Engage collects and maintains a wide variety of user (ex: names), engagement (membership), usage (last login), and meta (categories) data that help users use the system, and administrators make data-informed decisions about their programs and services. This data is displayed in the website and in reports via the user interface.
Engage also offers various data services so that other software systems can access and publish data to Engage in order to create better user experiences or to mix data together for more insightful analysis.
What are data services?
Data services are methods and technologies that allow a software system, like Engage, to accept and share data with other systems in an automated manner. Data services allow software developers to teach multiple systems to “talk” to one another using a common language.
What data services does Engage offer?
Engage offers various data services depending on the software license that the institution holds:
- The Opportunity Wall Widget allows administrators to embed a feed of Engage events and organizations on an external web page. This widget allows for limited customization exclusively of its size.
- Public Data Feeds are standardized across the internet and can be used in a variety of integrations to "subscribe" a website to new content from Engage. However, these feeds are necessarily uniform and public. Engage offers public Events and public News data feeds through Really Simple Syndication (RSS) as well as an additional public Events data feed through the Internet Calendaring and Scheduling Core Object Specification (iCalendar or "iCal"). Learn more about RSS and iCal feeds in this article about sharing Engage Events information with an external calendar.
- Automated User Imports leverage an Engage template of available user account fields and an automated secure file transfer protocol (sFTP) to populate accounts on Engage on a nighly, weekly, or monthly basis. This tool can be used to create a user's account in Engage prior to the user logging in for the first time, and/or to add demographic or enrollment information to a user's profile. Although users can also be updated by the API (below), an automated user import is the best solution to regularly update all users across all 70 users fields, whereas API provides a method of targeting specific sets of users to update in real time only the most key information (about 8 fields). Check with your account manager to confirm if Automated User Imports are included in your contract.
- The Application Programming Interface (API) offers a reliable method to integrate systems in near real-time for a long duration due to its stability and security. Members use the Engage API to integrate data with student information systems, digital signage boards, student success systems, and more. APIs do require significant technical competency and time to read documentation, design the integration, write the integration, and develop tests to ensure the integration is working properly. Check with your account manager to confirm if API access is included in your contract.
What are practical examples of using Engage's data services for an institution?
Show Engage events in Outlook or Gmail
Suppose a space reservation office is interested in having Engage events appear on their Outlook calendar so that they can quickly double check capacity and records between systems. Both Outlook and Gmail can subscribe to an iCal feed, requiring no technical resources at all to make this possible.
Capture enrollment & involvement data together
Many campuses are becoming increasingly interested in reporting on enrollment and engagement figures together. You can pull enrollment information (e.g. class standing) directly into Engage using Automated User Imports so that administrators can always rely upon the information included in their Engage reports. This would allow an administrator to quickly filter students who had since graduated or otherwise left the institution.
Populate a campus newsletter
Some members may decide to include Engage events in a regularly scheduled newsletter. Members may choose in this case to either subscribe to Engage's calendar via RSS or iCal, or should they desire non-public events to be included in the feed, leverage the API instead. Both of these options allow the institution to maintain the review and approval process in Engage while contributing to a complete master calendar. Many campuses have found the best visual result when using the API - consider this example from Bowdoin College.
Update membership based on residence hall
Create student success notation when a student attends an event
I'm interested in using Engage's data services, how do I get started?
All Engage licenses include User Interface Widgets and Public Data Feeds. To learn if your institution is currently licensed for Automated User Importing or the Member API, please contact your Campus Labs account manager.