The Augustana Student Association (ASA) hopes to release its new mobile application by Christmas time this year.
Mobile application partner for Microsoft and senior Robert Mikhayelyan agreed to create ASA’s new mobile app last spring at ASA president Matt Anderson’s request.
“I think it’s good for an educational institution to embrace changes,” Mikhayelyan said. “ASA wants to bring Augie up to steam. I will gladly do my part in that… I enjoy app building as well.” He has been working on the app since last spring and said that “the Android portion of it is next to done. The iOS portion of it is nearing completion.”
“The biggest thing is that students want to know more about Augustana,” Mikhayelan said. “Let’s face it, everyone’s lazy … if there’s a roadblock on the website, students won’t use it. It will streamline the Augie website experience.
Mikhayelyan, a part-time student at Augustana, has been working with Microsoft since his first year of college. Last summer he interned with Microsoft in Seattle, and he currently works with a local Microsoft group.
Mikhayelyan works as a developer evangelist, which requires him to talk with developers and then run seminars that provide research for people to learn how to create programs. He aspires to be a full-time programmer.
Mikhayelyan notes that people have a misconception about how programming is done and how difficult it is.
“People think about people sitting in their basement with a giant computer,” he said. “Now programming is a lot easier. Almost anyone can pick up computer programming if they have the dedication. It’s not as scary as it seems. To make a popular application is not that hard anymore.”
The mobile app will include the weather, student calendar, Dining Services menu, Moodle page, my.augie, student announcements, emergency numbers, the library’s website, the Mirror web page and an interactive campus map.
“This app will be extremely powerful,” Anderson said. “It will be a really accessible way to get information.”
ASA is hoping to have a testable version done by Thanksgiving and the whole product done by Christmas.
“We are not creating new information, just making it easier for students to access it,” Anderson said. “It will take only one click to access the same information from the Augie.edu website. If the website’s been changed, then the app will change as well. The goal is to make it as integrated to our campus as possible.”
Director of online communications, Peggy Kapusta agreed that the goal of the app is to give students easy access to information.
“If everyone can find what they’re looking for easier and faster, they are more likely to stay connected to the college. And that’s the ultimate goal,” Kapusta said.
In addition to the creation of a new mobile app, Augustana’s website continues to evolve into a more user friendly site.
“By next summer, the college’s public website will be migrated to a responsive design that’s able to be viewed on all screen sizes (including mobile),” Kapusta said. “Currently you can view the website on any device, but you have to zoom in with the device. The responsive design would not require you to zoom.”
“We’re working to adapt our websites to meet the changing needs, research habits and expectations of our users, especially students,” Kapusta said.
Presently, students and faculty must wait for the release of ASA’s mobile app, which is supported by many leaders on campus.
“We’ve already been contacted by large groups on campus that they would like to be on our app,” Anderson said.
According to Anderson, those already interested in the app include Corey Kopp, Jim Bies and Rob Oliver.
The new app will connect Augustana’s community through an innovative design. Students will have to judge for themselves the usefulness of this new app when it is released.