Mobile app puts UNF at your fingertips
Everything the University of North Florida has to offer now fits in the palm of your hand.
At least, that’s the idea of the University’s new, free mobile app. Developed through a joint effort by UNF Information Technology Services and the mobile branch of education software giant Blackboard, the new UNF app comes loaded with nearly everything alumni, students, faculty, staff and donors need to stay plugged in to life at UNF.
Kelcey Rose Weimer, a senior communication major who was featured in a video to advertise UNF’s new mobile offering, said she was impressed by the app’s functionality and extensive content.
“It’s great,” she said. “I can’t think of anything else a student could need to stay in the loop about things happening on campus.”
Kim Diamon, associate director of Alumni Services, said the app is a great way to keep alumni plugged in to all the concerts, shows and events happening at their alma mater.
“This gives us yet another way to let the community know about all the great things happening on or around campus,” Diamon said. “And with all of our alumni who own mobile phones and tablet computers, it just makes sense that we’d communicate with them through the same channels they use on a daily basis.”
It’s free to download from both the Android and Apple app stores, works on the iPhone, iPad and Android phones and comes loaded with a wealth of UNF-related information.
Dmitriy Bond, assistant director of Enterprise Systems at UNF and a UNF alum himself, said the app development process took months, most of which was spent translating the different technology requirements of the University and Blackboard. He said once all of the University’s systems were deemed compatible with Blackboard Mobile and vice versa, the app came together in short order.
“It’s intuitive, it’s fast-loading and it is easy for anyone with a basic familiarity with mobile computing to grasp,” he said.
The template for the app was developed by Blackboard, and UNF ITS integrated it into the University’s servers so it could effectively display only the most updated information, Bond said.
It’s also not just a one-size-fits-all app. It works off of what’s called a springboard, which allows users to organize the modules in the way that works best for them, further personalizing their UNF experience.
With the map function, users are able to see exactly where they are on campus, find where they want to be and figure out the best route to take. Photos of the buildings are also available to help locate landmarks.
The app allows users to search the public directory for faculty, staff and administrators and send an e-mail or place a call, right from the app. The user can also save contact information from the directory directly into the phone’s address book. The directory is linked to the Maps function to locate a person or office quickly.
The app allows users to browse concerts, lectures, exhibits and search for specific events, bookmark them for easy reference and even see where they’re happening. The phone’s GPS will map out what’s happening near a current location, and add events to the device’s calendar. It also allows the user to call or e-mail the event organizer directly from the app.
The app also allows users to monitor multiple feeds of the latest headlines and stories pertaining to UNF, no matter where they are. The UNF-related articles can be read right from the app.
The new University app isn’t the only way UNF is embracing the mobile world. Bond said his team in ITS converted all University web pages into a mobile-friendly format so users who browse on mobile devices will have the best viewing experience possible. It’s a work in progress and updates and improvements will be made continuously as all the bugs are worked out.