Is mobile the next trend?

Recently I have noticed an “uptick” in the chatter of the  higher ed community about mobile sites and mobile apps for institutions. One year from now I wonder if the dominant conversation in higher ed turns from “social media” to “mobile”? With the speed at which some of our institutions move maybe that will be in two years.

With the current economic climate at most institutions there will be a focus on enrollment and admissions. According to most of the research that I have seen one of the largest “drivers” for a student to apply is the visit to campus. With Apple cutting the entry point for iPhone users to $99 more and more of our visitors will be carrying these devices in the next year. Wouldn’t higher ed be well served to meet the needs of prospective families visiting with mobile sites and apps aimed at these visitors?

There are over 25,00 apps in the Apple app store but my best count only 5 are from higher ed. What will that number be one year from now? 25 …50…100?

8 Responses to Is mobile the next trend?

  1. Steve says:

    I was quoted in The Chronicle of Higher Education over 3 years ago stating that mobile devices would be the next ‘killer’ device within higher education. True to form, higher education as an industry remains farther along the adoption curve than the students served as ‘consumers’. Mobile devices, not just the iPhone will become increasingly important as the primary means to correspond with students and to deliver instruction. The question is not if, but when.

  2. You’re right on track with this, Paul. Mobile apps like the ones being developed by a start up called Terribly Clever (under the label Mobile Edu) are starting to make splash in the K-12 independent school market, and a small number of higher ed campuses.

    I wrote about Princeton’s mobile-optimized web site last month:

    And this week at the CASE Summit, vendors are going to be pushing mobile functionality for alumni web communities. “Watch this space!”

  3. Paul Redfern says:

    I am not able to make it to the CASE summit but did see some emails from vendors. I thought the Princeton mobile site was really well done and a great idea too. Steve is right the question is not “if” but “when”. In our current budget crunch which schools will make this investment a priority.

  4. Rob S. says:

    I’ve seen some impressive institution-specific mobile apps in higher ed. Not many, but some.

    The self-guided tour is interesting. The question is how heavily do you promote that vs. a “formal” (i.e. controlled) tour.

    Web sites that degrade gracefully to be somewhat mobile-friendly? Makes sense.

    Mobile-specific higher ed sites? Not sure of the return on effort for many schools, particularly smaller schools. Mobile browsers are improving, though they still vary significantly from device to device. Browsers like Safari on iPhone function quite well on non-optimized Web sites, and such zoom and pan features make mobile-specific sites less essential.

    Perhaps a home page optimized for mobile surfing is the most useful, with specifically-chosen links (directions, phone numbers, etc.)

  5. OtherWebGuy says:

    Rob S. kind of hit the nail on the head. Although we are all seeing mobile traffic increase slightly, and a lot of emphasis is beginning to be put on the mobile site initiative; you have to balance that with your return on effort.

    Mobile devices are getting more and more sophisticated, to the point where, by the time most higher education institutions begin really putting effort into developing mobile sites, there will be little need for them anymore.

  6. Doug says:

    Hi Paul, I thought you might find this post interesting and relevant to your blog —

  7. As a follow up, I think the mobile optimized sites will go away as mentioned above. However, the standalone apps will have a role to play where several back end databases can be delivered in an integrated way. There is a lot of data for campuses to deliver: directories, calendars, athletics schedules and scores, financial/payment records, grades, course registration, dining hall menus – and on and on.

    And for those who missed it – TerriblyClever was acquired this week by Blackboard for $4 million.

  8. Oh man, how could I forget the hottest topic on all our campuses?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: