The information students can access at Algonquin will move as fast as they do starting this year. The college has launched a mobile website which will provide services to students on the go.
Using a free resource developed by MIT, the site allows any student with a mobile device to access everything from timetables and email, to How-To videos and contact information.
Since the website’s launch last month, it has been visited by about 9,000 mobile users. Of these mobile visitors, 64 per cent of them have been iPhone users.
And although the iPhone may hold a large market share among mobile users, college administrators are confident in their choice to design a mobile site for all devices, as opposed to an application for one. “[Students] make a consumer decision and our job is not to try and guide a consumer decision, but try to support the decision already made,” said Stephen Abraham, chief information officer for information technology services at Algonquin.
“We want to empower everybody in whatever way we can.”
The feedback received about the site has been positive.
“We have heard from students that they like the design, that they find that it’s useful, that being able to look at timetables and be able to find their location has been very helpful,” Abraham said.
The next step is to replace fixed computer labs with mobile labs, the first of which will be opening next month.
The move towards a mobile campus is intended to change the concept of how the college delivers a student’s education, the president said.
“The conversation is now, ‘well why can’t you offer online [classes], in class, or a combination of both?’
Whatever way the student wants to have their education delivered to them,” Gillett said.
He believes technology has enabled the college the ability to do this, so there is reason to take the next step. Gillett did caution that this transition would take some time, and that it would rely on the technology continuing to be a resource that would be easy to use. However, he is confident that the technology will progress.
Gillett said it comes down to being able to deliver services to students.
“They expect us to be able to offer the technological services, tools, hardware, and software; whatever it’s going to be to match how they live their lives today.”
There will be further plans for the mobile website in order to provide more services to students. There are plans to incorporate Blackboard on the site, as well as the ability for students to find their way through each campus building using wifi technology.
To complement Algonquin’s mobile service, a mobile support lab is under construction in C102 and is scheduled to be completed in November. “The lab is not going to have fixed computers,” director of learning and teaching services Glenn Macdougall said.
The lab is expected to accommodate 80 to 90 students and will feature “four distinct learning spaces,” said MacDougall.
The lab will still be accessible from the library a floor above.
Not all students are happy with Algonquin’s mobile plan.
“All mobile, I think that’s a bad idea because what if the network goes down?” small and medium enterprise management student Ibrahim Elmi, 26, said. “There should always be a pen and paper alternative because we’re paying tuition.”