USG designs app to increase student engagement

ASU Tempe Undergraduate Student Government President Mark Naufel has developed a mobile application that lets users compete to win prizes by checking in at ASU events, much like the Foursquare app. (Photo by W. Scot Grey)

Students will be able to check in, accumulate points and win prizes for attending ASU events with Sun Devils Count, a smartphone application launched Friday by the Undergraduate Student Government.

Tempe Undergraduate Student Government President Mark Naufel said he developed the idea for the application to increase student involvement and create a centralized platform for ASU’s many events.

“At a school with 70,000 students, it’s hard to market your events,” Naufel said. “Everyone sees the lack of attendance at events.”

Organizations from every campus can register events on Sun Devils Count. Naufel said he hopes this encourages the creation of an inter-campus community.

“This pushes the ‘one University, many campuses’ model,” he said.

The web-based application can be accessed via a smartphone or a computer.

Students are able to “check in” at these events using their smartphones and accumulate points to compete for prizes and spots on the leaderboard.

Students without smartphones can check in by swiping their Sun Cards on machines USG is in the process of ordering.

Naufel, who is a fan of the smart phone application Foursquare, which allows people to check in to locations using GPS coordinates, said the application will be successful because students like the concept of competition.

“This has everything Foursquare has and more,” he said.

Sun Devils Count is ASU-specific and students will compete against each other to gain the most points, Naufel said.

USG is offering prizes, such as T-shirts, football tickets and parking passes to people who earn a certain amount of points, and is working on getting businesses such as Apple and Best Buy to donate products in exchange for advertising on the application, Naufel said.

ASU is the first university to launch an application like this, Naufel said.

He said he expects other universities will copy the idea and create similar applications.

Although USG was not able to advertise Sun Devils Count’s launch as much as it wanted to, Naufel said the organization plans to generate more excitement in the next few weeks.

By the end of the year, Naufel said he hopes 5,000 students will have used the application.

Nutrition junior Paris Hosseinpour said she thinks Sun Devils Count will get a lot of students involved because most have smartphones.

“It’s a cool concept,” Hosseinpour said.

Criminal justice junior Julio Yazzie said he is not interested in Sun Devils Count, because he does not use social media applications in general.

“I just don’t feel the need to,” Yazzie said.

The University Technology Office developed the technology for this web-based application.

Naufel proposed the idea for the application after his election in May.

UTO initially said the project would take a few years to develop, but completed it in less than six months after working on the application throughout the summer, he said.

Over the next few years, UTO will continue to develop the application and introduce improvements and modifications as necessary, Naufel said.

“I expect it will be with ASU forever now,” he said.


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