Report: Mobile app use exploding on campus

The number of private universities deploying mobile apps rose to 50 percent from 42 percent in fall 2010.

Colleges and universities have made significant gains in deploying mobile applications over the past year, according to the 2011 Campus Computing Survey, the largest continuing study of higher-education technology use in the United States. But the survey also suggests that colleges have been slow to move key operational and research functions to cloud computing, and budget constraints continue to affect campus ed-tech services.

The 2011 survey shows big gains in the percentage of schools deploying mobile apps, and these gains appear across all types of institutions.

More than half (55 percent) of public universities have activated mobile apps or plan to do so in the coming year, compared to a third (33 percent) in fall 2010. Public four-year colleges also posted good gains (44 percent in 2011, up from 18 percent in fall 2010), while the numbers more than tripled among community colleges (41 percent this year vs. 12 percent last fall).

Private institutions also saw gains in mobile app deployment. The number of private universities deploying mobile apps rose to 50 percent from 42 percent in fall 2010, and among private four-year colleges, the number rose from 25 percent to 44 percent.

“Several factors explain these dramatic gains,” said Kenneth C. Green, founding director of the Campus Computing Project. “Students come to campus expecting to use mobile apps on their smart phones and tablets to navigate campus resources and use campus services. Also important is that compared to a year ago, more firms—both LMS and ERP providers—now offer mobile options for their campus clients.”

Green, who unveiled the 2011 survey’s findings during the EDUCAUSE educational technology conference in Philadelphia, noted that some ed-tech providers now offer free mobile apps, which means the cost of going mobile has changed dramatically in the past year.

Other ed-tech providers have launched services to help colleges and universities create their own campus apps. For instance, AT&T demonstrated a service called MEAP during EDUCAUSE. MEAP, which stands for “Mobile Enterprise Application Platform,” helps colleges tie their back-office systems together and make these services available as a mobile app.

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