Mobile apps at EDUCAUSE

October 19, 2010

It seemed like every company was demoing a mobile solution at this year's EDUCAUSE. A large number of booths featured smartphones and/or iPads or some sort of tablet device. I found myself constantly on the hunt for hand sanitizer, but I digress ... mobile was everywhere. I think it shows a commitment to reaching users where "they are" as opposed to making people go to a computer. I did wonder though how the push for mobile will impact the need for accessible services as attention / resources are focused on mobile solutions.

The three mobile solutions that impressed me the most came from Blackboard, Datatel, and SunGard Higher Education. In fact, the user interface for their mobile solutions thoroughly impressed me. The user experience on their mobile apps is so much better than the current web-based platforms. I think this is probably due to the fact that a mobile interface has to be simple and streamlined to work correctly on a smartphone/tablet. All of the extraneous components are either removed or placed in such a way that things are lot more intuitive. The integration of a variety of services into the palm of your hand is rather nifty.

In the near future, I think that schools will start leveraging whether or not they have branded mobile apps for their campus as a way to differentiate themselves from their competitors. It will definitely be important that student affairs units have a presence on the mobile web / "appsphere." Campus Auxiliary Services, Financial Aid, Academic Advising, Student Health Services, Admissions, Registrars, and Orientation/FYE are just a few of the functional areas that come to mind when I think about units that could benefit from having a mobile footprint.

How is student affairs using mobile on your campus? What are your metrics for success?

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