University rolling out new mobile app

(Photo courtesy of Pixels)

MARQUETTE — On Monday, smartphone users will have the opportunity to download a new app that will make it easier to connect to the Northern Michigan University community.

The new NMU mobile app with expanded functional options will be available for download beginning Monday from the App Store for iOS devices and Google Play for Android devices, a university press release states.

Users can filter relevant content by selecting one of three personas: student, alumni or community member.

The first university app, which was developed in-house, provided basic functionality and enabled students to check their class schedules and grades from a mobile device. Version 1.0 of the new app provides enhanced functions and new services such as calendars and events, NMU directory, course schedule, grades, an interface to Educat, course search, finals schedule, information related to dining, police and library services, and direct ties to athletics information and the university’s Instagram feed.

Felicia Flack, assistant vice president for Information Services, said the focus was on students when developing the app, so employees in NMU’s information technology department worked with student leaders to create a survey to determine which services students wanted the app to feature.

“One of the most-requested features — the finals schedule — is incorporated in Release 1.0 this fall,” Flack said in the release. “Other services, such as course cancellation notifications, will require more time and effort because they are projects in themselves. The other top features students wanted were a virtual NMU identification card, holds and classroom availability.”

In researching mobile app platforms, NMU explored external software program providers that other universities are using and selected Modo Labs. The Massachusetts-based company’s website states that it offers an “enterprise-scale mobile engagement and communication platform” that enables customers to quickly and easily create institutional or corporate apps.

“Unlike some vendors, Modo Labs allows us to incorporate university branding, which gives the app a unique look,” Flack said. “The personas enable us to provide different services for different audiences, customizing the experience. NMU purchased the platform at the beginning of June and immediately began getting the basic functions ready for a rollout this fall. IT worked closely with marketing and communications on the branding and the marketing plan.”

A mobile app road map was created that provides for the rollout of additional services and functionality, including push notifications, in upcoming semesters.