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BullSync, PeteSync to switch to new consolidated platform

USF students will be able to share a platform with other students on all three campuses, providing easier access to events and the opportunity to communicate with like-minded peers. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/CampusGroups

Students will be able to attend events on all three campuses with a quick scan of a QR code after student engagement platforms BullSync and PeteSync are consolidated into one new platform.

When consolidation was first announced in fall 2019, Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement (CLCE) Director Mike Severy knew the campus engagement platforms — BullSync for the Tampa and Sarasota-Manatee campuses and PeteSync for the St. Pete campus — would need to be combined so students could access events on all three campuses.

The contracts with the current platform host, Engage, that all three campuses use will end in June, and CSI will switch from Engage to a new, equally priced platform — CampusGroups.

“In the fall of 2019 we started having conversations about various platforms, ‘So do we want to stay on the Engage platform? Do we want to shift to a variety of other different platforms that exist out there?’ And then we landed on CampusGroups, and voila, here we are today,” Severy said.

Keri Riegler, director of New Student Connections and one of the faculty members involved in the switch, said the new CampusGroups platform will benefit students because it is available in the form of an app, which is currently unavailable to students with the Engage platform.

“In addition to looking at a new student [organization] management tool, the [university] was also looking for additional ways that we could strengthen engagement opportunities for students across the campuses,” she said.

“We know that students live in a mobile environment and want more mobile-facing applications and engagement experiences and so we took that lens, along with ensuring that we were replicating our student [organization] management tool and functionality to the review of the platform, [and] we landed with CampusGroups.”

With the still-unnamed interface hosted by CampusGroups, students will be able to find events on all three campuses, and then scan a QR code to get into the event rather than having a CSI member swipe a student ID at the door, according to Dwayne Isaacs, director of student life at the St. Pete campus.

“So when you go to an event on campus or anything in person right now … you have to swipe and that becomes quickly annoying so, the QR code is going to allow you to check in, which is much easier and you can do it virtually as well. So you’ll be able to check in both virtually and in person,” he said.

The team of people working on the switch were excited for students to be able to use the platform because of the way it can be filtered.

“We’ll be able to do significantly more personalization of the platform for [students] so if they have some interest in, let’s say, arts and culture, there’ll be some ways that information can be populated to their home page that are aligned with those interests,” Riegler said.

“This platform uses tags and types as a way to do that filtering and a way to drive information to students, more readily based on some of the information they’ve provided, based on the experiences that they’re interested in having, and that functionality wasn’t really as available in the Engage platform.”

Riegler also said the CampusGroups platform will offer more peer-to-peer engagement than BullSync or PeteSync does.

“There are chat features, discussion board features and there’s ways for you to find a directory and find others with common interests, or similar lived experiences as yourself,” Riegler said.

“So for our students, we feel like it’s going to create this new web of opportunities for them to connect with others with similar lived experiences, and build those relationships.”

Isaacs said the group working on the platform switch hopes to ultimately combine other platforms with this new one. For instance, they are hoping to integrate USF Athletics’ Herd Perks app into CampusGroup so students can track their points for attending games throughout the semester.

Overall, the team working to make the platform switch believes students on all three campuses will love the new platform and benefit from its new components.

“I think that one of the real benefits of consolidation for students is that students can find involvement opportunities on any of our three campuses, and with this one platform shared between all of us, it’s going to be very easy for students to do that,” Severy said.