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Next-gen apps merge campus ID and student life

A glimpse at the future student mobile app

Heartland’s Emery echoes this sentiment. “We expect that we will see an increase in NFC use on campus, and I think for a while we will see the mobile credential being used as an enhancement to the plastic credential,” adds Emery.

As Emery sees it, the mobile app would also be ideal as a stand in to traditional event ticketing. “I can see, for example, where instead of printing paper event tickets with assigned seats, a virtual ticket along with other pertinent campus information could be pushed to you within the app,” says Emery. “This could also remind a student of a meeting with a counselor or a check out of campus housing.”

Emery also points out that the campus mobile app could prove just as valuable to university administrators as it will be to students. Since students can self manage through the app, reliance on card office staff will be reduced. “Additionally because transactions occur virtually over the network there is less wear and tear on physical card readers meaning less maintenance,” explains Emery.

Forming habits

Provided the proper terminals are in place to accept mobile transactions, much of the necessary infrastructure is already in place for the campus mobile app. And being that that the mobile app functions on regular mobile broadband or Wi-Fi, it will be simple enough to leverage a existing wireless networks.

Marketing and education, then, will play a pivotal role in adoption. Fortunately, if any population is going to use a mobile app en masse, it will be college students. “Students are the ideal demographic for using this type of technology,” says Gretz. “And as universities are looking for ways to provide enhanced services to their students, use of the smartphone is a natural addition.”

Simplicity will be vital to adoption. “Creating a frictionless experience for the student is paramount,” Gretz says. “If the mobile app isn’t at least as easy and convenient as the card, students won’t use it.”

CBORD’s Ledwith suggests that it’s a matter of getting students in the habit of using the app. “The same rule applies to the apps that we see consistently in one-card programs: the more the card or app can be used anywhere, the more it will be used everywhere,” she says. “The more student services that can go into an app, the more successful it will be.”

Social media can play an important role in adoption and use of an app, says Emery. “Consider running promotions where you get a discount if you use the app or are entered into a drawing if you download the app and go through the initial account configuration,” he explains.

Conceptually, a university can add anything they want to the app, taking the standard campus card from a plastic device to more of a student experience. “It’s no longer just a transaction tool, but an expansion of services as the credential becomes mobile and key functions are at students’ fingertips in one application,” Emery adds.

A true companion

The term “companion app” could take on a different meaning when it comes to the university. The app could be introduced the moment an acceptance letter or email is sent to a student, configured and activated alongside the student’s first interactions on campus and carried along with them during their daily activities through to graduation.

While the traditional companion on campus has long been the ID card, the mobile app is likely to be the modern student’s best friend. From acceptance to commencement, universities have at their disposal the ability to provide students with information that will not only facilitate the college experience, but enhance it as well.

The campus mobile app has, in many ways, already arrived enabling transactions and physical access at pioneering campuses nationwide. It seems destined to become the hub for a student’s daily life. As more services are pushed to the Internet and greater technologies emerge, the campus mobile app will only continue to expand in use and utility. 

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