When Scott Davis, Technology Services Director of Applications Services, and his team set out to create a mobile campus application (“app”) for Virginia Commonwealth University (“VCU”), they didn’t just envision creating another app but rather, an extension of the school. To ensure this, Davis and his team partnered with Blackboard to develop a platform that combined VCU’s vision to bring technology to the campus and Blackboard’s expertise in building mobile applications that transform learning.

In the competitive environment to attract talented students in higher education, universities are looking to have an edge. They struggle to meet the needs and expectations of millennial and non-traditional students. Students are using their mobile devices for email, text messaging, and social networking.

Furthermore, today’s student is entering college already familiar with a course management system from their K12 environment. Through VCU Mobile, VCU is able to keep students engaged so they are more invested in the classroom, more likely to capitalize on resources provided by the institution, and ultimately perform better academically.

“Mobile brings down the classroom barrier and makes for a more engaging experience” says Davis.

In 2010, Davis and his team implemented the app with Blackboard Mobile. Since then, the enthusiasm for their mobile campus quickly spread throughout all University departments and schools.

Davis was concerned about determining the layout of the interface. “We spent a lot of our time trying to deliver what I would call campus services, anything that we can do to help the student.  But at the same time, we also needed to focus on the instructional side and making sure that the students have access to what they need and when they need it – specifically Mobile Learn.”

The app brilliantly features both campus services and instructional services. As a student, instructor, or university support, VCU Mobile truly revolutionizes one’s academic experience. It automatically populates courses for each semester including the class location, which has helped many first-year students find the correct classroom. The app also provides instructor feedback, athletic team scores, location of open library computers, and daily dining menus and more all in the palm of your hand! Even as an alumnus, you can instantaneously donate to the school.

VCU Mobile has been downloaded and accessed by members of their community who live all over the world, with 25% of downloads occurring outside of Virginia.  Overall, almost 2,400 individuals have downloaded the latest version. During the week of October 17th, over 3,400 unique visitors logged onto VCU Blackboard Mobile Learn.

VCU mobile is clearly transforming the learning experience!

Blackboard thought this as well when it awarded a 2012 Catalyst Award for Mobile Innovation to Davis and his team. VCU’s Blackboard representative, Jim Brown, encouraged the team to apply when he saw the campus app coming to life!

As a result of the win, Davis has become well known in the Commonwealth of Virginia and hopes to stay on the forefront of innovation for VCU mobile. VCU also received Finalist recognition for the 2012 Virginia Governor’s Technology Awards category in “IT as Efficiency Driver – Government to Citizen.”

What’s to come? VCU mobile will evolve into creating more dynamic apps that also help foster engagement. Davis hinted at the ability for more transactions such as course sign-up, book purchasing and online classroom via Blackboard Collaborate. Whatever else comes down the pipe, we know it will be executed flawlessly with the partnership between VCU Technology Services and Blackboard.

If you are interested in learning more about partnering with Blackboard to create a mobile campus, please find information here.

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