Marketing & Communications

Rebuilding The Calendar Ecosystem

[Updated: 10/15/2010]

Understanding The Need

Communicating important dates and other event related information is a challenge for the university. Mostly because there are too many places to update calendar information, and also because the tools lack the sophistication needed to make the task simple and straightforward.

Presently there are three distinct tools, or calendar systems:

  • Events Calendar - A public Web site that allows the visitors to stay informed of what’s happening on campus. The events Web site also serves as a resource for booking or reserving spaces across campus through Conferences & Events.
  • Resource 25 - A closed system used by Conferences & Events, the Office of the Registrar and a few other select offices for managing events and spaces across campus.
  • Department Important Dates (Cascade) - A set of templates within Cascade used to display date related material on a department Web site.

Now you might read the descriptions above and think, “What’s the problem?” Well, simply put these calendar systems have issues. They are:

  • Difficult to use
  • Have a clunky interface
  • Do not integrate with other systems

As a result someone wanting to post an important date or event online has to enter that item in multiple locations, using different forms and different processes. And when a change needs to be made it has to be done on all three systems. This makes things difficult for:

  • The person entering the item
  • The people approving the item
  • Anyone trying to follow the information

The Solution

Thankfully the stars have aligned and a solution has presented itself. A group of offices across campus have banded together to establish a new calendaring system that addresses the issues of our current calendar ecosystem. The solution can be thought of in three parts:

  • Scheduler - A commercially backed Web-based solution (CollegeNet) that will allow anyone with an ePass to enter an important date or event item to a single repository. From there the item passes through an approval process and pending any approval flags is automatically syndicated across the PLU Web site. Click here to view a development instance of the scheduler. Note that this is actively being worked on.
  • Campus Calendar - A public Web site that will aggregate all of the contents entered into the “Scheduler.” The “Campus Calendar” Web site serves as the authoritative source of Calendar information. It is a direct replacement of the existing Events calendar. Click here for a preview of the Campus Calendar. Note that this is actively being worked on.
  • Department Important Dates - Information entered into “Scheduler” will also automatically appear on the corresponding department’s Important Dates section. No additional work will be necessary on the part of the person entering the calendar item. Assuming that the item makes it through the “Scheduler” approval process it will automatically appear on the site of the organization/department requesting the item. Click here for an early example of Important Dates section within department Web sites. Note that this page is only available from on campus, and the content is for demonstration purposes only.

This solution greatly simplifies the process of posting calendar information on the Web site. There will be a single location for event/meeting organizers to go in order to create, update or delete calendar information.

Timeline

Our timeline for going live with the revised calendar system is early November. From now until the launch date the Calendar team (Conferences & Events, Registrar, Systems, University Communications) will be working out the remaining kinks and developing training materials for the campus.

Training and Support

Work is already underway in developing training materials for submitting calendar items to “Scheduler.” The finished materials will be made available in advance of the go live date, and there will be public training sessions held on campus for those interested.