Time magazine recently proclaimed smartphones "the new backpacks.” Indeed, with note-taking apps, recording apps, and research apps, today’s college student likely feels as naked as a campus streaker without his or her smartphone. Nearly gone are the days of massive physical textbooks and backpacks bulging with papers.
While some voices of academia continue to bemoan the ever-presence of technology in the classroom, universities have begun to embrace the medium of smartphone apps. They can range from simple homework and grading platforms (think “Blackboard” to go), to university-wide social media sites. In some cases, the social media apps are too popular among co-eds: Florida A&M’s app “Yeti – Campus Stories,” has recently come under fire for a lack of regulation of explicit sexual content, including an assault.
Of course, plenty of campus apps find a balance between the cachet of a social component and the functionality of a class component. Many universities have successfully cultivated a smartphone presence, offering the benefits of a campus community with pocket-size portability. Here are a few worth noting:
University of Virginia: UVA’s “The Good Old App” employs “augmented reality technologies,” in order to create a comprehensive experience for users. Users on campus can tap into restaurant listings, directions, and even security escorts back to the dorm. Arguably the coolest feature is that you can snap a photo of a building or landmark on campus and receive information about it.
Ohio State University: The Buckeyes were early on the trend, and their mobile app has, for years, offered all sporting event information, course communication, campus announcements, and a photo sharing feature that has become popular for alumni across the globe.
MIT: As you might imagine, for a school that offers courses in app creation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology has an expansive app that provides the usual services (courses, restaurants, announcements), but also offers a self-guided campus tour, top news, and access to campus librarians and maintenance help.
Harvard University: Harvard actually has a slew of mobile apps, from the standard campus app, to Harvard Virtual Tour, to the Arboretum Explorer (featuring plant identification tools), to Shoestring Strategies, a budgeting app created by Harvard undergraduates. Ever the overachievers!
…And there are many more. It’s worth a quick search to find if your current academic home or alma mater offers an app of its own.