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TMCNet:  CougSync tool gaining popularity

[September 18, 2012]

CougSync tool gaining popularity

Sep 18, 2012 (Moscow-Pullman Daily News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- When Michael Schwartz-Oscar was first approached by students who wanted to bring a tool called OrgSync to the Washington State University campus, his reaction was immediate.

"I looked at it for about two seconds and said, 'Nope, not gonna happen,' " he said.

Schwartz-Oscar, assistant director at WSU's Center for Civic Engagement, said he turned them down at first because the software did not have a system by which the service could be managed. But after contacting the CEO at OrgSync -- an online community for campus organizations and programs -- they were able to set up a service management system and now have more than 11,000 users on a customized version called CougSync. He said they have been pleased with its functionality and array of options for communication.

Students can sign up to attend volunteer projects, various events, intramural sports and communicate with classmates and professors about projects. More than 400 organizations are signed up to use the service, which is run by WSU Student Involvement and supported by the Center for Civic Engagement.

"It's easy to use, and students in our previous system had trouble finding the service to sign up for, so we're especially excited about that," Schwartz-Oscar said.

CougSync currently partners with about 200 community organizations on the Palouse and elsewhere through their online affiliations. Schwartz-Oscar said they were partnered with about 1,000 on the previous system, but they're steadily making up those numbers.

Brian Logan, director of WSU's Student Entertainment Board, said they have used the system for many different things and enjoy its simplicity.

"For us, it's especially neat, because we have over 100 students involved in our organization, and within that we have them broken down into different committees," Logan said. "And with (CougSync), we can message them all out and let them know if we have a meeting coming up." CougSync has been compared to Facebook, with its ability to suggest certain organizations for a user to check out based on their current activities, but Logan said it is more useful for event promotion because it has a more specific use.

"Sometimes there seems to be an information overload with Facebook," Logan said. "You go there and you have 30 different event requests for different things, and sometimes you just breeze over it." Brian Shuffield, associate director of Student Involvement, said he's most pleased with the extra tools involved with the software, specifically the ability for students to be able to track their involvement with an e-portfolio, a feature that launched about a month ago.

Each experience will be migrated to an exportable resume document, tracking all volunteer activities and events attended.

"They will have captured them in an informal way for them personally, but also in a more official way for things they might want to showcase as things from their development in college," Shuffield said.

Some aspects of the software are still in the process of being implemented, according to Shuffield, such as a card swipe system that could track actual attendance at events. He said they are working with the card center to try to make that happen.

"We're only a year in, and it seems like the further we get in, the more we find we can use with the system," he said.

Kelcie Moseley can be reached at (208) 882-5561, ext. 234, or by email to kmoseley@dnews.com.

___ (c)2012 the Moscow-Pullman Daily News (Moscow, Idaho) Visit the Moscow-Pullman Daily News (Moscow, Idaho) at www.dnews.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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