Mobile 101 for Higher Education


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Mobile 101 for Higher Education

  1. 1. INIGRAL INSIGHTSMobile 101 for Higher EdRose BroomeBrandon Croke
  2. 2. Mobile 101 for Higher Ed - Inigral InsightsThe Mobile Revolution & Student EngagementOver the last decade, computers and the connecting power of the Internet have transformedcommunication across industries. Now, with the rise of smartphones and mobile technology,the mobile web represents a new Internet frontier that’s revolutionizing the way we connect.For the teens and young adults of the millennial generation who grew up on the Internet andsee it as an integral part of life, mobile trends are especially strong. In response to thesetrends the tech industry has sharply shifted focus toward mobile development but highereducation has been slow to respond.While the transition to mobile is not straightforward for most institutions, a mobile presenceis essential to reach a new generation of students, prospects, staff, and alumni. This InigralInsights white paper will give an overview of the evolving mobile landscape and show newmobile opportunities for building community and boosting student engagement and retentionon campus.Today’s Youth are Digital NativesBorn with cell phones and a plethora of tech gadgets within reach, today’s youth aredescribed as digital natives—dependent upon technology for entertainment, news,information, friendship, education, and just about everything else. The adage “there’s anapp for that” rings true especially for youth who are most comfortable turning to technologyto solve life’s challenges.As a report by the Pew Internet &American Life Project concludes: “The internet is a central“The internet is a central and and indispensable element inindispensable element in the livesof American teens and young the lives of American teens andadults” (Pew, 2010). It’s no surprise young adults.” - Pew, 2010that 93 percent—an overwhelmingmajority—of American teens andyoung adults aged 12-29 go online.Mobile Trends are BoomingFor American youth, mobile phones and mobile communication channels are especiallyimportant. By 2010, 75 percent of teens and 93 percent of young adults had cell phones(Pew, 2010)— and their use is growing at an exponential rate. Here’s just one example ofthe boom: in 2004 18 percent of 12-year olds owned cellphones and by 2010 this figure hadgrown 40 percent, with 58 percent of 12-year olds owning their own cell phone. 1
  3. 3. Mobile 101 for Higher Ed - Inigral InsightsThis ubiquity of mobile access is changing the way youth communicate. For example, textmessaging has become the default way to get in touch, and has passed email, instantmessaging, and in-person contact as the primary way talk with friends for teens 12 to 18years old (Pew, 2009). This mobile messaging trend grew massively in just one year: in2008 38 percent of teens texted friends daily, by 2009 54 percent of teens texted friendsdaily—and half of them sent 50 or more text messages a day (that’s 1,500 texts a month).By 2011, the number of text messages more than doubled, with 13 to 17-year olds sendingan average of 3,364 text messages per month (Nielsen, 2011a). Clearly the importance ofmobile communication for youth and the next generation of students is massive and cannotbe overstated.Smartphones: A Super Computer in Your PocketSmartphones combine mobile with Internet technology—the power of a supercomputer thatfits in a purse or pocket—and are quickly becoming must-haves for American consumers.With smartphones the Internet can be accessed anywhere at any time. Smartphones arenow purchased more than regular feature phones and over 38 percent of US consumersown one of these devices (Nielsen, 2011b). Like other mobile trends, the smartphoneadoption is growing rapidly. In 2010 34 percent of cell phone buyers reported choosing asmartphone—by 2011 this number grew 21 percent, with 55 percent choosing smartphones.In the near future smartphones and access to the mobile web will be standard.Mobile Web – Any Time, Any PlaceWhat is the mobile web? Put simply, the mobile web is the Internet accessed through amobile device, like a smartphone, tablet, or other Internet capable gadget. It includes anecosystem of mobile sites and mobile functionalities with unique opportunities to connectpeople and the environment. Most importantly, the mobile web frees the internet from ourdesks and computers and puts it in our hands at any time from any place. Because of thisconvenience a smartphone user may check their phone dozens to hundreds of times a day.Mobile ApplicationsMobile apps are programs designed specifically for smartphones. Common apps includeemail, calendars, maps, and social media sites like Facebook.Indeed, social networking sites are one ofthe fastest growing mobile app categories Facebook is the mostalong with games, music, and geo-locationservices (Neilson, 2011c). Overall, popular mobile application—Facebook is the most popular mobile 350 million of their currentapplication—350 million of their current 800million users access the site through the 800 million users access themobile web. The creative applications of the site through the mobile web continue to grow. 2
  4. 4. Mobile 101 for Higher Ed - Inigral InsightsResponding to Mobile TrendsIn response to these strong and growing consumer mobile trends, the tech industry hasshifted their central focus to creating products for mobile. Google’s development strategynow targets “mobile first” according to CEO Eric Schmidt (Educause Learning Innitiative,2010). And it’s the same story at social media giant Facebook, where in the words of theirMobile Chief Erick Tseng, “we now have over 350 million mobile users. Within another yearor two, we’ll be a mobile company” (Techcrunch, 2011). Clearly the mobile web is not afad—it marks a paradigm shift in the way people interact with the internet and with eachother.Higher Ed and MobileDespite higher education’s proximity to the millennial generation, some are consideringthem behind the commercial sector in transitioning to the mobile revolution. In a 2009 studyby The EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research (ECAR) only half of respondents saidtheir institution had adapted web services for mobile devices, and one third had only doneso to a very small extent. As David R. Morton, director of mobile communications at theUniversity of Washington, puts it, “for so many institutions, mobile is a part-time job, almostan afterthought.” (Chronicle, 2011) Considering the importance of mobile communicationsfor youth this slow adoption rate by institutions of higher education is surprising.From our Fall 2011 Mobile Forecast Survey we found that 60% of administrators believemobile is already fundamental to how students experience college. When will mobile be fundamental to how students experience college? 80% 60% 60% 40% 20% 15% 17% 3% 5% 0% Already is Within the next At least 1-2 3 or more Not sure 12 months years out yearsReprinted from Inigral Inc., & Stamats Inc. (2011). 2012 Mobile Forecast for Higher Ed. Retrieved from: 3
  5. 5. Mobile 101 for Higher Ed - Inigral InsightsStudents Want Mobile Access“Students are using Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, all these Web 2.0 systems every day andthe sixth website is the school web site, because you have to use it. And that’s where thebiggest disconnect is,” according to Blackboard Mobile General Manager and StanfordUniversity alum Kayvon Beykpour (Chronicle, 2011). Having a website isn’t enough,students expect well-designed web services from their universities, including mobile access.While many universities are yet to optimize their first webpage for mobile, student demandis already strong. For example, in one survey of 1,300 Iowa State University students 78percent said they wanted mobile access to course management systems (USA TODAY,2011). Those institutions that reach out to their students and community online, and who areable to engage them with the technology they are most comfortable with, are the institutionswho will draw in the tech generation.While innovation is rapidly progressing in industry, strategy changes required for embracingthe mobile web in higher education are often met with much policy, procedure, and paperwork.Other hurdles include cost, concerns over equal access for students of all backgrounds,and the technical skills required for developing within the mobile web.Integrating mobile technology is also difficult because there’s not one clear path forward.Some institutions go with a mobile solution provider, others draw from open sources projects,and some create their own applications in-house. Occasionally college mobile apps aredeveloped by the students themselves and only later adopted by the IT department (whichwas the case at Stanford University with their iStanford application).The Mobile Bridge – Not a DivideThe so-called mobile divide is also a concern for the higher education community and isfueled by the desire for equal access to campus resources and technology for all students.But the divide may not be as it seems. Because smartphones are less expensive thancomputers, some students may have more consistent access to the internet via a mobiledevice than from a laptop or desktop computer—according to the International DataCorporation (2011), by 2015 more Americans will access the Internet on a mobile devicethan through a conventional PC.Under represented groups may also benefit from the mobile web; Pew Internet researchfound that African Americans were the most active users of the mobile web, and their use ofthe mobile web is growing at a faster pace than mobile web use among white adults (Pew,2010). The mobile web is making the internet more accessible and is perhaps betterdescribed as a mobile bridge. 4
  6. 6. Mobile 101 for Higher Ed - Inigral InsightsSocial Media in Higher EdWhile the mobile transition is still forthcoming, the higher education community has alreadyrecognized the enormous potential of connecting with their students through various socialmedia channels for admissions, community building, and leading edge retention efforts.For example, Social media use by college officials has risen dramatically in the last 4 years,and by 2011 100% of colleges in a recent survey reported using some form of social media(Barnes & Lescault, 2011). The most frequently used social media tools include Facebook(98%), Twitter (84%), and blogging sites (66%). Facebook is by far the most widely usedsocial network by students and colleges. In a recent survey, 95% of colleges reported highsatisfaction with the popular network (Barnes & Lescault, 2011).Summary of social media and student engagement findings from Heiberger and Harper (2008) and Higher EducationResearch Institute (HERI, 2007). Reprinted from Junco, R. (2010, April 19). Social media and college student engagement.Retrieved from Reprinted with permission. 5
  7. 7. Mobile 101 for Higher Ed - Inigral InsightsMobile + Social Networking = Student EngagementIn light of the current focus on student engagement in higher education, the mobile webcombined with social media represent a significant opportunity to foster student connectionwith the campus community. Institutions on the leading edge are using mobile and socialnetworking tools to recruit, gain insight into their students, keep in touch with alumni, andboost student retention rates. As an ECAR study suggests, “Those who are even slightlyahead in providing services to handheld devices are enhancing their ability to attract andengage a generation of tech-savvy prospective students, faculty, and staff” (ECARResearch Study 2, 2009). When will your institution do the following in mobile?100% Already did it 84% 80% 12 months out 60% 49% 1-2 years out 40% 31% 30% 28% 27% 28% 27% 24% 20% 3 or more years 20% 17% 16% 14% 7% 6% 6% 3% 1% 2% 3% 0% SMS Other SMS Optimize Informational Engagement emergency communication website app app notifications for mobileReprinted from Inigral Inc., & Stamats Inc. (2011). 2012 Mobile Forecast for Higher Ed. Retrieved from: power of social networking to connect students combined with the convenience andportability of the mobile web has strong implications for institutions of higher learning whowant to stay relevant to the new tech savvy generation. Though transitioning to the mobileweb is not straightforward, institutions who make the leap will be able to harness its powerto create socially engaged and successful students.“Those who are even slightly ahead in providing services to handheld devices are enhancing their ability to attract and engage a generation of tech-savvy prospective students, faculty, and staff.” - ECAR Research Study 2, 2009Going mobile may sound a bit overwelming, so we’ve created aMobile 101 cheat sheet to get you started on the basics and keepyour team on track. 6
  8. 8. Mobile 101 for Higher Ed - Inigral InsightsMobile 101 Cheat Sheet• Don’t wait for perfection: get the basics optimized for mobile ASAP. Focus on optimizing web pages with the highest traffic first. For example: - Academic programs - Course information - Campus map - Events calendar - Transportation routes and schedules• Keep in mind that web pages optimized for mobile are regular web sites that can be accessed from any mobile device. Mobile apps are software programs that must be developed specifically for each smartphone operating system, and are generally downloaded from an app store.• Identify mobile as a key area of your IT strategic plan and highlight the importance of being accessible through mobile devices for key decision-makers.• Keep mobile sites simple and easy to navigate on small mobile screens—minimize the need for scrolling and user input. Do not use flash or large images which take forever to load.• General categories for higher education mobile development include: - Emergency notifications - Information services - Engagement and community building - Mobile learning - Management resources• Mobile isn’t just for current students. Consider adding the following groups into your mobile plan: - Prospective students - Admits - Alumni - Faculty and staff - Broader campus community• For more advanced possibilities, consider developing native mobile apps for your campus that include ID card, payment, and grade report functionality.• Consider providing mobile educational services, like library support and education videos easily accessible on mobile phones.• Create an orientation scavenger-hunt to help students explore physical and virtual campus resources.Read more about best practices in higher ed mobile and social media at 7
  9. 9. Mobile 101 for Higher Ed - Inigral InsightsREFERENCESBarnes, N.G., & Lescault, A.L. (2011). Social media adoption soars as higher-ed experiments and reevaluates its use of new communication tools. Center for Marketing Research. University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, North Dartmouth, MA.Chronicle. (2011). As the web goes mobile, colleges fail to keep up. Retrieved from: Center for Applied Research [ECAR]. (2009). Spreading the word: messaging and communications in higher education. Retrieved from: Learning Initiative. (2010). Mobile learning: context and prospects. Retrieved from:, G., & Harper, R. (2008). Have you Facebooked Astin lately? Using technology to increase student involvement. In Using Emerging Technologies to Enhance Student Engagement. New Directions for Student Services Issue #124 (eds R. Junco & D.M. Timm), 19-35. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA.Higher Education Research Institute [HERI]. (2007). College freshmen and online social networking sites. University of California, Los Angeles, CA. Inc., & Stamats Inc. (2011). 2012 Mobile Forecast for Higher Ed. Retrieved from: Data Corporation. (2011). IDC: More mobile internet users than wireline users in the U.S. by 2015. Retrieved from:, R. (2010, April 19). Social media and college student engagement. Retrieved from 8
  10. 10. Mobile 101 for Higher Ed - Inigral InsightsNielsen. (2011b). In US, smartphones now majority of new cellphone purchases. Retrieved from: smartphones-now-majority-of-new-cellphone-purchases/Nielsen. (2011c). The state of mobile apps. Retrieved from: (2011a). Kids today: How the class of 2011 Engages with media. Retrieved from: the-class-of-2011-engages-with-media/Noel-Levitz. (2011a). E-expectations report: The online expectations of prospective college students and their parents. Retrieved from higher-education/2011/2011-e-expectations-reportPew Internet & American Life Project [Pew]. (2010). Social media and young adults. Retrieved from Internet & American Life Project [Pew]. (2009). Teens and mobile phones. Retrieved from (2011). Facebook’s mobile chief: within 1-2 years, we’re going to be a mobile company. Retrieved from: within-1-2-years-were-going-to-be-a-mobile-company/USATODAY. (2011). Apps make college easier to access. Retrieved from: apps-college-students_n.htm?csp=34news 9