Univent, a new student-designed app, allows BYU students to integrate their Canvas and BYU Learning Suite assignments into an itemized checklist to better manage assignments across both platforms.
Jackson Vanderwerken, Univent product manager and BYU entrepreneurial management student, designed the app through the BYU Rollins Center Sandbox program. As the developers continue to work on the app, it is expected to become a safe social media space for on-campus events and discussions.
“The original vision for the app was actually to create kind of like a university hub for students at BYU,” Vanderwerken said.
Univent was inspired by the widely used Korean app Everytime, Vanderwerken explained. Everytime is a private online space for students from individual universities to discuss on-campus activities and organize and access assignments. According to its page on the Google Playstore, the Everytime app has served 3.5 million college students.
Vanderwerken wanted the app to aid digital student interaction and become a place where campus discussion, academic organization and scheduling could take place.
“We thought of the concept of a group and online presence … especially during COVID … would be nice for students to have,” Vanderwerken said.
Vanderwerken took his idea to the Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology during the COVID-19 pandemic, when most classes were still online. There he was able to organize a team of software developers who volunteered time to make the app what it is today.
“It (Sandbox) was one of the most rewarding experiences of my college experience,” Vanderwerken said.
Xander Hunt, an early mobile software developer for Univent and a computer science major at BYU, said Univent was envisioned to be a place for student clubs and campus leadership to post digital flyers for events. This feature would allow for clubs to “finally get in front of their students,” Hunt said.
Product manager Vanderwerken said this bulletin would also allow students to band together and “find their niche” in college. Hunt said the bulletin feature is still under development.
“Now that sandbox is over,” Vanderwerken said Univent “is something that will stay at BYU,” allowing the team to hone in on more BYU student-specific issues.
“We wanted to address a pain that students were experiencing. That pain is homework,” Vanderwerken said.
Vanderwerken noticed he and his peers struggled to organize assignments and know their “homework plans” ahead of time.
“I noticed students weren’t going to events because of homework,” Vanderwerken said. “Organizing my homework assignments was an assignment in itself.”
While students can access BYU Learning Suite through university apps and platforms, students are left to organize various assignments across additional learning management systems like Canvas.
Univent allows students to integrate their Learning Suite and Canvas assignment calendars. Because Learning Suite does not allow for an enhanced notification system, Vanderwerken explained classes are being updated consistently and are often leaving students wondering when and where an assignment is due.
Xander Hunt, a BYU computer science major and early software developer for Univent, explained the app combines student academic calendars through preexisting ICalendar links. ICalendar links from each Learning Suite and Canvas class are pasted into the Univent calendaring software. As each link is pasted, scheduled items and assignments are organized by date, class and even color.
“When someone invites you to something you should be able to check your homework situation first,” Vanderwerken said.
“There is still a lot of potential for the app,” Arvonen said.
Arvonen said the student scheduling feature is fully functioning and still proves useful to students with mobile devices but further app development is undetermined.