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CSULB's MOBILE APP Makes Browsing A Real Breeze

A host of websites and online services are now at the fingertips of smartphone and tablet users through the free “CSULB Mobile” application that’s receiving national recognition.

In Campus Technology’s January 15, 2013 article, “6 Higher Ed Tech Trends to Watch in 2013,” CSULB’s mobile app initiative was singled out for kudos.

“Everybody needs a presence in the mobile app environment these days, so because we’re working with a younger audience, it even makes more sense that we would have an app,” said Leslie Kennedy, former director of CSULB’s Instructional Technology Support Services, who noted the need for apps isn’t just trendy but has solid support from major educational technology organizations, including Educause.

CSULB Mobile launched in fall 2012 and is available on Google Play for Android devices, the Apple App Store and BlackBerry App World, making CSULB one of the first CSU campuses to offer its app on all three major platforms, Kennedy said.

Hand holding Mobile Device with new CSULB app.

“We didn’t build the app, we licensed it from our vendor Desire2Learn which we use for BeachBoard,” said Liem Nguyen, ITSS learning technologies system administrator. “It’s a tool that they created and the beauty of it is that it lessened the development time, and it supports all three major mobile platforms. In addition, we coordinated with stakeholders on the campus regarding how the information is going to be displayed."

“The app is meant to be an information tool at the university community’s fingertips,” Kennedy explained. “We consider students to be the CSULB mobile’s primary audience and so not only does it allow students to access our BeachBoard learning management system, but it also helps them access the bus transit sites or news feeds from various university news areas, access the Library and the research databases” and much more.

For instance, students can log onto BeachBoard to view their grades and read faculty and campus announcements; visit the Associated Students, Inc. website for activities and schedules; and even review book lists by class name and place book orders online through the University Bookstore site.

The University Police link provides its phone number for emergencies, the community service officer’s night escort contact information and an information board to be used in the event of an emergency.

In addition, a map allows students and visitors to look for buildings and/or parking lots and describes where the lot is and how many parking spaces and even disabled parking spaces there are.

A variety of campus calendars also are available, and thanks to ITSS’ Ed Lara, the university faculty and staff directory mobile version allows users to click on phone numbers to call or e-mail addresses to send messages. There even is a 49er Athletics site including news, schedules, rosters and links to the full athletics site.

ITSS works with CSULB departments and program webmasters to create mobile-friendly web content. They have worked with Vu Mai, webmaster with Student Services, to create an app giving students the ability to view the variety of campus dining options in the residence halls and in the food courts. Duong Vuong, former web developer for ASI, helped create ASI apps including events, news, student government and KBeach.

Web art director Jorge Hurtado of University Relations and Communications helped design the display to be consistent with the university web look. ITSS also coordinated with many campus organizations and contacted constituents who might be interested in being represented on the app. For instance, the News heading includes the Daily 49er, ASI news, Inside CSULB, Beach Review and EmeriTies.

Like most apps, CSULB Mobile continues to expand and improve to add new content and capabilities. Potential additions include the ability for students to view class schedules and possibly register for classes; stay in touch via an alumni area including the myBeach site; and make appointments and find health information via a Student Health Center site.
Thus far, CSULB Mobile is a big hit with users, earning very positive app store ratings and comments.

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