UBCevents website getting a facelift

by Jamil Rhajiak on January 22, 2010

No, we’re not talking about botox treatments for UBCevents… As anyone regularly using UBC websites have noticed, countless websites have been following the UBC.ca front page and adopting the new Common Look and Feel (CLF), with the new header, footer and various design elements. Well, it’s now UBCevents’ turn, and we’re preparing to update the entire UBCevents site — our front page, calendars, and event listings. (This does not include the administrative backend: don’t worry, adding events will stay the same!)

We’re trying to pull this together in time for the Olympics, so it’s coming together in a bit of a hurry — but we still know that it’s most important that this site design work for you, our users. So we’d like to share some of the design of the new pages, in-progress. (Huge thanks to our friends at IT and Public Affairs who are heading up this update effort!)

Take a gander at some of our mockups and drawings of the new site below! Please share any comments and suggestions you have with us, either here or by e-mail at info.events@ubc.ca — we’ll hang onto all of them, as we’re also planning a much more intensive and comprehensive update of the website to happen after the Olympics.

Also, feel free to come let us know your thoughts at the Office of Learning Technology’s e-Learning Open House next Thursday, from 3pm to 5pm! We’ll be more than happy to talk about our work to date.


UBCevents presents a poster at the e-Learning Open House

by Warren Scheske on January 21, 2010

Come by the UBC’s e-Learning open house to visit the UBCevents team!

From 3pm to 5pm, this Thursday we will present a poster on our current service, as well as future development.  Please feel free to stop by ask some questions and visit the many great resources that will be showcased at the Open House.

{ 1 comment }

UBCevents in Higher Education student engagement

by Jamil Rhajiak on January 15, 2010

Glen Weppler, working in of Ryerson University in Toronto, recently highlighted UBCevents (among other UBC initiatives) in his blog post summarizing a lecture by Dr. Debra Dawson, Director of Teaching and Learning Services at the University of Western Ontario on the challenges of student engagement in Canadian higher education. (The rest of Glen’s Higher Education blog is a great read as well, touching  on a range of topics relevant to those working to improve the experience of higher education in Canada.)

While we’re certainly flattered and honoured, we know this is really reflecting the success of the campus community in taking up and using UBCevents to help students (and many others) learn and get involved in activities around campus.

There’s lots more we want to do, but everyone here at the UBCevents team appreciates the kind words! Thanks to Glen, and thanks to our users!


Winding down for the holidays

by Jamil Rhajiak on December 11, 2009

As can be expected at this time of year, students are wrapping up exams and heading home for the holidays. That goes for us here at UBCevents as well, but we’d like to draw your attention to a couple items as well…

Scheduled Outage for Dec. 28

While we are away holidaying, the ever-helpful and friendly elves at UBC IT will be working hard on our servers! On December 28th, 2009, there will be a scheduled outage of the UBCevents service from 6:45 am until approximately 4:00 pm.  Please be advised that during this time, the UBCevents website will not be accessible, and any RSS feeds coming from UBCevents to websites will also not be working.  We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.  All services will be returned to normal as soon as possible.

Your January events

We encourage you to add in any January events that are coming up to the calendar now.  2010 will get off to a very quick start, so now is a great time to make use of our service, and to ensure that the UBC community can see what is coming up in the new year.  We are expecting lots of viewers over this holiday season, so take a few minutes to add in your events for January 2010!

UBCevents on Twitter

Finally, if you’d like to keep in touch with what’s happening on campus in a more abbreviated and real-time fashion, feel free to follow UBCevents on Twitter. (Not sure what Twitter is? This video is a quick but great introduction.)

UBCevents at Office of Learning Technology’s E-Learning Open House

We are ecstatic that we will get to speak about UBCevents at the Office of Learning Technology’s E-Learning Open House on Thursday, January 28 at the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, alongside other innovative and excellent UBC projects. It promises to be a great day of networking and getting to know our colleagues around campus. Take a look at who else will be presenting and how to register!

Have a great holiday break! Until January!


November 25th Open House Summary

by Jamil Rhajiak on December 2, 2009

Thanks to all who made it out to our first Open House! Despite the rainy weather, we were glad to share our awesome new space here at the Centre for Student Involvement with you, and to show you what we’re proud of, and what we’re working on, for UBCevents.

There were many of you who couldn’t make it out due to scheduling or other reasons — we’re sorry to have missed you! Here’s a brief overview of what we discussed:

Recent Features Added to UBCevents

  • Sharing Events: the “Share/Download” button at the top right-hand corner of every UBCevents Event Listing page allows you — or, more importantly, anyone who’s interested in your event — to share your event through tools like Twitter or Facebook, or to download the information to their calendaring software such as iCal, Google Calendar or Microsoft Outlook.
  • Our blog: this refers to the very blog you’re reading right now! To help us connect and stay in touch with so many different groups on UBC’s campuses (as well as a great number off the main campuses as well!), we’ve set-up this blog up as an easier way for you to get a sense of we’re doing between open houses and e-mails to us. Our goal with UBCevents is to be as valuable a tool for every group using the calendar as possible, and to continually be engaged in getting better at doing this and finding out what you and your group are trying to achieve.
  • Departmental Calendaring: this feature is an arrangement we’ve started to pursue with some groups on campus —  speaking with those who attended our Open House made us realize just how important it is for many of you! It is a large and slightly complex topic, so instead of explaining it here, we will do a more fleshed-out post in the weeks to come on what this feature is, as well as how to get in touch with us here at UBCevents if you believe it is right for you.

Features on the Horizon

  • Statistics: with our backend team at IT, we’ve started to get interesting numbers on how many users are using our website to view events, as well as how people are using the sharing features (mentioned above). It was great to get feedback on how useful this feature could be and how it could be integrated into the existing UBCevents administrative interface.
  • RSS Generator: this is a web-based tool to replace the RSS Guide we currently have available, for people wanting to integrate their websites with UBCevents. This tool guides you through step-by-step prompts, then gives you the code which you can use to integrate the events you want on your website. We think this will save at least a headache or two and we hope this will be available in the not-too-distant future!
  • UBC Blogs Integration: this is a feature we’re really excited about. We’re exploring ways to give UBC Blogs users the ability to easily and quickly put their own, or others’, events from around UBC, into dynamic widgets on their sites. We’ll definitely keep you up-to-date on how this goes!
  • CalDAV: this would allow anyone interested in one or several calendars on UBCevents, the ability to subscribe to calendars in tools like iCal, Google Calendar or Microsoft Outlook.

Warren and I were glad to get a chance to hear upfront from those who were able to attend, how they were using the calendar now as well as how they wanted to use it in the future. If any of the items here look interesting to you, feel free to get in touch with us at info.events@ubc.ca, or to leave a comment, and let us know your thoughts on what would make UBCevents!


Open House – November 25th, Center for Student Involvement

by Jamil Rhajiak on November 20, 2009

UBCevents is holding its first ever UBCevents Open House!  It will take place on:

Time: Wednesday, November 25th, 1:00pm – 2:00pm
Location: Brock Hall (map), Centre for Student Involvement
Link: Open House on UBCevents

It’s an open house in more ways than one — UBCevents has just moved from our former Student Development space into the Centre for Student Involvement, so you can help us celebrate our new digs! 😉

It has been a great year of development for UBCevents, with plenty of successes.  Having said that, we are constantly looking to grow and improve our service.  We pride ourselves on being a user based service, and believe that you are our best resource to guide improvements and changes for the future.

What will we be doing at the Open House?

  • Share your thoughts, feedback and suggestions for the service
  • Find out about recent developments to the service
  • See a brief overview of the statistics we have compiled over the last year
  • Learn about and guide future development
  • Ask any questions you have about the features of UBCevents

This session is designed to be informative, helpful, and interesting for all of our users.  The open house is scheduled to last for 1 hour; however, members of the UBCevents team will be available to continue discussing the service after 2:00pm.

We hope that you will be able to join us for this exciting event. Please RSVP to us (info [dot] events [at] ubc.ca) if you think you’ll be able to make it!

{ 1 comment }

UBCevents User Feedback session

by Jamil Rhajiak on October 27, 2009

This past Friday, myself and fellow UBCevents Communications Coordinator Warren Scheske, along with Luke Kysow, our colleague from UBC IT, conducted our first user feedback session looking at a new feature we have in the works for UBCevents, as well as how best to integrate this with the UBCevents website.We held the session in a room in the basement of Brock Hall; I’ve never been there before, so I was nervous that people would get lost in the building.

Luke and Warren wait at room 0032.
Luke and Warren wait at room 0032.

Luckily, Warren helped point the way, and before I knew it, our five enthusiastic, happy lab rats users had arrived and were ready to help us out!

We purposefully invited people we knew who would fit into one of two categories: people who worked with the UBCevents website entering events or who use it to see what’s happening; and people who either already do or are planning to integrate a UBCevents calendar into their group’s website.

Chatting afterwards, Luke, Warren and I couldn’t help exclaiming how absolutely floored and excited we were by what we heard. Our intrepid users not only told us what they thought about the new feature, but also how they envision their use of the UBCevents site changing from how they currently use it, once this feature launches. They even predicted (!) a number of features that our team is already exploring and looking into implementing for the future: all good signs that our instincts are leading us in the right direction to give them — and you — what you are looking for in using the UBCevents website. Fabulous!

Luke, Daniella and Bjorn code away.

Luke, Daniella and Bjorn code away.

Now comes the even more exciting part: turning those comments and feedback into clear suggestions and changes for what’s in place, to make it that much more usable and helpful to all our users, at all levels of familiarity or complexity. The best part for me? Seeing how enthusiastic our users were to start playing around with the new feature.

…and naturally, you’re all wondering just what this mysterious new feature is. Alas, we can’t let that out of the bag just yet, but we can tell you, based on what our focus group told us at this session, that it will make a lot of things a lot easier. And we’ll definitely announce it on the blog when it’s all ready!


UBCevents on the Faculty of Education website

by Jamil Rhajiak on October 21, 2009

Hi everyone! Jamil Rhajiak here. For my first real blog post at UBCevents (though astute observers will note I had the first real post on this site), I’d like to share some of the great work that’s been happening in the Faculty of Education by their Communications and Web Coordinator, Bjorn Thomson.

The Faculty of Eduction has recently, like many units in the UBC-verse, gone through an entire website redesign, and turned to UBCevents to help manage the event portion of their website. Here are some of Bjorn’s thoughts on how they’ve used UBCevents:

Some of the benefits are immediate and others are longer-term. Potentially, UBCevents opens our events up to a much larger audience. We haven’t looked at how many more people find our events through events.ubc.ca, but we know it’s a widely-used site. We want our events to reach the public and to avoid the silo that many units end up in, where their events attract only internal folks.

Faculty of Education website screenshot

Faculty of Education website screenshot

However, I think for us, it’s more significant that we can bring UBCevents RSS feeds into our sites. It’s all about the RSS.

Through RSS, we’re able to pull UBCevents feeds into both our departmental and Faculty site. Departments are happy because they can input text once, and have it show up on the UBCevents site, the Faculty site, and the departmental site.

As a communications office, we’re happy because we’re not calling departments constantly and asking them to tell us their events for the month. And we’re not missing events any more, which inevitably happens when you have a relatively big, decentralized faculty with lots of subunits. Content is delivered, so to speak, right onto our doorstep. That allows us to plan our promotions strategy in advance (radical concept, I know) and to prepare posters and so on.

We also use a content management system that pulls the events and actually creates entirely new pages for each event on our site. In other words, we’re grabbing your RSS feed to provide dynamic content for our sites (we hope you don’t mind). This is great for search optimization as it provides regularly updated relevant content automatically on our sites. Magic!

Does your unit have a UBCevents success story that you would like to share? Feel free to send it our way at info (dot) events (at) ubc (dot) ca.

If you are thinking about integrating a UBCevents RSS feed, here are some resources that are available to you:


Now blogging: UBCevents

by Jamil Rhajiak on October 16, 2009

Welcome to the UBCevents Blog!

With all the different clubs, departments, faculties and groups on campus that use the UBCevents calendar, we decided to start this blog to give our event providers one more way to keep in touch with what we’re up to. We understand that your events are the culmination of a lot of work and effort for your team’s goals – and UBCevents is all about helping you show that off, while helping people on campus stay on top of the exciting and vibrant activities we are involved in, be it for work, life or play.

So, what can you expect to see on this blog? Here’s what we’ve got lined up for you so far:

  • Examples of how others have used UBCevents
  • Letting you know a bit more about new features we have in the pipe
  • How you can use UBCevents on your website, blog, Facebook, and in your promotional materials
  • …and other things we’ll think of relevant to your use of UBCevents!

Our hope is that the things we’ll talk about on this blog will help both current and future users of UBCevents to see what’s possible; and that it will all be searchable. We’re also in the process of building up the site so you can learn more about the talented and committed members of the team building, improving and maintaining the UBCevents site.

Most of all, we think you know more about your use of the system than we ever will, and we’re enthusiastic to learn more about what’s worked for you and your events, and what you’d like to work better. Comments will be open, so please do use it to let us know your thoughts or any comments you have based on your work and experiences.