MSVU first university in NS to launch student handbook mobile app

Students at MSVU can keep up-to-date with class information, events on campus and local student discounts with the new electronic student handbook.

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The student union at Mount Saint Vincent University has launched a student handbook mobile app, so students have an easier way to access events, university contact lists and other information throughout the school year.

The app is an electronic version of the printed student handbook that can be downloaded from the MSVU students' union mobile website. The app can be downloaded to your smart phone, tablet, or viewed on any standard internet browser.

The student union launched the mobile app back in August, a month before classes began at the university

 

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Screen shot of the MSVU student handbook mobile app.

Serving the student body

MSVU was the first university in Nova Scotia to launch a mobile app version of their student handbook; they beat SMU's launch of a similar app by only a couple weeks. Because of the mobile website platform, the MSVU student union staff can update information on the app instantly.

"It gave us another avenue to be able to communicate with students," Kenney Fitzpatrick, general manager of the student union, said in an interview on Monday. The app, he says, is an important tool for serving the student body. Through the app, students have access to information in real time regarding things such as class cancellations or deadlines for dropping courses.

When Fitzpatrick first came up with the idea of developing the app, the student union conducted an online survey. About 400 students replied to the survey, Fitzpatrick explained, answering whether or not they would use a mobile version of the student handbook.

"I would say 97% of the feedback was yeah, I love it."

Fitzpatrick says there have been about 1,200 unique visits to the mobile address since the official launch on Aug. 3. MSVU has a total student population of only 4,000 including student studying by distance education.

 

Smart phone or not

"We didn't want to alienate anybody," says Fitzpatrick about the decision to have a mobile website platform instead of an Apple App Store or Blackberry App World download. This means that anyone with access to an internet browser can use the app.

Fitzpatrick says they understand some people will prefer to use the traditional printed handbook, but that it was a matter of the student union keeping up with technology in order to better serve the students.

He's hoping to increase the use by MSVU professors, who can update students on class information in real-time through the app.

Who designed it?

A Toronto-based company called Square Crop Studio developed the app, with input from the student union. Fitzpatrick says turnaround on the project was quick; the app was finished and launched within a month.

So far, they have relied on word-of-mouth for promoting the app; there were also posters with a QR code leading to the mobile site during orientation week. The student union created a YouTube video about it a couple weeks before the launch.

Fitzpatrick says they're going to focus their efforts on marketing the app more in the new year, when students return from winter break.

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