There's an app for that - Shoreline Community College goes mobile

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Actually, there are two apps and more on the way.

Shoreline Community College is going mobile in an effort to meet students where they are, wherever they are. Shoreline is the first community college in the state to launch full-featured “apps” for Apple and Android mobile devices. A Blackberry option is on the way and a Windows version is anticipated. The college also has a new mobile Web site.

In the coming weeks, the college will launch a new communication service, Connect–ED, that sends emergency and other important messages via e-mail, texts, voicemail to cellular and land-line phones and even to TTY-TTD devices for the hearing impaired.

And, they all tie in with the college’s existing learning management system that can allow students to go to class on their smartphone, iPad or other mobile device.

“These are big steps for us, but they are just first steps,” Shoreline Community College President Lee Lambert said. “Students have an expectation of this kind of service. We all have that expectation in our everyday lives, it shouldn’t be different when you go to college.

The new apps were created in partnership with Blackboard, the same company Shoreline uses for its online learning system. Both the Apple and Android apps provide:
  • Directory – Look up contact info for Shoreline faculty and staff, save contacts and e-mail to a phone or mobile device.
  • Courses – Access the class schedule for the current term, and the next term as soon as it is published.
  • Learn - Check in on class assignments and other information posted in Blackboard and even go to class in some cases with Blackboard Mobile Learn.
  • Videos – Tune in to Shoreline’s YouTube channel.
  • Images – See a sampling of photos from campus events on Shoreline’s Flickr feed.
  • Get Help - Emergency phone numbers and other contact information.

Connect–ED - a communication service that provides college officials with the ability to reach students, faculty and staff with time-sensitive information within minutes - is also being implemented through the partnership with Blackboard.

“Statistics show Shoreline to be a safe campus, but we must prepare for situations that we hope never happen,” Shoreline President Lee Lambert said. “The ability to have immediate communication during emergency situations plays an important role in the safety and security of our students, employees and the surrounding community. This new tool gives us that ability.”

Contact information for about 10,000 current students and employees is already loaded into the Connect-ED system. The college is sending a test e-mail and phone message on Jan. 17. A second test, a text message, will be sent Jan. 23 to students and employees who provide a phone number for texts.

It is important that all current students and college employees go to to confirm, change or add contact information and preferences for Connect-ED.

“Depending on the service plan, receiving a text message can cost the user money. So for that part of the service, we’re asking students and employees to go to our Web site and choose their preferences,” said Jim Hills, special assistant to the president for communications, marketing and government relations. “No system is perfect, but the more ways we have to communicate important and emergency messages, the better chance we have of keeping people informed and safe.”

The new mobile Web site was created in partnership with Hearst Seattle Media, the sales arm of The site includes mobile versions of pages about programs, cost, enrollment, online classes, photos and contact information. The mobile site also includes a link back to the main college Web site. “Hearst has been a big help in quickly getting the college into the mobile environment,” Hills said.

For students, the core is the Blackboard learning management system.

Blackboard Learn is Web-based software that provides students and instructors a set of tools to post class materials online and easily communicate with each other. Shoreline uses Blackboard to deliver its online and hybrid courses and to provide Web-based resources for many on-campus classes. Students can access Blackboard from anywhere they have Internet access.

In addition, Shoreline adds Blackboard Mobile Learn, giving students and faculty access to their courses, content and organizations on a variety of mobile devices including iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, BlackBerry and Palm smartphones. Initially, Mobile Learn was available only for Sprint customers, but through an agreement with Blackboard, it is now available regardless of carrier.

There is no additional fee from the college to students for any of the online services, although cellular phone companies may charge for data services and text messages.

Ann Garnsey-Harter, director of eLearning for Shoreline, said the steps support all students regardless of how and where they attend classes. “While we offer four degrees completely online and one more mostly online along with eight certificates, these additional online services are available to everyone,” Garnsey-Harter said.

President Lambert has previously announced that Shoreline would move ahead with a virtual-college initiative.

In March, 2011, a 64-page “Blueprint for a Virtual College: Report to the President’s Senior Executive Team” was presented to Lambert and other college officials by Garnsey-Harter and Stuart Trippel, acting director of financial services.

The blueprint concludes the college should take an “approach that will build upon the College’s existing strengths: offering high quality online instruction at an affordable price. … Using this incremental approach, the immediate recommended goal is to improve existing online instructional offerings and to package them comprehensively, and – equally if not more importantly – to address internal process barriers in the area of student services.

“The mobile apps we’ve launched are milestones, visible evidence that we’re making progress,” Lambert said. “We’re following the blueprint, taking the steps necessary to make sure we’re meeting the needs of our students and the community.”


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