The outbreak of COVID-19 sparked concern as the number of cases grew across the country and in Virginia. To better understand and address the concerns of VCU, the university deployed a new technology invented at VCU that could measure in real time how students are feeling about COVID-19.
The technology, called Climatext (pronounced klahy-mat-iks), allows VCU’s Office of Institutional Equity, Effectiveness and Success to send out text messages to VCU students who signed up voluntarily to ask about their thoughts and feelings. The students then respond with whatever they’d like to say, even if it’s just an emoji. The system collects anonymized responses and allows the university to score sentiment — positive, neutral or negative — for specific populations of students, such as those who live on or off campus, by age, gender, race, first-generation or not, and more.