The Daily Gamecock

USC Connect waits for comprehensive Web plan

Enhancement project promises online features, still needs developments


USC Connect’s snazzy technology is coming to campus, but no one is sure exactly when.

The institutionwide systems, including the much-emphasized calendar updates, will be phased in over the “next few years” as the university moves toward the streamlined OneCarolina network. In the meantime, USC Connect will be working on improving and adding to its website and moving onto social media this semester, according to Executive Director Irma Van Scoy.

Van Scoy outlined plans for new committees and technologies, focusing on web technology in a presentation to a small audience of USC administrators and faculty Thursday.

The highly promoted project is intended to satisfy quality enhancement requirements for reaccreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, but the timing will depend on how quickly Connect can carry out its plans for a comprehensive new website.

“Things like the publish-and-subscribe technology and the universitywide calendaring ... are going to take time to develop,” she explained.

USC Connect’s involvement with that process appears to be in its infant stages, however, as the group was assigned a University Technology Services coordinator only two weeks ago.

A number of the project’s current undertakings are dependent on the implementation of new technology, because the initiative will live mostly on the Internet, Van Scoy said.

“We’re going to develop the USC Connect website so that it can be a central place where students can go and find links to other places that can connect them with beyond-the-classroom experiences,” Van Scoy said.

The fledgling five-year project, established earlier this year, seeks to integrate traditional in-class coursework with extracurricular opportunities.

The plans include a revamped “publish and subscribe” calendar system that will allow users to subscribe to events in their field of interest, a system to track students and their experiences and the use of social networks to communicate more with them. Course listings will also include tags marking classes that incorporate activities outside of the classroom.

To support the project, USC Connect opened an office in August in the bottom of the Thomas Cooper Library and hired an administrative coordinator last month. In a related effort, the Center for Teaching Excellence hired Jeremy Lane, a professor of music education, as a part-time associate director for integrative learning this summer.

Van Scoy and her office are also undergoing a process of inventorying the university’s internship, leadership, research and other “engagement” opportunities, a task she described during the forum as “quite challenging because we are doing so many things,” referring to the number of such opportunities available at USC.

The office is also in the process of establishing an oversight council and a set of five subcommittees governing technology, engagements, first-year experiences, professional development and student assessment, which will all include groups of faculty, staff and students.

Speakers at the forum also noted that the creation of USC Connect correlates with ongoing updates to the university’s general education requirements, dubbed the Carolina Core.

Helen Doerpinghaus, vice provost and dean of undergraduate studies, expressed her hope that students would find more value and relevance within these courses with the benefit of the initiative.

“USC Connect should make education more relevant,” Doerpinghaus said, “especially those first two years when people are trying to ‘get things out of the way’ or trying to ‘check courses off a list.’”