District to launch mobile app as student resource

Current and future features include Blackboard access, class schedules, library catalog, a GPS feature, campus directory and access to lariatnews.com. (Oliver Yu)

Evelyn Caicedo

Monday is the official launch of a mobile application, or app, for students using smart phones.

This app was to accommodate both the Irvine Valley College campus as well as Saddleback College.

Because of the success of Saddleback College’s Facebook page, a move toward keeping up with other trends in communication technology is in the works.

Although the app has already been out since the beginning of the month, it is currently available from the iTunes Stores only for iPhones and iPod touch, and requires Apple iOS 3.1.3.

The app has already received plenty of praise.

“It makes everything more efficient,” said Paris Dalirifar, 18, business. “It puts everything at your fingertips.”

The staff at both Saddleback and Irvine Valley College are always trying to provide information to the students in whichever format they prefer, so getting an app was just the next step for the future, said Amy Wheeler, the public information officer for Saddleback.

Jim Gaston, the associate IT director at South Orange County Community College District, started working with the Blackboard Connect application and from there began the Saddleback app.

He then submitted the idea to the Apple store. After he released his concept, many others helped to make the application a reality.

“[Gaston] has been the driving force,” Wheeler said. “Both IVC and Saddleback’s web design creators have been helping out. The public relations and marketing staff have been providing graphics as well as a lot of others from different departments contributed.”

The app will have a GPS feature to locate any class or specific area on campus as well as locating off-campus local restaurants.

In addition, students would be able to access Blackboard, contact teachers through a campus directory, and click on links that are often requested.

Erin Gray, 18, undecided, got a peek at the new app’s features.

“I like how I can access Blackboard without a computer,” Gray said. “All the features make my life pretty convenient.”

With further updates to the app, the students will soon be able to access the library catalog, view class schedules, add or drop classes, and get news updates of current events on campus through the online version of the Lariat.

“I would definitely use [the new mobile application],” said Andrea Anderson-Tilden, 43, nursing. “This is amazing.”

Staff, faculty and management will be given the opportunity to become familiar with the apps this week during one-hour workshops.

“These apps are going to provide our students some exciting new services and they will place our college at the very front of an important shift in online technology,” President Tod Burnett wrote in an e-mail. “This is an exciting milestone.”

In order to provide the best possible updates for the app, the staff is asking for student feedback for including other possible features.

Wheeler said they are reviewing comments on the Facebook page and will have a support e-mail address when the application officially released.

The next step is to create an app that functions on other smart phones such as Droids and Blackberries.

“It is pretty simple. And we hope it is helpful,” Wheeler said. “We hope to get it out on all platforms as soon as possible so that is our next step after launch.”

Other future plans include updating the current Saddleback website to be mobile friendly. This addition will give any student with internet access on their phone easy access to the website.

For information on what is happening on campus, visit www.facebook.com/SaddlebackCollege.

A screenshot from iTunes showing some of the various features

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