Higher Ed Mobile Predictions for 2017

Submitted by on Tue, 01/31/17

Advancements in mobile are moving quickly, creating urgency for colleges and universities to understand how current trends can impact the needs of their audiences. We spoke with five stakeholders in the higher ed community to find out what their peers should focus on in 2017.

I believe that students want more predictive data that is both personal and relevant for them to make timely decisions about their educational goals. They want to have real-time information from their institution on anything from course updates and college activities to grading and class schedules. As educators, we must meet this challenge if we want to engage and retain them for now and in the future.

Melissa Harts, Ed.D
Vice President of Technology and Distance Education, Pasco-Hernando State College


In 2017, I think we’ll see a big trend of mobile-first approaches with University websites, applications, and resources. More importantly, as students and faculty alike EXPECT a mobile-first experience, Universities will need to use creative ways to engage with students in a personalized way using tools like geo-fencing, targeted content, and advanced delivery methods. At Chapel Hill, we’re looking to use our mobile app, CarolinaGO, to connect with students in the way they want – at the time they want – with the content they want. The more customization and personalized mobile experiences, the better.

Brent Comstock, Senior
UNC-Chapel Hill, Business Major


If we learned anything from the rise and fall of Yik Yak in 2016, it’s that apps that students “love” come and go quite quickly. What’s hot one second is not the next. As such, in 2017, I think we are going to see a lot of colleges and universities focusing on the bigger strategic picture and asking the question, “How do we keep our apps installed on students’ phones?” In many ways, the initial download is the easy part. Keeping students engaged and creating functions within apps that becomes essential to a student’s daily life is the (fun) challenge.

I also think geo-targeted content is going to become an essential piece of university apps in 2017. We hear from our students all the time that they want to quickly find things ‘near them.’ Food. Performances. Meeting spaces. Aggregating resources across campus and making it easy for students to find what’s nearby is a big thing we’re excited to explore.

Kate Hash
Manager, ITS Communications & Digital Services, UNC-Chapel Hill


I think there will be two major trends. The first is the continued push for schools to find the best way to use non-traditional communication channels. This won’t just include general campus messages, but very focused notifications that are even more relevant to students, faculty, and staff. This will include exact communication about events, academic status, due dates, and other information that will lead to academic success and engagement.

The second trend is an extension of the first, but I see greater exploration of location-aware technology, like beacons, to make the campus experience more immersive than ever. As the cost gets more affordable and smartphones widely support technology, such as Bluetooth LE, the use will become more pervasive. The use of location-aware technology will increase campus life by providing better campus accessibility, navigation, and awareness of resources, while making a campus safer and more informed. This won’t only impact current students, but prospective students through virtual tours, alumni coming back to campus for events, and faculty teaching in the classroom.

Ryan Seilhamer
Instructional Designer / Mobile Product Manager, University of Central Florida


When we started the MIT mobile project 10 years ago, nothing was mobile-friendly in higher ed, even at MIT. Ten years later, nearly every system has some sort of mobile capability, and if it hasn’t yet, it’s on its way. But just because each system has gone mobile, it doesn’t mean that the holistic mobile experience will be great.

In 2017, creating contextual and personalized experiences will become more important than ever for higher ed to engage with students and other members of the community. Timely and geo-targeted content and communications will enable organizations to keep up with user demand and provide them with the information they need, when they need it.

In addition, how institutions engage with multiple stakeholders (including students) will be more critical than ever in making mobile strategy successful. Traditionally, each stakeholder provided feedback and made requests to the developers. Now, higher ed administrators can provide other stakeholders the ability to directly contribute to the app creation process , with or without technical skills. This was not possible before, but with easy-to-use tools, higher ed will take mobile strategy and user engagement to the next level.

Andrew Yu
Founder and CTO, Modo Labs

To learn about more mobile predictions and trends for higher ed in 2017 and beyond, join us at Kurogo Higher Ed Mobile Conference>>


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