UD college app geared toward students
Published: Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 03:05
Information Technology Services officials are looking to expand the university’s free smartphone application, which was originally launched in October 2010, to integrate information for students applying to the university.
Carl Jacobson, vice president of Information Technology Services, said the app will continue to be geared toward student needs in the short term.
“We may try to target applicants in the admission process next,” Jacobson said. “In the long term, we will probably create an app focused on faculty and staff, but right now we’re focused on students and their needs.”
He said the app, which can be used to register for classes, track busses and to check athletic information, among other things, was created because of increased smartphone popularity among students.
In order to use the app, students must have web-enabled mobile devices, such as the iPhone, smartphone or a personal digital assistant.
“This is just the beginning,” Jacobson said. “We want to create a better mobile experience for the students.”
David Costrini, manager of the technology research group at the university, said that for now, the app will focus mainly on student needs, though apps designed for administrators and staff may be created in the future.
“Students are the ones that are usually more in touch with technologies,” Costrini said. “They’re the ones you see walking around with their face looking down at their phone.”
Sophomore Alyssa Hull said she uses the app about once a week.
“I like it when I need Sakai, but don’t have my computer with me,” Hull said.
Jacobson said there is room for improvement within the current application.
“While things like Sakai are mobile, it’s not recommended for certain things,” he said. “Using it on the smartphone is going to be more limited than on a computer because the real estate is limited.”
Senior Ryan Jones said he uses the app while navigating campus.
“I use it mostly for the bus schedules because I have to go down to South Campus every day,” Jones said. “It will tell me the bus times and how far away it is from the bus stop. It makes catching the bus a lot more convenient.”
He said he is unsure if other universities have made similar apps to the one the university has created.
“I think it would be cool if other schools had an app like this,” Jones said. “However, with a campus of this size, a lot is going on and it’s important to be able to keep track of it all. A school with a smaller campus might not need the same amount of information this app provides.”
Pennsylvania State University’s app, PSU Live, is used as an official news source for students in University Park. However, it focuses more on breaking news, rather than academic needs, and separate apps are available for services like bus schedules.
Joy Lynam, director of web development for the university, stated in an email message that the app was developed internally, rather than hiring an outside company to develop the system. By doing so, officials could minimize costs, she said.
“Our applications are customized to UD students, not generalized for mass consumption and we can develop them at a lower cost,” Lynam said. “We have hundreds of applications, many of which are integrated into decision support systems for full, self-service usage like class registration.”
Jacobson also said that independently developing the app saved the university money. While a per student fee for the app is currently assessed, university officials would have to pay a one-time cost as well as an annual license fee if they let an outside company take over.
He also said various outside companies are actively attempting to sell the university additions to its app.
“I get about six contacts a day from people trying to sell software,” he said.
Not all students are convinced that the app is necessary. Sophomore Andrew Korovich said he never uses the technology because his phone can access the university’s homepage on its internet browser.
“I think having the information available is important, but I don’t think we necessarily need an app to get it,” Korovich said.