As email fades in popularity, Arizona State turns to its mobile app

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Part of fostering student engagement means making information easily accessible for the entire campus community, a technology official from Arizona State University told a conference audience on Wednesday.

Speaking at Amazon Web Services’ Public Sector Summit in Washington D.C., ASU’s deputy chief information officer, Chris Richardson, said one such example can be found in the ASU Mobile App, a digital engagement platform centered around student needs.

“We built it for the student, by the student,” Richardson said.

For young adults in college, being able to seamlessly use mobile technology is important to connect with events and peers on campus, he said, as well as staying informed about classes, grades and even the weather.

“The students want everything at their fingertips to make decisions,” he said.

Before the development of the app, ASU students were being bombarded with emails from the university, but email had become an outdated tool for students, Richardson explained.

“There was chaos of all this information,” Richardson said. “If the way we’re trying to reach them is through email and they’re not using it, then that’s a problem.”

To address this issue, ASU launched its mobile app for students in 2018.

“We wanted to make sure they were engaged and finding unique ways to connect,” Richardson said.

Now, he said, it has become the university’s “most important” way to connect with the campus community, having now garnered more than 91,000 unique downloads.

The app has features for students to become more engaged on campus and stay up-to-date with important information. It includes a content management system for notifications that brings in information from all over campus, seamless access to the university’s learning management systems, class and campus event schedules, real-time transit maps and weather.

“We wanted to make sure they were engaged and finding unique ways to connect,” Richardson said. “[The app] is designed to make them feel like we know who they are.”

Richardson said that ASU plans to continue adding more features to the app, as well as improving its interface in the university’s effort to foster positive student engagement. ASU has also developed a similar app for its young alumni network to drive engagement after graduation.

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