This summer, ITS Enterprise Applications and groups across campus will roll out a mobile-friendly scheduling application that enables users to check room availability and schedule events.
The new tool, 25Live, is from CollegeNET, an Oregon-based maker of web-based on-demand technologies for higher education. One of the company’s specialties is event management and room scheduling software. 25Live adapts to different screen sizes and devices.
Many University groups presently rely on Ad Astra and EMS scheduling technology, but Carolina uses a mix of tools.
“We currently have lots of different programs across campus and are highly decentralized,” said Carolina Union Senior Associate Director Joe Singer.
Last fall, Enterprise Applications started brainstorming on a software upgrade to make campus scheduling more efficient. Little did the team know that the 25Live upgrade would eventually improve the safety of the University amid a global pandemic.
Helps improve accuracy and safety
Unlike Ad Astra and EMS, 25Live will store all information in one system.
“We have a strong partnership with the Office of the University Registrar but had to pass back much information across two systems so there was a greater chance for more mistakes or dual entry,” Singer said.
25Live will improve safety. Having all events succinctly listed in a single system is especially important for University crisis management.
“The idea, in the end, is to get as many people on the system as possible so that everyone can share information quickly in times of emergency,” Singer said.
As another benefit, 25Live increases the ability to run scenario tests. Ad Astra lacks that ability.
“With CollegeNET we have the benefit of having test instance and also a clean database,” said Assistant Provost and University Registrar Lauren DiGrazia.
Testing will be an especially important feature for campus groups to have this fall to accommodate social distancing.
“We’ve had the advantage of running scenario after scenario on spaces to be able to inform the chancellor and the provost of what we’re able to do with spacing in classrooms for the updates in the fall semester,” DiGrazia said. “That’s a huge benefit and something we can’t do with our old system.”
The project began more than a year ago with a debate on which scheduling software would be best for an upgrade. This phase of the project was led by Julie Dockens, an ITS Enterprise Applications manager.
“When we first approached this project, what was critical was to form a committee to get as many vendors as we could to determine what software would be best for the institution,” DiGrazia said.
After narrowing the choice down to two options, stakeholders across campus met to review the finalists. The group ultimately chose 25Live. Then a project team formed with representatives from ITS, the Office of the University Registrar and other event-heavy organizations across campus. The team started meetings with CollegeNET in January.
The Carolina Union will be the first group on campus to try out 25Live.
“This summer, EMS users supported by the Union will be changing to 25Live,” said Change Management Lead and ITS Enterprise Applications employee Rebecca Jones.
“Right now, we’re going through a lot of training with the Union to understand and configure this program, and also to get feedback,” Singer said.
The second group to roll out 25Live on campus will be the Office of the University Registrar in the fall. Despite the pandemic, the timeline of this project remains intact.
“There’s going to be a limit to how many students are in a classroom and different scenarios with classrooms are being tested, but the project itself is still on track,” Jones said.
While 25Live can be used to reserve rooms for events, it isn’t designed to register event attendees.
“25Live can be used to reserve a space for an event, but a different tool will need to be used to handle registrations for that event,” Jones said.
Expanding across campus
Once the 25Live project is stable for the Union and Office of the Registrar, the project team will begin introducing other campus groups to use the software.
“We’ve received lots of interest and emails from schools and groups on campus asking about CollegeNET,” said Holly Harmes, an ITS Enterprise Applications representative on the project team. “In some cases, they’re looking for cost savings and in other cases, they’re interested in learning more about how 25Live can meet their specific scheduling needs.”
The project team, led by ITS Enterprise Applications employee Cynthia O’Daniel, is developing a process for other campus groups that want to switch to 25Live.
“The onboarding process for other areas wanting to use 25Live is still being developed, but as soon as it’s ready that information will be shared with campus,” Jones said.
The 25Live platform will enable users to search all of the spaces in a building and details like layouts, maximum capacity, lighting and AV features.
“We think we chose the best system out there to meet both the academic needs and the event needs,” Singer said.