4-year private university 8,000 students
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"We wanted to make it easier for students to access the information they need, wherever they are."
— Mickey Belote, Chief Technology Officer
Mercer University IT Partners with Students in Support of Unified Mobile Strategy
The goal of Mercer University’s mobile app is simple: “We wanted to make it easier for students to access the information they need, wherever they are,” explains Mickey Belote, Chief Technology Officer at the Georgia school. “And they carry mobile devices everywhere they go.”
Achieving that goal for a large, diverse student population was a little less simple. “We have more than 8,500 students in twelve schools across four campuses,” Belote continues. “Creating a mobile solution that meets the needs of all of them feels a little like herding cats.”
So the IT team engineered a novel solution: Involve the cats.
Belote and Kirk Bay, Executive Director of Application Services, invested significant time and energy laying the groundwork to get students engaged. But once it got started,they say, “the initiative for the mobile app has been largely student-driven. The Student Government Association has taken on fifty percent of the costs, which helped ensure their buy-in.”
Web designer Beth Hyde picks up the story. “Conceiving the app has been very much a hand-in-hand process. We have regular meetings with students. It’s not an IT-only initiative.”
As a result, the app includes the capabilities students want and use – everything from course scheduling, assignments and grades to dining hall menus and a campus safety component. “I’ve heard many students say ‘this has been really useful to me’,” Hyde notes.
The joint team is now working on the next generation of capabilities – for example, personalized push notifications. “Students are interested in push notifications around assignments and grades,” Hyde explains, “but also some things we probably wouldn’t have thought of, for example when certain parking lots are going to be closed.”
The students have also become evangelists for the app. “They’re approaching key departments in the university – like admissions, advancement, athletics – to explain what the app can do for them and line up support and funding,” adds Hyde.
“We’ve really engaged our students,” Belote concludes, “and we’ll continue adding enhancements they need or desire – providing access at their fingertips.”
Mercer University’s Mobile Strategy
- Provide unified, universal mobile access to essential information
- Partner with students to develop and evolve a unified mobile app
- Address diverse needs of students in 12 schools across four campuses
- Support incoming students to ease transition, increase engagement
Mercer University’s IT Requirements
- Integrate with SIS, LMS and other campus systems
- Support personalized push notifications
- Easy to update, manage and expand
- Apple and Android native app
Mercer University’s Mobile Partner Requirements
- Expertise and experience in building integration for a range of back-end systems
- Flexibility to continually expand to new capabilities
- Commitment to deliver consistent upgrades and ongoing support