New software tool takes learning curve out of finding hands-on opportunities
Student Opportunity Center, or SOC for short, collects all VCU courses tagged as a REAL activity into one user-friendly database. The system also pulls in upcoming events and opportunities from a variety of different sources (such as Handshake, Hands On RVA, GivePulse and VCULink), allowing students to quickly explore the breadth of VCU’s experiential learning offerings from their browser.
“We know that finding experiential learning activities can be a challenge for students,” Erin Webster Garrett, assistant vice provost for REAL, said. “They might not always know where to look for activities that best match their interests, or who to go to in their unit for help.
“That’s why having a system like SOC is so important - it introduces students to a wide variety of experiential learning activities and allows them to find opportunities, on their own time, that they might not have known about otherwise. SOC removes many of the barriers that stand in students’ way, and really gives them the power to find career-building activities for themselves.”
From its interface, SOC allows a number of filtering options to help students hone in on the right experience for them. For instance, opportunities can be filtered by location (including virtual options), by date range, or by activity type (e.g., internship, study abroad).
Students can also search for courses based off its REAL level, filter by topic/areas of interests, or can simply search through all opportunities by keyword.
In addition to providing a central and secure place for accessing experiential learning activities, SOC also helps the university address challenges caused by COVID-19, providing flexibility and continuity in an ever-changing environment.
“Opportunities in SOC can be easily filtered to display only remote options, and activities can be added quickly and easily to respond to changing needs.” Webster Garrett said. “It helps keep students participating in meaningful learning activities, regardless of where they are in the country, which can help with both graduation and enrollment rates.”
For faculty and staff, SOC also offers - in addition to increased awareness of their courses and activities - the ability to create their own audience segments, called communities. These communities allow VCU employees to proactively share relevant opportunities within SOC to a specific group of students.
Student Opportunity Center is currently available for all VCU students, faculty and staff, with more than 6,000 upcoming opportunities already in the system. For additional information about SOC, please contact the VCU REAL office at firstname.lastname@example.org.