WSU becoming mobile with new tech program

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Freshman Jake Perry shows off his iPhone 3GS, one of the many phones which will be able to download WSU apps.

As more students use Androids, iPhones and tablets, Weber State University is becoming more mobile with apps for its students’ learning success.

The Web Services Division has been a big part of making this mobile effort happen.

“This idea of going mobile has been coming for a while; it’s like a storm coming,” said Bret Ellis, vice president for Information Technology. Ellis is leading a University Mobile Initiative, getting all of the different departments together that are creating apps and getting ideas off of one another.

One thing that sparked off creating apps was when Ellis had an honors class, in which he provided all 15 students with tablets.

“The whole idea was to show what mobile means in the classroom,” Ellis said.

They used the tablets for the most part and drew a comparison to traditional methods of doing research and writing papers.

Ellis said, if this is successful, then when students bring their technology to campus, they won’t have to worry about outages, frustrations of software not working, and other problems with technology.

“The key now is ‘mobile first,’” Ellis said.

He also said that computers are eventually going away, and the iPad and Tablet technology will be the dominant interface.

Five interns were hired this year and are working to put apps onto an app store. The apps will be provided toward Apple and Android phones as WSU-branded apps. An app can be created for certain subjects that are hard to explain in class and will be a way for students to understand it better.

Another idea that is still in the air is a way of creating secure storage and public access storage. This is similar to GoogleDocs and the Apple iCloud. These are public areas, and Ellis said he wants to make sure his employees don’t have their information known out in a public cloud.

The web development team is also making an effort to meet the mobile needs of students. They recently set up a website, http://m.weber.edu, which includes many different apps.

“Our plan is to wrap the website into an app for the app store,” said Peter Waite, Web Services manager.

Along with the Web Services division, the student mobile club, directed by Allen Livingston, is making a big impact on the mobile effort, according to Waite.

“We learn from them, they learn from us,” Waite said.

The club is creating many apps for the groups on the WSU website. Some of the apps are for WSUSA, the College of Applied Science and Technology, the Multicultural Student Center, the Community Involvement Center, WSU Davis, and the MBA program.

“Part of the reason we’ve gone with Web-based applications (is) because they get the broadest reach,” Waite said. “It doesn’t matter the device; as long as students have Internet, they can use them.”

Currently, the program has limited funding, though some is gained through the interns and the Information Technology Division.

“Our strategic goal is to receive funding in the future, but at the moment we don’t have any,” Ellis said.

Waite said the apps should be available for download and purchase shortly.

“We look for it to be picked up even more once it hits the app stores,” Waite said. “This is just the tip of the iceberg.”

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Posted by on November 29, 2011. Filed under News, Technology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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