Early users report mixed reviews of PNW’s mobile app

After two months of public testing, PNW’s new mobile app is garnering mixed reception from the student community.

The app, which was soft-launched on Dec. 20, or released for the purpose of acquiring feedback for future improvements and developments, seeks to provide access to campus information, goings-on and to various online campus utilities.

Using convenience as its main selling point, the app is competing with other alternative apps on the market, which several students, faculty and staff have reported being accustomed to on their mobile devices.

Peter Dalessandro, computer technician in the customer service center office, said that the app has limited use for him as he has already customized a variety of apps to provide similar services. He, however, believes that the app could be useful for incoming students.

“The PNW mobile app has a lot of good information for food, maps and spots to hang-out,” Dalessandro said. “The app is good for people who want to be actively involved in campus life.”

Ryan Stephens, junior broadcasting major, said that he likes what the app has to offer, such as the directory, explaining that it makes it easy to contact faculty. He added that he likes the ability to access information from the PNW website such as financial aid, student account and registration information.

“The app is a nice catchall app. I like that I have it on my phone, but I have apps that get me the information faster, so I don’t use it much,” Stephens said. “However, it’s good for keeping up with what’s going on at the university and keeping track of special interests.”

PNW mobile app development used “Campus M” platform by the vendor Ex Libris, the same used for the PNW library. The platform gives the base framework to develop and deploy the mobile app which consists of link-outs to existing websites via a tiled feature.

Tim Winders, vice chancellor of Information Services, explained there was no hard push for the app because it’s still in the development and improvement stage.

“The expectation is everything should be in the palm of the hand. The university needed an app. We wanted to create one place to get all information,” Winders said. “We didn’t want to push out the app and disappoint. I would like to see a constant flow between feedback and improvements which will lead to more rapid releases of updated versions. We want to keep getting improvements out there.”

Regarding the end goal of the app, Winders explained he would like to see increased student engagement, retention and PNW involvement.

Carol Coupet, executive director of enterprise application services and lead project manager, said that students can expect a significant update to the app in several weeks, which will include banner integration, allowing students to see their grades, courses and registration information.

“Currently, the app is organized by tiles. As the app matures, it will become more dynamic, not just linkouts,” Coupet said. “We will take advantage of the program functionality. We plan on making more native integration with, for example, Blackboard.”

Speaking on security issues and students’ concerns with the Boilerkey, Coupet explained that students may enter their Boilerkey once and will not have to reenter the code for at least 24 hours.