When it comes to the online digital space, those between the ages of sixteen and thirty are spending an average of 3.2 hours a day on their phone or 22.4 hours throughout a seven-day period. For universities, this poses an opportunity for connecting and engaging with students, as it’s no secret that the majority of those on campus will have access to a smartphone, tablet, or portable laptop. This has led many Canadian universities to create education apps and university apps specifically for their student population. These university apps offer a wide range of services, from enrolling in classes and making fee payments for tuition and books to getting access to campus security and timetable scheduling. Without these mobile applications in the form of educational mobility solutions, students would likely still participate in these activities, albeit in a less efficient manner through a mobile web browser or third-party application.
The Dalhousie mobile application, DalSAFE, takes a different approach in that it provides an integrated safety messaging system that provides security information for safety precautions in the form of campus alerts. Campus alerts provide information about campus closures, major campus hazards, and urgent events that community members, staff, students, and faculty need to know about on a pressing basis. The application has been live for over five years and has eight thousand concurrent subscribers. Features include getting access to push notifications about security updates, quick access to emergency contacts, a BlueLight service which discreetly informs the Dal Security of a serious incident in progress, and access to Dalhousie’s Tiger Patrol (free shuttle service). Beyond this, students get access to campus maps, parking information, a virtual walk-home service (Friend Walk), and information on human rights & equity services as well as healthcare and wellness services. Students who want campus alerts without downloading the application can subscribe via SMS. It is available on IOS, Android, and Blackberry.
Students who are attending the University of Toronto have access to the UofT mobile application which provides students, visitors, staff, and faculty members with access to a wide plethora of information. The mobile application combines all sources of information from the University of Toronto’s website and places it at your fingertips. You can get access to the University of Toronto’s following social media platforms Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube as well as their present’s blog, “ULife,” announcements, and important dates. Beyond this, the application does have a course finder which allows you to search through courses and see session information. You may also get access to important events, the education portal, and the library portal. It is available on Android – Google Play.
The mobile application out of the University of Ottawa, called Brightspace Pulse, helps students keep track of important updates such as news, grades, and deadlines. For students who are always trying to be prepared, can enjoy the ability to check into upcoming readings, assignments, and tests so that workload can be handled accordingly. With this feature comes a weekly calendar view, date and deadline information as well as personal events and milestones. For those who want to improve productivity, the education app provides notifications on course news, when the latest grades are available, and class discussion management. Beyond this, the application is connected to the Brightspace Learning Environment and allows you to customize and edit course details such as assignment and test percentage ratios. It is available on Android and IOS devices.
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The University of Victoria has a mobile application filed under a business called UVic which allows students, faculty, and staff members to access student academic information, campus maps, university bulletins, and bus schedules. The service is free of charge, available 24/7, and can be found on the IOS and Android app stores.
The University of New Brunswick, in conjunction with their Information Technology Services, has launched a university-wide mobile application (UNB) for access to personalized student information. Students can access their class schedules, and grades through the university application which is currently being tested, developed and improved as students provide feedback. Current features offered include access to events, news, and exam schedules as well as access to class schedules, the campus map, grades, and important numbers. There is also a searchable UNB phonebook and access to the UNB libraries. It is available on the IOS and Google Play app stores.
The University of McGill has an official campus application that is specifically for current McGill students. It allows access to calendars, events, news, clubs, social media pages, and maps. You can manage all of your classes, create to-do lists and reminders, find out what events are happening on campus, and even take a campus tour. The application does list out all of the campus’ services, provides directions to classes and departments, and allows you to communicate with fellow students right inside the app. You can join in on-campus discussions, share photographs or even ask questions. The application can be found on Google Play.
While many universities and colleges develop in-house mobile applications, a lot of them do not incorporate the best practices or ideas and end up lagging behind commercially made applications that are designed specifically with students in mind. The above six education apps are considered some of the best because they offer effective and customized student communication methods, build on school brand, offer students access to critical support resources and services, and encourage students to engage with the student-faculty body. For students pursuing higher education, there are some must-have amenities, such as easy payment methods, access to class schedules, emergency contact information, and security services, all of which the above applications offer.
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