Here’s how to evaluate the potential for mobile solutions
Before they set foot in their first class, incoming college students face a maze of requirements and resources that will be critical to their success. So-called “student supports” abound. Yet forty percent of first-year students don’t return the following year, and a growing number report information overload as they navigate campus life amid newfound independence.
The nine in 10 undergraduates who own smartphones are probably familiar with the xkcd about it. College-aged Americans check their devices more than 150 times per day. So it should be no surprise that a growing body of research suggests that mobile solutions can play a critical role in enhancing the student experience.
1. Is the mobile app native?
We’ve all had the frustrating experience of using a smartphone to navigate a page that was designed for a computer. But when designing native mobile apps, developers start with the small screen, which leads to simpler, cleaner platforms that get rid of the clutter of the desktop browsing experience.
As smartphones overtake laptops and desktops as the most popular way for young people to get online, native design is critical for universities to embrace.
2. Is there a simple content management system?
It’s also critical to explore whether mobile apps integrate with an institution’s existing LMS, CMS, and academic platforms. The most effective apps will allow you to draw upon and translate existing content and resources directly into the mobile experience.
My note: this is why it is worth experimenting with alternatives to LMS, such as Facebook Groups: they allow ready-to-use SIMPLE mobile interface.
3. Does it allow you to take targeted action?
At-risk or disengaged students often require more targeted communication and engagement which, if used effectively, can prevent them falling into those categories in the first place.
Unlike web-based tools, mobile apps should not only communicate information, but also generate insights and reports, highlighting key information into how students use the platform.
4. Does it offer communication and social networking opportunities?
Teenagers who grew up with chatbots and Snapchat expect instant communication to be part of any online interaction. Instead of making students toggle between the student affairs office and conversations with advisors, mobile platforms that offer in-app messaging can streamline the experience and keep users engaged.
5. Does it empower your staff?
more on mobile in education in this IMS blog: