Feb 292012
Authors: Jordan Kurtz

We live in a technology-saturated society flooded with the never-ending use of computers, tablets and mobile devices. And while there are smart phone applications out there for just about everything, some CSU students may be asking why a university app doesn’t exist.

Well, the answer is: it’s coming.

“We are planning a soft release around the end of March,” Dean of Libraries Patrick Burns said of the CSU mobile app that will be available for smartphones across the board, including iPhones, Androids and BlackBerrys.

The app will have a variety of uses, including access to RamCT and RamWeb as well as the university directory, news, building locator, course catalog, news, events and social media such as YouTube and Facebook.

So why the wait after taking it into consideration that our smaller sister school, CSU-Pueblo, has had a mobile app for more than two years?

“We’ve been looking at this for a couple of years, and a couple of years ago, there weren’t all that many students that had web capable browsing phones,” Burns said. “The modus operandi back then was still primarily text messaging.”

Burns added that research indicated very limited use in CSU-Pueblo’s first year of implementing the app.

But CSU-Pueblo’s web communications manager, Jeff Miller, said that their app is now a growing success.

“We know we are somewhere in the 2,000 downloads range,” Miller said. “Our current population is somewhere around 6,000, so that’s how we know we obviously need to step it up a little bit.”

Competition within the market has also been a factor. Mobile service providers like Blackboard Inc. had such a high asking price – originally $50,000 – that CSU decided to hold out and wait for a more feasible option.

CSU-Pueblo’s service provider was initially Blackboard Inc., but due to an increased asking price Miller deemed as “astronomical,” they have since chosen other options.

“The competition wasn’t there to get good prices and good service from some of the providers,” Burns said. “What’s happened is three things since then. Number one is the students have gotten smartphones now, so they browse the web and download apps. The second thing is that there is some competition now, so the prices are much lower. I think the third thing is the services have developed over that time and are much better.”

The popularity of apps and market competition have been extreme variables in this equation. Miller compared the generation of apps to the infancy of web sites.

“Initially web sites cost a lot of money, and they were real difficult to make,” Miller said. “Now, we can build web sites in a day or two. Apps are kind of the same way. Now that apps are becoming more popular, companies are charging a lot less to create them.”

The app will be free for users, according to Burns , who said that it has been paid for. The service costs $15,000 a year and the implementation fee is $5,000 bringing the grand total to $20,000 per year. That funding is split between CSU and the University Technology fee.

As far as release dates go, everything is still tentative. There is the aforementioned soft release planned for the end of March, and different phases will be implemented throughout the following months.

“Our objective is to launch it, and then meet with students to prioritize next steps,” Burns said. “That will determine a timeline as the project, priorities and scope of effort are determined.”

As for students, many say they would use a CSU smartphone app.

“If it was useful, yes,” said senior hospitality management major Sam Sapen.

Sapen added that some of the features she viewed as essential for the app are RamCT, email, weather and other current university information.

Chris Herron, a senior music major agreed, saying that he thinks the app would be beneficial to students.

Both universities have made conscious efforts to make sure the content of the app includes what students want. Miller said that CSU-Pueblo offers courses in app creation, and under his supervision, students can create apps that are available in the university’s super app.

For example, with the use of GPS locators, students are creating an app that will display information about the art and artifacts found on campus, and the app will basically serve as a tour guide.

Burns said, for the CSU app, most students want to be able to access features such as RamCT, which will be outsourced in May, and RamWeb. The RamWeb application comes at an additional cost for the university and it is projected to be released after the initial phase.

A mock template of the CSU app can be found at colostate.boopsie.com/m.

Collegian writer Jordan Kurtz can be reached at news@collegian.com.

CSU Smartphone App Contents
-University Directory
-Building Locator
-Course Catalog
-Social Media

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