Campus apps often include convenient bus updates.
While institutions of higher learning have historically been criticized for their failure to embrace modern technology, the rapid growth of mobile adoption — 2/3 of Americans now connect to the Internet via a mobile device — has forced some colleges and universities to jump on the mobile app bandwagon. From mobile bookstores to mobile dining halls, colleges are developing some pretty innovative mobile applications — and students are increasingly moving to the mobile Web in order to stay connected with happenings at their schools. Here we take a look at five colleges with solid mobile apps.
• Texas A&M University
TAMUmobile Apps is a suite of free mobile applications that provide a variety of information about the university. A mobile directory helps students easily find campus contacts; the courses module allows students to search and plan their class schedules; bus routes use GPS technology to help students navigate the campus; and there’s even a dining feature that serves up (pun intended) daily menus from the dining halls. The best part? TAMUmobile Apps are available for the iPhone, Android and Blackberry.
• University of California – San Diego
Like TAMUmobile Apps, UCSD’s mobile app includes shuttle routes as well as the ability to schedule courses. In addition, UCSD’s app has a weather feature, which allows students to find out the current and forecasted weather on campus. While this feature might be more useful in locales that aren’t sunny all the time, it’s still pretty cool. Even cooler is that the app also has a virtual bookstore for looking up textbooks by term or section.
• University of Alabama
The hallmark of the Crimson Tide’s mobile app is — not surprisingly — its Athletics portal. Not only does the app provide athletic schedules for every single sport, but it also gives up-to-the-minute score updates and recent news on players. In addition to the sports stuff, the app also offers an alumni section where alums can connect with each other for networking while staying up-to-date with their alma mater.
• Ohio State University
The OSU mobile app goes beyond just allowing students to choose their schedules; it also has a Grades feature that allows them to see their grades from any term. Additionally, BuckID is a feature that keeps track of what’s referred to as BuckID data, or the “points” associated with each student’s ID. This enables OSU students to check their balances in real-time and see their most recent transactions.
• Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Like many college mobile apps, MIT’s app includes a real-time shuttle tracker, but MIT’s version also includes push notifications for predicted stop times so students can get reminded when it’s time to run out and catch the bus. The app also has a QR-code reader and a portal dedicated to MIT 150, which includes talks and other resources from the 150th anniversary symposium that was held in 2011.
While the schools we profiled here have useful and well-designed apps, as of June 2011, only 15% of colleges had mobile-specific websites. Compare that with this statistic: In 2014, twice as many smartphones will be sold as PCs. Regardless of where colleges stand now, one thing’s for sure: The mobile Web is not going away anytime soon, so colleges and universities had better keep up if they want to remain current and in touch with the young people that populate their campuses.
Does your college have a mobile app? Do you use it? Tell us what you think about colleges and the mobile Web in the comments.
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