Gonzaga students have to jump through hoops to sign into their accounts with multiple login pages. But what if there was an app for that?
Colleen Vandenboom, assistant dean for student involvement and leadership, had GU students in mind when she brought the idea of a single sign-on app for students to use that can give them access to all things GU in one location.
“A mobile platform brings all of the apps students are using to one spot,” said Vandenboom. “The mobile platform is about bringing Gonzaga support services to the students’ palm of their hand.”
Vandenboom said she puts herself in the shoes of new students to imagine what she thinks would help them. A media platform was one idea she came up with.
“So what is exciting for me is that I think about all the time and energy students have to take to know all the resources, and we have spent a lot of money and a lot of programming and planning to bring all these great things for students, but it’s just pretty overwhelming to know what’s available,” Vandenboom said.
GU student Anna Brown, a junior education major, thinks new students would benefit from the app for multiple reasons.
“I think it would definitely be beneficial for future GU students because it would be a tool to help new students learn how to navigate all the GU academic portals,” Brown said. “It could also provide information to help students navigate their way through extracurriculars and campus activities.”
The idea came after Vandenboom did research and found that many universities have apps to help streamline the process for their students to access their accounts, events, employee information and resources on campus.
“Most universities have an app,” Vandenboom said.
She pulled inspiration from the other university apps to create an idea of what the GU app would look like.
“For example, Zagtivities has an app, IMLeagues has an external app, banners, Zagweb, Sodexo has an app and in theory we could have a Gonzaga student who has 30 apps on their phone or going to the GU website, but instead of people spread out everywhere, a mobile platform brings all of those together, so you click your student app and then you would be able to log on with single sign on and it would pull up all your information,” Vandenboom said.
Smartphones have become a necessity of day-to-day life, as college students have access to the internet within a matter of seconds. This was part of the research that Vandenboom needed to help develop the GU app.
“We know, and research is telling us, that students are checking their emails about every six and a half hours and they are checking their push notifications about every 15 minutes," she said. "So what is exciting about a mobile app is the push notification ability and the geolocation.”
Geolocation is a tracking system that would let the media platform know when a student is passing certain buildings on campus.
For example, when passing the Health and Counseling Services building, the app would alert students of programs available to them. Or when a GU student walks into the Hemmingson Center, they could be alerted of events happening on campus.
“I think this [geolocation within the app] could be cool for things like the COG, the gym or games. Such as what food is available and capacity,” said Matthew Loutsis, a sophomore accounting major. “Sort of like a snap map type of thing, or the capacity meter that Planet Fitness has to see how many people are there which is nice to know how busy it is before you get there.”
Isabell Simpson, a freshman accounting major, echoed a similar sentiment.
“It would be nice if the app could include RFC reservations and updates on certain classes and events going on in the fitness center.”
The process for the app to be developed has to go through different steps. Vandenboom said they have received the initial go ahead and presented it to the cabinet called the Project Review Committee (PRC), the PRC is made up of faculty and staff. If the cabinet approves then they start looking at vendors, app engineers and what students want in the app.
Vandenboom hopes to have the app approved by May so she can start to find a company to build the media platform for students.
The app initially will be available for students and eventually be a hub for faculty and staff. GU alumni have their own app already.
If students want to give their input on features for the app, suggestions or concerns, they can connect with Vandenboom via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.