Custom-Made UTSA Mobile App Feature Helps Prepare New Students and Families for Orientation

July 22, 2016



by Nicole Duff at 8:12 AM in Campus Community, Student Info, News, Interesting

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(Screenshots of the Orientation Module in the UTSA Mobile App).

Incoming students can now have an even more unique experience before their initial day at UTSA, thanks to the orientation module in the UTSA Mobile App. Recently developed by the Office of Information Technology's (OIT) Application Development and Support (ADS) team, in conjunction with their vendor DubLabs, this feature allows new 'Runners and their family access to a wide array of orientation-related information prior to actually attending orientation.

"The orientation module is a good first experience for students because that is their first exposure to UTSA by being part of the orientation," said Jayashree Iyengar, director of ADS. "From a student-experience perspective, they would be introduced to a mobile solution that would take them from day one through their tenure at UTSA."

The idea to create an orientation events management module was first mooted by the Office of Orientation and Family Programs. Initially, they explored the possibility of purchasing the Guidebook Events Management application. However, after meeting with the ADS team along with the Enrollment Information Systems department, and reviewing a demo of the UTSA Mobile App, members of the Office of Orientation and Family Programs decided that going in-house to provide such a feature would be a more viable option with long-term benefits for students – leading to its inclusion in the existing UTSA Mobile App.

Created in less than two months, this module underwent a testing phase that was conducted by the Orientation team. Throughout this two-week process, the team tested the functionality of the module, paying careful attention to ensure that developments made to the module did not affect existing modules prior to its rollout. Based on their feedback and expectations, the module was developed.

This module is designed not only to help familiarize new students with UTSA orientation events, but more importantly, to ease their transition into college. In addition, it aims to keep their family up-to-date on orientation schedules and events. Even more beneficial, is the fact that this module contains Banner integration, thus enabling student users to access course information including schedules, announcements, assignments, and grades.

"The biggest advantage of doing it in the mobile app is that students can use the app for their orientation information, then look at course schedules after they have registered," Iyengar explained. "Students can check their holds, account balances, and learn how to use the mobile app to conduct the rest of their business here at UTSA."

With the new module, users can view complete orientation schedules including locations and a brief description of events planned for both the main and downtown campuses. These schedules are categorized by tracks, namely orange, blue and family and can help users plan their day. Users can also learn about the presenter and provide feedback to help improve the Orientation through the 'Rate my Session' button available for some of the optional sessions.

"We worked with DubLabs to implement a rating system so that students could rate certain sessions and give feedback to the orientation team," explained Bradley Christianson, enterprise system programmer. "The feedback would help the team improve later on and pay attention to what students are looking for."

Another key feature of this module is its directory of all UTSA faculty and staff. Students can easily access the contact information of their academic advisor, whose number is automatically saved to their contacts list. Users can also virtually meet Orientation Leaders (OLs) and access their contact information as well as view frequently asked questions to find answers to common questions they might have.

"The feedback on the orientation module has been positive thus far," said Christianson. "We have received feedback regarding limited guest access for family and staff users, but we are looking to improve that experience, especially for family members."

 

 

For more information, visit http://www.utsa.edu/mobileapp/  or download the UTSA Mobile App:

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