Assistant News Editor
Students will now be able to access the features available on my.butler from their smartphones via a Butler University mobile app.
The app directs users to the new mobile site Information Technology launched in the spring of this year. The app contains links to a campus directory, alerts, news, course catalogues, various calendars and other services.
“We’re on a journey to continue to make Butler’s services available in the mobile world,” said Scott Kincaid, chief information officer. “The app is just a start, but it’s a notable start. Over time we want somebody to go to their app as the first place and have a rich, good experience.”
Students can now access their grades, course schedule, financial information and working hours for on-campus jobs.
“My.butler is cumbersome and difficult to use, and we know that but there isn’t a whole lot we can do about it,” said David Alder, senior web systems analyst. “We’d like to make it easier for students and faculty to do the basic needs that they do regularly.”
As of publication, the app has about 400 downloads.
The app also contains a Welcome Week schedule and campus map, which Alder believes will help incoming students become acclimated to life on Butler’s campus.
“It’s good for freshmen and easy to navigate,” said senior Chris Thompson, after browsing the app. “It’s a cool, easy way to find things you need.”
Thompson said he does not own a smart phone because he prefers a computer instead of touch screens, which are common on smartphones.
Mobile accessibility was a priority of the 2010 Technology Master Plan, created by a committee comprised of faculty from all colleges, administration, staff and some students. The plan outlines how technology at Butler would change over the next five years, Kincaid said.
As technology changes, people are relying more on their smart phones and less on a PC or a Mac, he said.
More pieces of my.butler will be available during the year. Alder’s developing team is planning to unveil the option to register for classes through the app in the spring, although Kincaid believes the phone would be better used for basic tasks such as checking grades, searching classes and library catalogues, and using Moodle.
A full Moodle app will be available sometime in November and will most likely be linked to the Butler app.
“It’s kind of like renovating Hinkle; you’re going to continue to be enhancing it,” Kincaid said.
As feedback comes in via a direct link on the app, Alder and his developing team will be able to determine what features to add to the app.
“People will use it in ways we don’t always envision, and that’s the cool part of social-oriented media,” Kincaid said. “You don’t always know how to use it, so you watch how they use it and build on that.”
So far, the two main suggestions have been adding HRC hours and a fix my butler form. Fix my butler received more than 1,200 submissions last year.
“The bottom line is we need to engage students in the way that they want to be engaged,” Kincaid said. “This is really more about meeting students where they’re at. If we don’t do it, we’re not relevant.”
The developing team worked with a focus group and SGA to determine the demand for the app and features to include.
“I would rather go directly to the representatives of the students,” Alder said. By going to general assembly, he said he could ensure he had access to all of the student organizations on campus.
“I’d like to reach out to students this fall to see what their thoughts are,” Alder said.