Ball State creates Android app for students to access university information

Topics: Administrative, Emerging Media

December 6, 2011

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A screen shot of the bConnected app open on an Android device demonstrates the ease students have in learning more about their courses, classmates and instructors, all from their mobile phone.
Ball State University has created one of the first student-focused mobile applications in the country with the launch of bConnected for Android mobile and Google TV. The app provides convenient access to valuable student resources, such as grades, class schedules and information related to campus life, student organizations and financial aid awards.

Work on bConnected began when Kyle Parker, Ball State's senior software engineer for developing technologies, was selected to participate in a development opportunity hosted by Google. After the experience, departments under the university's Office of Information Technology collaborated to produce the application, which Google is now featuring on its Google TV blog.

"Through the development of bConnected and other initiatives, the university is pursuing meaningful mobile self-service apps for our students," said Philip Repp, vice president for information technology. "This is an app that helps students conduct important day-to-day transactions and reduces the hassle factor so they can focus more on learning."

The app pulls information from Ball State's website and brings features most useful to students to the forefront on easy-to-access platforms such as smartphones, tablets and Google TV.

"It's designed for the students," Parker said. "We're looking for creative and innovative ideas on different ways we can incorporate the application and Google TV into places where students live, work and play."

While bConnected is exclusively for Ball State students, it showcases what is possible with technology in the higher education community, Parker said. The app is freely available through the Google Code project hosting site so that other universities can customize it for their own applications.

Version 2.0 of bConnected was recently released, and an iPhone version will be released soon. The application is available for all students, faculty and staff to experience on Google TV at the Unified Technology Support Center in Bracken Library. Download the free app for your Android smartphone or tablet at market.android.com.

The Office of Information Technology welcomes feedback on how bConnected can be improved, how to use it across campus and what other features students would find useful. Send suggestions to bconnected@bsu.edu.

By Kait Buck

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