OrgSync updates offer student organizations new tools

Grand Valley State University has seen many changes on campus this year. One of these changes is the recent updates to OrgSync, a web-based platform for student organizations.

Todd Cox, student organization development coordinator at the Office of Student Life, said there are over 400 campuses around the country that use OrgSync in addition to GVSU, which officially launched the website in January 2013.

Cox said OrgSync got a “major interface upgrade” in July that examined students’ use of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

“OrgSync is constantly being updated,” Cox said. “They look at what college students are using and mimic that so there’s less of a learning curve. The difference is it’s much more user-friendly and much more graphically based.”

Previously, OrgSync was text-heavy with few graphics and pictures. The new interface includes icons that link to social media websites, smart panels that highlight information relevant to each user and standardized pages that look similar for each organization.

Campus administrators such as Cox had early access to the site so they could inspect the site for any problems before it became available nationwide. Through the help section, administrators can suggest ideas for future upgrades. However, Cox said he has not seen any bugs with the system since the switch.

“At first I didn’t like the switch, but it’s easy, increases communication and gives administrators the tools to manage registrations,” Cox said. “It’s like Facebook. The more you use it, the more valuable it is to you.”

He said he has heard no complaints, which suggests most people at GVSU like the new interface. The site has seen an increase of 2,000 users since its new look emerged in July. Cox said the numbers change every day, but GVSU currently has around 14,000 OrgSync users.

OrgSync also helped increase online preregistrations for both Max it Out and Campus Life Night this year, Cox said. More groups registered for spots ahead of time than in previous years. In addition, there were more groups signed up than there were tables available, though not all of them showed on the event day.

“OrgSync has a tremendous amount of functionality for helping (student) officers make their lives easier,” Cox said. “They can be more efficient with how they conduct business.”

Cox added that OrgSync recently created an iPhone application, and an Android application is coming in the winter of 2015.

Chad Hollenbeck, a GVSU junior studying information systems, is a technology assistant who helps student organizations use and maintain OrgSync. Hollenbeck said this is the first update they have seen since GVSU partnered with OrgSync. 

Most of the changes came through the OrgSync developmental team, though GVSU suggested some solutions to improve the site.

“We were brought in to find out how we use OrgSync and what would be helpful to us,” Hollenbeck said. “Any users of OrgSync before the update can attest that it wasn’t the easiest to navigate. This is a major improvement from the old OrgSync.”

Hollenbeck said the most helpful update is the search bar at the top of the page because it allows users to search for files, forms and organizations in a more efficient way.

“The majority of the changes were aimed at simplifying the user experience,” he said. “Unfortunately, I don’t believe the majority of student orgs know how to effectively utilize all OrgSync has to offer.”

Part of his work with the OSL includes hosting training sessions for student organizations to show them how to use OrgSync’s resources effectively.

For more information about scheduling an OrgSync training session, contact Chad Hollenbeck at [email protected].

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