next 14 days will appear. If no events are posted on the departmental calendar, no events will be visible in MyUW. Only students with declared majors will see relevant events; students with double majors will see events relevant to both majors; students with a major and a minor will see the relevant calendars; graduate students will see events relevant to their course of study.

Some programs, such as an interdisciplinary program like Applied & Computational Math Science, include majors in math, computer science, engineering, biology, etc. Students with interdisciplinary majors may see four or five calendars that map to their major.

How it Came Together

The back-end work to create Relevant Events was largely accomplished by ACA designer Diego Bejarano, who works on both MyUW mobile and the UW Event Calendar, with help from designer William Washington and engineer Steven Devight. Most sprints between November and April included some work on Relevant Events. Brainstorming began in November, with serious work underway in January. In addition to his experience with implementing the Event Calendar, Diego drew on the user-centered focus of design work on MyUW mobile, and the priority of providing personal, contextual information that will enhance student life. Providing an ideal mobile experience is also a priority. MyUW mobile can pull event data from a hosted instance of Trumba or directly from a Trumba calendar, depending on which will deliver the best view on a mobile device.

The release of the academic calendar feature of MyUW mobile in February provided an opportunity to test the integration. Because this involved only two calendars (dates of instruction and holidays), it was a streamlined way to test how well MyUW could be mapped to UW Event Calendars.

Moving Forward

The UW Event Calendar team hopes to work with more departments to encourage adoption of Trumba (and for those departments that already use Trumba, to post more events) in order to better communicate with students about events. “We were able to map about 65% of majors to a departmental Trumba calendar,” Diego noted.

Having a UW Event Calendar to which events are regularly posted is an efficient, easy way for departments to support the student learning experience and to increase their awareness of extracurricular events and opportunities that enrich their studies.

In addition, the team is exploring the possibility of letting students “discover” their own calendar, not just limiting them to their home departments. For example, an art major with interests in science could pull events from the biology department calendar. Eventually, the MyUW Mobile team hopes to extend the integration to include more than just academic departmental calendars, such as those for Student Life and Campus Events.