Q & A: How College of Saint Mary uses mobile technology to engage its students
November 12, 2018
By MobileUp Software
Located in Omaha, NE, College of St. Mary is a MobileUp Software customer who uses our mobile delivery platform to inform and engage its student body of approximately 1,100 students.
Though the school just recently launched its app (August 2018), student life leaders report widespread adoption of the app and a positive impact on their efforts to inform and involve students in campus activities.
We asked Kris Czerwiec, Director of Student Leadership, to share his thoughts about how the MobileUp app has impacted the College of Saint Mary campus.
Director of Student Leadership at College of Saint Mary
What were your goals and/or problems you were hoping to solve by getting an app for your organization?
We are trying to get more involvement with our students across the board.
We are a small private college and the majority of our student population are commuters. One of our strengths is our small tightly knit community of students, staff, and faculty. However, much of that community feeling is with our residential students.
We moved to an engagement app not only to get news about events and college resources in the hands of students (literally) through their phone but also to extend that sense of community to commuter students, even those that only have one or two classes a semester.
What features of your MobileUp app are most effective/popular with your mobile audience?
There are a couple of features we use effectively.
We use separate Discussion boards for the students and for the staff and faculty.
The students regularly use it to post pictures and things going on around campus (especially with the student organizations) and we also use this feature for contests.
For example, we just had Fall Break and we asked the students to share a picture of what they did during that time. We then chose one of them to win a free Amazon gift card.
One of the submissions was a gender reveal party that had happened over the weekend.
As faculty and staff, the app allows us to learn about things that are going on all over campus that we usually wouldn’t know about.
Traditions and ActivitiesStudents also really like completing activities. It has been really interesting to be able to go to the highlight reel so that we can view what life is like at CSM for our students. We generally push them to continue to complete tasks with contests. We haven’t used the leaderboard yet but I think that will lead to even more participation if they have a prize they are working toward.
The app presents students with a list of activities they “complete” by taking a photo at various locations on campus. A highlight reel (right) compiles the photos from the activities into one feed.
Calendars and Events
The calendar feature is the most popular. Our students, staff, and faculty all use this function.
We have multiple calendars that they can choose from and depending on what role they have the default calendars change.
The “students” role includes the programming calendar, which has all the events and activities happening around CSM outside of the classroom and through my office.
The student organizations programming calendar has all of the programs and events the student organizations have scheduled.
We also have the academic calendar available in the app as well as all of the home athletic games.
Further, we have a special tile that we put on the home screen when we want to emphasize events like our orientation week-long programming or for Health Week (programming over the course of a week highlighting health education), Rainbow Days (our week long LBGT pride event), and Friendship Week (a week-long focus on making and maintaining friends).
Students and faculty select which school calendars they want to view and they save individual events to their personal smartphone calendars by tapping the plus signs.
How do you promote the app to add new users?We rolled this out during our orientation programming called Welcome Days. It’s a week-long orientation program that we focus on new students but it also includes returning students. We had posters all over campus promoting prizes and contests during that week for participation and use of the app. One contest focused on increasing involvement with commuter students where we sent an email to encourage them to download the app and log in to win a prize. After one week, we cross-checked the report of students who had logged in against our list of commuter students. We then chose two winners who each received a $50 Amazon gift card. We broadcasted the announcement everywhere including a notification on the app and on myCSM (the college’s student portal). We wanted to make sure people are aware that others are using the app and winning cool prizes! We took a picture of the winners and created a poster that is displayed around campus with instructions to download the app. I am trying to do 1-2 of these contests powered through the app each month. During our involvement fair for the student organizations, we also promoted the app and have setup tables promoting the app all throughout campus all semester.
How does your MobileUp app help you in your job?The app assists in bringing students to events and programs. Some of the feedback students have given us every year is that they don’t always know what is going on throughout campus. With the app, we can easily have them look things up on their phone but also push notification reminders to them about events and programs they might want to go to. Prior to this app, my office had to become very creative when promoting events and programs and a lot of energy was spent chasing students around to remind them and make sure things were at the forefront of their minds, which is difficult because they are all very busy thinking about their classes and projects. With the app, we have been able to save some time and energy on our event promotion efforts because we know we can be effective in reaching students on their phones. We now make sure events and details are in the app and send notifications to the students every once in awhile (once a day maximum) so they don’t get bogged down too much and turn them off.
From left to right, these screens show how College of Saint Mary sends a notification that ties into a tile on the app home screen and a calendar listing of related events.