Centralizing Residence Life Programming Online
Simplifying Departmental Processes
Before the Office of Housing at The University of Tennessee at Martin (“UT Martin”) used OrgSync, administrators spent hours processing paper forms and inputting data into Excel files, which slowed down both staff and students. At first, administrators were not interested in using another software program, but once they realized that OrgSync incorporated the tools of three different software programs, they knew it would make the department more efficient.
The Residence Life department at Point Park University (“Point Park”) thought their previous communication setup was meeting their needs. Before bringing OrgSync to campus, the department communicated to students and staff through listservs and from a group in their campus learning management system. However, once the University purchased OrgSync, Residence Life found using a better tool made a world of difference in sharing information with students.
Customizing Your Portal to Match Your Department
Both universities benefitted from OrgSync’s flexibility when setting up their department umbrella and portals.
RESIDENCE LIFE UMBRELLA
The Office of Housing at UT Martin has a separate Residence Life umbrella within OrgSync to organize departmental information. The staff is able to push down information to the Residence Hall and Residence Hall Association portals. Residents join their Residence Hall portals where they can quickly find information about events and news in their hall and receive targeted information from the Office of Housing. “It’s nice to have our own world to work with. We were able to customize the platform to fit our department,” said Ryan Martin, Assistant Director of the Housing Administration at UT Martin.
RESIDENCE LIFE PORTALS
At Point Park, there is an individual portal that only staff and student staff members can join. The separate halls and floors on campus have created their own OrgSync portals which are coordinated by RAs. Point Park also has separate portals for the Living Learning Communities on campus, giving them an online space with which to manage their community. RAs are members of their department and hall portals, but information is not shared between both.
“Any Residence Life department could benefit from OrgSync. There are tons of ways that you can organize your department and residence halls in the platform.”
Targeting Communication through Portals
By creating portals for the Residence Life department, Residence Halls, the Residence Hall Association, and Living Learning Communities, UT Martin and Point Park have been able to improve awareness for events by sending targeted communication and information to residents.
The Office of Housing at UT Martin previously used several systems to get information to students. All communication is now centralized in OrgSync and administrators can submit news posts and information through OrgSync that are targeted to specific halls. They also use the events module and calendar to promote upcoming events for residents. Before, they had used Google calendars that linked to a webpage which was difficult to navigate. Students feel it’s easier now to find information about upcoming events in their residence hall.
“We can choose what information we want to go out and we can control the information flow to students. Now, we’re not overwhelming people with things they don’t need to know about,” said Ryan Martin.
Creating an Efficient and Paperless Office
The Office of Housing at UT Martin has become extremely efficient by moving all paper forms online to OrgSync. “If it can be made into a form, it is put into OrgSync,” said Ryan Martin. This change alone has made the department more organized and efficient, which has saved both time and the headache of dealing with paper forms. “I used to spend two hours of my day sorting through reports. Now, in less than an hour I can review information instead of searching through paper files,” said Ryan Martin.
OrgSync forms have replaced all paper forms in the Office of Housing which include scheduling staff meetings, tracking incident reports, and running RHA elections. RAs also use the OrgSync mobile application to complete their morning reports and daily rounds reports on the go, instead of waiting to fill out a paper form in their dorm. Residents use forms for Residence Life awards and events, like the Battle of the Hall, where students receive points for participating in on-campus events and completing community service hours.
The Department of Residence Life at Point Park has found that moving forms to OrgSync makes it easier to manage administrative processes. Now, all educational programming submissions and evaluations are completed through OrgSync as well as housing and RA applications. Administrators can quickly review all form submissions in one place and export the information into Excel files, instead of spending time entering the information in by hand.
Storing Data for Quick Access
Using OrgSync forms has not only helped UT Martin save time and cut paper costs, but it has also created an online archive of information that can be accessed quickly. The Office of Housing is required by federal law to keep track of fire alarm statistics in its residence halls and by using an OrgSync form to fill out the report, that information is easier than ever to access. “By storing important data in OrgSync, we’re able to get more information quicker than we’re used to doing,” said Ryan Martin. The department also uses OrgSync to keep archived information for incident reports regarding alcohol and other housing violations.
Increasing Online Visibility with a Public Website
The Residence Life department at Point Park uses their public website as a recruitment tool for prospective residents. Applicants can find the information and forms required for applying and contact the department with any questions. Since the website automatically updates from their OrgSync portal, administrators can quickly modify information on the website without needing a Webmaster or knowledge in HTML. “Our OrgSync website is very cohesive. Students are more aware of what our department does and what we offer because of our public website,” said Natalie Taylor.
"I used to spend two hours of my day sorting through reports. Now, in less than an hour I can review information instead of searching through paper files."