C.H.A.N.G.E. APP- Channeling, Harnessing, and Generating Exchanges
Kathryn Cai (<kcai>@umd.edu) and Luciana Debenedetti (<LDeb1217>@gmail.com)


The CHANGE Mobile App increases the opportunity for social interactions and face-to-face, meaningful connections between students outside of the online world. The App is purely a means to an end; its success depends on the user-generated activity, and the in-person interactions that students pursue.
Imagine a freshman who has just come to campus, overwhelmed by the myriad of opportunities available; the First Look Fair exacerbates this anxiety with all the clubs vying for new members. Most students sign up for clubs to get freebies, and then quickly lose interest. Others do not even attend these outreach events, and are much less likely to hear about (and ultimately attend) club meetings, campus events, and other opportunities. In general, students lose out on meaningful experiences and occasions to meet other students with similar interests and explore topics they would like to learn more about. Even older students may not be aware of all the opportunities for campus involvement open to them or be frustrated by difficulties surrounding finding networks that fit their interests.
In comes the CHANGE App. The App would be initially targeted at freshmen, although its overall purpose is to connect all members of the student body. The primary purpose of the CHANGE application is both to increase the availability of opportunities for engagement as well as to open dialogue between students who share common interests but are also able to bring different perspectives and experiences to the table; in general, to facilitate campus networks and interactions that draw on the assets of our diversity in order to generate new ideas and action. Users are instructed to build their profile with basic information such as year and major, dorm, extracurricular activities, the region they are from, as well as optional information such as religion, political affiliation, etc. This is the first layer, and students can elect just to have a basic profile. The next layer prompts the user to select different interests and clubs (a full list can be downloaded from STARS) from campus, local College Park, and greater Washington, DC resources as well as to fill in open-ended interests. This creates the initial ‘network’ for students to naturally connect with one another based on common preferences, campus location, major, etc. The app may also invite other students to connect onto this network based on levels of similarity. Clubs may also have access to contact students based on preferences they mark. During the first month of school, there would be several events throughout campus and on Route 1, created by administrators, to “meet your network.” Students would also have the capability to create events and meet ups of which members of their networks would be notified. Thus, there would be an exchange of ideas, perspectives, experiences, dialogue, etc. among different students who might not otherwise meet.
The App also has a schedule and calendar option, as well as GPS capability. Students input their schedule into the program, and based on their free time, they are notified of events happening in real-time, whether anyone in their network is attending, etc. This function would also allow individuals to create events and then notify members of their network. The GPS function also notifies the student of events in surrounding buildings. After several face-to-face meeting and events, students can continue to coordinate in-person meet ups through their network, based on different events and opportunities on campus. As students get to know each other better, they can discover common skills and passions, and use these similarities to create meaningful, in-person connections and exchanges that have the potential to generate new ideas on campus, ideas that then have the potential to induce action.The App can run on the iPhone and Android. It is also expandable to an online website/portal that users can access from their computers.