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New app easily records, tracks service hours

Students and the organizations and people they serve now have an easy and efficient method for tracking the hours our students volunteer. The application x2VOL offers website and mobile app service hour tracking and service opportunity listings.

Campus minister Leah (Cissell) Kelly ’05 said the website is a convenient “one-stop shop” that allows students to log their hours, receive digital verification of service, and track their hours by category. Those features alone are more efficient than the old system, which required students to have a form signed to verify signatures. Mrs. Kelly would then have to input those hours in Skyward, which indicates the total number of hours served, but not the category.

Students simply enter their service hours and the contact information for the organization served. A verification email is generated to the contact person, who can approve, deny or change the hours submitted. The email also offers organizations an opportunity to comment on the students’ performance, something the paper system did not offer.

“Now we get feedback from a lot of those activity contacts,” Mrs. Kelly said.

One new requirement put in place with the new system is the student reflection section. Students must write a short reflection each time he or she submits a service activity, recounting the activity and what the student learned from it. Mrs. Kelly said the reflections offer new insights into what the students are getting out of helping others.

“It’s been really interesting to read their reflections,” she said. “Something as simple as working a fish fry can show them what helping others means. They really are learning something from these experiences.”

The new system also provides access to a service hours transcript, which students can attach to college applications. The x2VOL also partners with Parchment, the school’s official transcript provider, and students can also request an official service transcript.

Another convenient feature is its ease to record recurring events. Instead of requiring multiple signatures on paper, the new system allows students to easily set up recurring events, which are automatically electronically verified after each date.

Mrs. Kelly said some students, especially those who are used to the former recording system, haven’t embraced the new app, but most of the students are grateful to have an electronic, simple system. The new system also offers a listing of service opportunities from which to choose, and non-profit organizations can set up an account and post service opportunities.

Mrs. Kelly herself benefits from the new paperless system, saving her hours of inputting service hours. Now she can spend that time finding “meaningful service activities” for students and “building relationships with area organizations to open opportunities for our students to serve there.

The implementation process is still ongoing, and students and parents are adjusting. Parents can no longer check Skyward to see the total number of service hours posted, but will need their student’s x2VOL password and login information to check the hours. Overall, students, parents and service organizations have welcomed the new program.

“This has been a need for a long time, so I’m so excited,” she said. “It’s going to be a positive change. It helps student focus more on the service itself than on the tracking. And it keeps them more accountable throughout the year.”

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