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The Best Campus Apps of 2021

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Year-over-year we see academic institutions continuing to transform their
campus experience with a personalized and engaging digital app that connects and elevates their users to succeed. In 2020, Covid-19 forced schools from across the country and the world to move off-campus overnight and their app played an instrumental role in keeping all safe, connected and engaged and in 2021 the innovations continued.

This year, the Appademy Awards categories have also evolved to address the role mobile and the campus app plays in the Covid-era and highlights how schools are shifting to virtual events, empowering students to stay well and fostering community while many are off-campus. And more than ever, schools are crowdsourcing innovation, harnessing students’ creativity and cross-department collaboration to build their distributed digital campus experience.

At the fourth annual “Appademy Awards,” held as a virtual ceremony, we
recognized these digital leaders and their campus apps across ten distinct
categories. Read on to discover who was nominated, and find out who walked away with the top honors.

Without further ado, here are the best university mobile apps of 2021:

Best App for Recruiting and Admissions

Recognizing apps that integrate modules, personas, tours, and/or other features for prospective students. Specially highlighting their creativity and capability to be iterative during COVID-19 to virtual or hybrid experiences.

The nominees:

  • University of Rhode Island
  • University of California, San Francisco
  • University of San Francisco
  • St Francis College
  • Santa Monica College
  • Santa Clara University

The winner: St Francis College (MySFCMobile)


St Francis College did a remarkable work on their granular personas through the Prospective, Admitted and Committed Student experiences which allows them to better direct messaging to these different audiences.
 




Best Health & Wellness

Recognizing apps that utilize modules or communications to highlight special programs, groups and/or resources that support student wellness.

The nominees:

  • CSU San Marcos
  • Vassar College
  • University of Redlands
  • St Francis College
  • Santa Monica College
  • Florida A&M University
  • University of Utah
  • UC Berkeley

The winner: Vassar College (Vassar Mobile)
Vassar College


Vassar College is the winner for their creativity and multiple features such as their college-provided tele-health application and curated LinkedIn Learning courses for maintaining health and wellness and more!







Best Campus Marketplace

Recognizing apps that utilize Modo Marketplace for safe buying and selling among university students and community.

The nominees:

  • Sacramento State
  • University of Connecticut
  • Cal Berkeley

The winner: UC Berkeley (UC Berkeley Mobile)


UC Berkeley is creatively leveraging their Marketplace for students to claim free tickets to arts and design experiences on campus and in the Bay area, promoting students to nurture and develop their creative interests
 




Best Commencement App

Recognizing apps that have leveraged mobile creatively to complement or virtually host the Commencement experience for their graduates.

The nominees:

  • University of Central Florida
  • Northern Arizona University
  • University of Connecticut
  • Santa Monica College
  • CSU Dominguez Hills

The winners: University of Central Florida (UCF Mobile) and University of Connecticut (myUConn)


University of Central Florida‘s Commencement is a big event with 13 colleges for over 17K student degrees every year. UCF transitioned to a virtual format instead of the typical face-to-face event and leaned heavily on UCF Mobile to support the commencement experience. UCF Mobile partnered with UCF Marketing to offer: streaming of ceremony, photos gallery, sticker packs, Giphy, Instagram filters, phone wallpapers and more!
 


University of Connecticut had an interesting challenge for their app during Commencement, how to present the 10 different live streams from a 3rd party vendor at the appropriate dates/times without manual work. myUConn their mobile app to set start and end dates/times for each stream.  They also utilized the scheduling of banners and push notifications to alert users of the events which, again, was automated.
 


Most Innovative App for Communication

Recognizing apps that utilize personalized and timely push notifications and in-app banners to improve communication with students and/or various target audiences.

The nominees:

  • Assumption University
  • Cal Lutheran University
  • University of San Francisco
  • University of Miami
  • University of Houston
  • University of Texas Arlington
  • Santa Monica College
  • CSU San Bernardino

The winners: University of Houston (UH Go) and CSU San Bernardino (CSUSB myCoyote)


The University of Houston has automated the regular upload of a directory of potential authenticated users for UH Go, with key demographics to allow for targeted messaging, location-based push notifications, proximity notifications using bluetooth beacons and sending notifications to UH Go users about the launch of their QR code for point-of-sale transactions in their integrated Cougar Card module as they entered the dining hall.



The CSU San Bernardino truly wants to reach students with what is relevant to them and it shows! Retention, relevancy, and relatability are key pillars in how/why/when CSUSB manages and distributes communications to students by employing personal messaging for registration and a robust system for supporting opt-in channels delegated to other campus stakeholders at scale.




Best App Personalization (XModule)

Recognizing apps that use XModule to deliver the best and most creative mobile experiences through XModule(s) and/or XComponent(s) to facilitate hyper-personalized and unique experiences to students on campus.

The nominees:

  • Assumption University
  • Humboldt University
  • Universidad del Desarrollo
  • The George Washington University
  • Carson-Newman University
  • Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Northern Arizona University
  • University of Texas at Arlington
  • University of Houston
  • UC Berkeley

The winner: University of Houston (UH Go)


The University of Houston has launched Density Information XComponent feature that shows users, at a glance, how crowded high-traffic areas on campus are in real time. Additionally, 2 iterative releases of their existing Cougar Card that allows users to add funds to their declining card balances and use a QR code for point-of-sale transactions at the dining halls. Additionally, they release an XModule to supplement the on-campus emergency call boxes and to enhance the experience of campus safety by providing UH Go users with and emergency call box in their pockets.




Best Student-Driven App

Recognizing campus apps that empower students to become involved in the app development process, no matter one’s technical abilities.

The nominees:

  • Penn State University
  • University of Auckland
  • Vassar College
  • Northern Arizona University
  • George Fox University
  • CSU East Bay
  • Australian National University
  • Santa Monica College
  • Cal Berkeley

The winner: Northern Arizona University (NAUgo)


Northern Arizona University‘s NAUgo has been designed by students, for students. All new components of the app are designed, developed, and structured with initial student feedback and subsequent user testing. Additionally, their team engages the talents of student employees to assist with the design and development of the app, including student designers and developers.



Best ‘New Student Orientation’ App

Recognizing apps that engage students, faculty, staff, and visitors for new student orientation. Specially highlighting their creativity and capability to be iterative during COVID-19 to virtual or hybrid experiences.

The nominees:

  • University of Rhode Island
  • The George Washington University
  • Florida Atlantic University
  • Northern Arizona University
  • University of Central Florida
  • St. Louis Community College


 The winner: The George Washington University (GW Mobile)

George Washington University‘s Back-to-School persona was the one-stop-shop for the new incoming and transfer students and their families. They worked with campus partners from Orientation, residential life, and student life in order to put all resources in one place. Offering features like an orientation agenda, move-in xModule, move-in eGuide, virtual tour, IT support, and many other resources including the COVID-19 resources and communicating to students through push notifications.

 

Best Overall Design

Recognizing apps that achieve a great visual design on both its aesthetic appeal and usability. They draw their attention to the important aspects and strike the balance between a fresh, powerful design and what their users expect to see.

The nominees:

  • CSU San Marcos
  • Rhode Island School of Design
  • Florida Atlantic University
  • CSU Channel Islands
  • Florida National University
  • Northern Arizona University
  • Vassar College
  • Santa Monica College
  • University of Texas at Arlington
  • University of Houston
  • University of Auckland
  • St. Francis College
  • Fullerton College
  • Connecticut College

The winner: Santa Monica College (SMC Go)


Santa Monica College takes the Best Overall Design for their campus app’s visually consistent, branded and well structured User Experience.







Best Desktop Experience

Recognizing the best campus apps of the year that have also been iterative on accommodating for the switch to the new normal by rethinking their app home screen and resources, hosting virtual events on the app and using communications to keep their campus informed and engaged.

The nominees:

  • Florida Atlantic University
  • myVCU Portal
  • Penn State
  • Northern Arizona University
  • UC San Francisco
  • Connecticut College
  • Humboldt State
  • San Bernardino

The winner: Humboldt University (myhumbolt)

Humboldt University has developed a unique and personalized desktop experience where they have taken Modo’s platform and created a truly Elevated product their students, faculty/staff, applicants, and alumni interact every day. They are pulling in data from PeopleSoft to create a hyper-personalized dashboard experience.

Best Unified Campus App (Best Overall App)

Recognizing the best campus apps of the year that have also been iterative on accommodating for the switch to the new normal by rethinking their app home screen and resources, hosting virtual events on the app and using communications to keep their campus informed and engaged.

The nominees:

  • University of California Merced
  • CSU San Marcos
  • Florida National University
  • Vassar College
  • Villanova University
  • University of Houston
  • NYU
  • Santa Monica College
  • CSU Channel Islands
  • Carson-Newman University

The winner: University of California, Merced (UC Merced Connect)


UC, Merced empowered their students to stay well and informed. Supporting them in their career assessments, appointments, resume review and interview prep resources











Final Thoughts

Congratulations to all app nominees and winners. We applaud your
commitment to your campus community—empowering them to stay safe and connected and for elevating your students with a digital experience that motivates them to succeed. Your innovations inspire others to explore the possibilities of mobile and push the limits of how the app can foster success for their own institutions.

We are proud of you and your leadership. We look forward to seeing how you will push the boundaries to modernize the digital campus experience even further in 2022. Thank you for your participation and continue the fantastic work!

Want to see what a unified campus app would look like for your school? Request a Demo here.

Watch the Best Apps of 2021 webinar to explore all the innovative ideas from all the nominees, runner ups and winners.

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