Ryerson launches Smartphone application

This September, Ryerson University launched a Smartphone application which aims to help students connect with the university and access essential day-to-day services.

The application, accessible from any Smartphone browser, allows students to check their class schedule, consult a campus map, browse the staff and faculty directory, book study rooms in the library and manage their library accounts.

The initiative began in 2008 when the university library began exploring the option of making their online services accessible from mobile phones.

“Last fall we did a survey to look at mobile device use with students on campus,” said Sally Wilson, web services librarian at Ryerson.

With a strong response in favour of the initiative, other departments in the university took interest in expanding their services as well.

Ryerson’s Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) held focus groups following the library’s initial surveys to establish the needs of students in different faculties.

“Students wanted to look up a few things, the first was they wanted to view their class schedule and they wanted to be able to search the [library] catalogue,” said Graham McCarthy, library systems analyst.

“It’s accessible to students, staff and faculty with a lot of services geared towards quick look-up… a lot of quick things you can do on the fly,” added McCarthy.

The application was developed over the course of the summer by university staff, including McCarthy, and three students hired under the Ontario Work-Study Program.
Having students work on the project ensured that it consistently kept the needs of students in mind.

“As a student you’re also kind of developing it for yourself,” said Ryan Kent, a fourth-year new media student and designer of the application.

“I’ve used it a whole bunch for just wandering around getting phone numbers and schedules,” said Adam Carlucci, a fourth-year new media student and application programmer.

The bulk of the cost of developing the program were the salaries of McCarthy, already library staff, and the three students hired for the duration of the summer. The exact cost of the project has yet to be calculated.

The university is continuing to work on the application to include more services for students.

“One [of the next services will be] an events schedule where you can see what’s going on on-campus in a calendar form,” said McCarthy. “[It] will hopefully include all the information from the various different groups on campus.”

A portal is currently being developed for students to provide feedback on the service and inspire future additions to the application.