Student Affairs updates OCC

By Gwenn Barney

The OCC is evolving.

Pitt’s Student Affairs will make several changes to the Outside the… The OCC is evolving.

Pitt’s Student Affairs will make several changes to the Outside the Classroom Curriculum including more marketing, removal of some of the requirements in the check list and the introduction of an electronic portfolio.

The electronic portfolio is perhaps the biggest of these adjustments, according to a number of Pitt administrators, as it will give students the ability to add video recordings and documents to their OCC transcripts.

Students will be able to input picture and word files to the portfolios, as well.

Administrators plan to select 300 students to pilot the “e-portfolios” this fall.

Vice provost and dean of students Kathy Humphrey explained that, if a student participates in a workshop or hears a well-known speaker, they can take video or sound recording of such memorable events in their college career and simply “drop” the recording in their e-portfolio.

“With the e-portfolio, students will be able to clearly demonstrate their skills,” she said.

The OCC program was unveiled in 2007 as a way for students to keep track of the many activities in which they participate throughout their time at Pitt.

OCC creators estimated that, come graduation time, students will be hard-pressed to remember each and every event they took part in during their undergraduate career.

By keeping track of these events through the OCC portfolio, students will be able to refer back to descriptions of each event to jog their memory for application and interviews.

Students who successfully keep their portfolios up to date and complete a pre-assigned number of events are rewarded at graduation with a certificate and green cord.

Despite its intentions, the OCC has had its fair share of road-bumps since its inception.

Though more than 9,000 students are currently registered with the OCC program, many students neglect to keep track of their OCC credit.

Another common problem is that students “swipe in” at an event only to immediately leave.

Humphrey said that the program is for the benefit of students, and exploitation by such tactics as the swipe-and-run only dilutes a student’s individual portfolio.

“The OCC is not for the University, it’s for the student,” she said “They’ve not stolen from anyone but themselves.”

There are no plans to change the format of the OCC to curb abuse of the program, but coordinators do plan to add greater incentives for OCC participation this year. Planned incentives include a weekly give-away of field passes for football games, special offers for active OCC participants at job fairs and exclusive social engagements.

Enhancements to the marketing of the program by way of adding a text-messaging program that will send information about upcoming events to students through their phone is also in the works.

In the first two years since the program’s inception, nearly 100 students have received a green chord.

OCC coordinators are confident that figure will improve between this year and 2012, when the first students were introduced to the program as freshmen, current juniors or  graduate students.

“I eventually want to move closer and closer to having all our students participate,” said director of Residence Life, Shawn Brooks. “I want to get as many students as possible invested.”

Brooks said that students interested in participating in the e-portfolio pilot program should contact the Residence Life office.