Mobile is ubiquitous. In the near future, every institution will provide some form of mobile access. Technology solutions providers are rallying at the opportunity to provide new products for higher education. Data is being collected and decisions are being made. Student Affairs needs to be at the table when mobile solutions, strategies and access are discussed. It's not an option. The mobile train has left the station.
Noel-Levitz's 2012 Mobile Expectations of College-Bound High School Students report [pdf] contains several important bits of information and advice. Primarily, the data in the report shows that 94% of students surveyed "use a mobile device at least once per week." Additionally, more than 50% said that they had viewed a school's website on a mobile device. According to the report, students ranked the following six items as being most valuable:
- Academic program listing
- Cost/scholarship calculators
- Calendar of important dates and deadlines
- Specific details about academic programs
- An application process summary
- Online application forms
This information led Seth Odell to write a blog post about how perhaps higher education should approach mobile from an admissions-first approach. Odell's post generated 25 comments and definitely ignited a stimulating amount of conversation.
One of the comments on the post came from Dave Olsen. For anyone who isn't familiar with Olsen, he's a web developer for West Virginia University and the creator of Mobile in Higher Ed. If you're looking for examples of mobile websites within higher education, check out Olsen's Higher Ed Mobile Directory. Higher education web developers are abuzz about mobile. Student Affairs administrators should schedule several meetings with their institutional web and technology teams.
While I've already written about the moves that Blackboard is making in the mobile sphere, it should be noted that they recently released some rather nifty new functionality for their Mobile Central product in the form of augmented reality. Augmented reality was once again featured in this year's Horizon Report.
In addition to Blackboard, quite a few mobile solutions are making waves in the higher education small screen space. I met the creators of OneSchool at last year's EDUCAUSE Annual Conference. While I appreciated their energy, I was concerned that their approach, while student-friendly, might not resonate with administrators. Another major player in the mobile space is DubLabs. Initially, I had never heard about DubLabs until I was informed that they are the magic behind Datatel's MOX platform (DubLabs provides mobile solutions that are independent of MOX for non-Datatel schools). It will be interesting to see how things play out with MOX now that Datatel and SunGard Higher Education (the creators of Banner) have merged to become Datatel+SGHE. What will become of SunGard Higher Education's Mobile Connection product? The road ahead for higher education mobile access is going to be all about innovation, apps AND sites, open source, deployment timelines, scalability, "free" vs paid, lots of data, and access on any device.
How does Student Affairs factor into the mobile discussion at your school?
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