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Written by Ana Sanchez
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.
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 2020:
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 winner: University of California, San Francisco
The University of California, San Francisco easily transitioned their Accepted Students weekend into a virtual event by leveraging their mobile app. This virtual event exceeded participation expectations, even over traditional in-person attendance. The content was crowdsourced from a group of 1st year medical students on the UCSF Admissions Advisory Committee, and brought the traditionally in-person weekend to life, virtually, for 140 accepted students.
Best Health & Wellness
Recognizing apps that utilize modules or communications to highlight special programs, groups and/or resources that support student wellness.
The winner: Northern Arizona University
Northern Arizona University launched their “Be Healthy” module to provide students with tools for their well-being in one place, including: talking to a health professional, biking on campus, counseling, workouts and more! Their wellness content has been carefully their curated from various campus departments and successfully delivered in this experience.
Best Campus Marketplace
Recognizing apps that utilize Modo Marketplace for safe buying and selling among university students and community.
The winner: California State University, Northridge
The Associated Students Sustainability at Cal State Northridge is awarded the 2020 Best Marketplace Award. Their work inspires a culture of caring for students and for the environment using Modo Marketplace. Their cross campus collaboration with the university food pantry, sustainability department, and IT provides students access to donated resources for everyday college life through the campus mobile app.
Best Student Engagement App
Recognizing apps that engage students in unique and meaningful ways. Specially highlighting their creativity and capability to be iterative during COVID-19, to virtual or hybrid experiences.
The winner: University of Findlay
As soon as they were forced to move off-campus overnight, the University of Findlay made sure to continually engage their students through push notifications by informing them of important and relevant information but also interactively by inviting them to game shows, trivias, picture contests, and more!
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 winner: University of Akron
University of Akron won this category with their mobile attendance tracking feature that allows students to attend an event, fill out a survey that captures and stores their name & email and auto-submits the time-stamped survey. The student receives a personal push notification confirming they’ve been checked into the event and providing any optional links to additional resources or a post-event survey. This innovation has transformed the way their School of Music staffs over 100 performances each academic year, allowing the process to be streamlined.
Best App for the Use of 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 winners: University of Houston and California State University, San Marcos
The University of Houston is heavily utilizing X-Module in their App for their digital ID or “Cougar Card”, for handling the authentication of personas for a more personalized experience and for authenticating users and automatically redirecting them to the Blackboard LMS or to their Cougar Card, and many more!
CSU San Marcos is also heavily utilizing XModules for 3 main features of their app, including their Digital ID with photo, ID number, student status and a barcode. This is used and scanned across their campus to aid in Help Desk support, equipment rentals, library resource rentals, help center appointments and event attendance. They can also check the line at on-campus restaurants, in addition to the dining hours, and parking availability with lot information, and a progress bar that shows the percentage of occupancy.
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 winner: Cypress College
Cypress College has always empowered their students to become involved in the app development process. They held the Modo Ideathon in 2019 and the IT department immediately hired and trained the winning team of 4 students for their Modo knowledge and creativity. A year later, the students have worked on multiple projects for the campus app that include: the new Student Digital ID services, Transfer Services, STEM Program module and the XModule Service for International Students, just to name a few.
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 winner: University of Central Florida
University of Central Florida created a virtual NSO experience to increase student engagement by rolling out content and functionalities that help students during their first week as UCF students. They used Modo’s Quick Polls, Photo Stories and targeted communications to successfully promote school spirit, gauge excitement and prepare students for their UCF life.
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 winner: California State University, San Marcos.
CSU San Marcos takes the Best Overall Design for their campus app’s visually consistent, branded and well structured User Experience.
Best Distributed 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 winner: University of North Carolina, Greensboro
University of North Carolina Greensboro made their app an essential resource in the COVID-era by quickly shifting to in-app virtual events (such as NSO), empowering students to stay well and informed, celebrating the class of 2020, and fostering community while many are off-campus. They also leveraged cross-department collaboration and crowdsourced their virtual campus tour’s content from their student leaders for attracting and retaining new and prospective students. They have truly built their distributed digital campus experience.
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 2021 as we adapt to the new normal. 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 2020 webinar to explore all the innovative ideas from all the nominees, runner ups and winners.Back to Blog
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