Transforming Universities with Mobile Apps for 5 Years: Kurogo HigherEd Conference Recap

Submitted by on Wed, 05/27/15

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It’s hard to believe that Modo Labs has been empowering our customers to create mobile apps for 5 years this spring!  Having also just returned from the 3rd Annual Kurogo HigherEd User Conference at the University of Notre Dame, I’m amazed to see how far mobile campus apps have evolved in these few short years. What started as a way to helping MIT students find their way around the campus in 2007 is now helping universities transform how their entire community interacts with the university via mobile apps. This year, over 40 universities from the U.S., Canada, and Sweden attended the conference. It really is inspiring to see all the great uses of the platform to transform the university experience.

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At the conference, we saw universities at many different stages of their mobile journey, from new users to seasoned experts. Dr. Melissa Harts from Pasco-Hernando State College, summarized the theme of the conference eloquently in her opening talk, “What’s the Point.” New users themselves, Dr. Harts reflected on the lessons learned while creating a mobile app for their campus amidst a sea of change (adding a new campus location and changing from community college to state school accreditation, to name a few).  After the initial launch of their app, one student made the remark, “what’s the point?”  They quickly realized that the app was more than a “check the box” exercise, but instead an important multi-dimensional tool that helps “foster a sense of community in a changing environment” and truly engages students, alumni, learners, staff and administrators.

Continuing this theme, many other schools shared how they have been able to increase student engagement with their apps.  In general the most successful apps connect users and enable them to get things done while on the go. Modules for Transit, LMS, SIS, Maps and Resource Availability (like computer labs or laundry availability) are popular and drive user engagement.  Other schools have had great success driving engagement using Kurogo Publisher to create real-time modules for current events or programs, such as New Student Orientation or Spring Weekend.  And of course, push notifications are now being used widely as a great way to keep the campus connected and users engaged with the app.

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Another exciting development that brings student engagement to a whole new level is the involvement of students in the mobile development process.  We learned how an undergraduate student team led UNC’s entire app project and how Notre Dame uses student developers to create new modules.  Both schools indicated that involving students was a win-win for the university and students—students gain valuable experience and the university adds features that students are most likely to use.

Last, but not least, some long-time users like Georgetown University and the University of Arizona shared how they are taking their apps to a whole new level by adding advanced functionality like different Personas or Locations for different users or campus locations, desktop portals, tours with iBeacons, and mobile identification, among other features.

I’m encouraged by all the exciting developments in the Kurogo community.   Add to this the release of the next generation platform, Kurogo 2.3, with features like pathfinding for maps, new publisher templates and enhanced admin controls, and it will be easier than ever for anyone to provide a great mobile experience on their campus.

I can’t wait to see how the Kurogo HigherEd community advances their mobile campus apps over the next year.

To watch videos from the conference, click here.

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