District launches mobile app

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Dr. Thomas Cleary, vice chancellor for planning, performance, and information systems, presents MyAlamo, the district’s new mobile phone app, to the board of trustees during a regular board meeting Tuesday.  Photo by David Torres

Dr. Thomas Cleary, vice chancellor for planning, performance, and information systems, presents MyAlamo, the district’s new mobile phone app, to the board of trustees during a regular board meeting Tuesday. Photo by David Torres

MyAlamo features a directory, catalog and emergency information.

By ALMA LINDA MANZANARES

amanzanares6@student.alamo.edu 

Students can download MyAlamo, a free mobile app that includes a directory, emergency contact information and news feeds, off the App Store for iOS operating system and Google Play for Android operating system.

Dr. Thomas Cleary, vice chancellor for planning, performance and information systems, reported to district trustees at Tuesday’s regular monthly meeting that Phase 1 of MyAlamo is complete; however, the app is not available on the Blackberry AppWorld because Blackberry is the “minority of the market.”

MyAlamo, the district’s app for mobile phones  Photo by Riley Stephens

MyAlamo, the district’s app for mobile phones Photo by Riley Stephens

“If you have a Blackberry, I encourage you to trade that in for an Android or an iPhone,” Cleary said.

Phase 1 of MyAlamo features a directory of faculty, staff and students; a detailed course directory with times and locations; college catalogs; feeds with district news ; video feeds; emergency contact information; links to the college’s websites; and links to the district’s Facebook and Twitter.

Cleary said the district partnered with Blackboard, the company that created the learning management system the district has adopted, to create the app at a cost of $66,000.

“We think this will payoff 100 times over,” he said.

Cleary said in spring 2011, information technology services surveyed 1,638 students representing the five colleges.

He said 78 percent of students who responded owned a mobile device capable of mobile apps. “I’d imagine that number is closer to 90 percent today,” Cleary said.

He said MyAlamo is part of the BYOD, bring your own device, which leverages the technology that students already have. MyAlamo brings applications and processes to students on their devices, he said.

Cleary said 48 percent of students surveyed wanted a course catalog available on the app; 45 percent wanted college and office operating hours; 48 percent wanted announcements; 39 percent wanted a directory; and 42 percent wanted news and events. “So we’ve done it,” he said. “It gets us out of the hardware business and into the software and delivery business.”

Cleary said Phase 2 of MyAlamo, which he hopes to implement by the end of the spring semester, includes access to secure information and services including a student’s class schedule, registration, financial aid information, academic progress information, course instruction, grades and transcript information.

He said the generation coming into college is a mobile generation that grew up with interacting, communicating and doing business through the Internet and mobile devices.

“These devices go with them so they’ll never not know information that they need to know,” Cleary said.

He said a cost has not been determined for Phase 2 because he is not sure if the district will need to engage another vendor.

“I’d love to have students see their grades at the end of the spring term and be able to start registering online through their mobile apps, and pay and look at transcripts and courses for the summer term,” he said. “I want all the students to be online rather than in line.”

Possibilities for a Phase 3 of MyAlamo are limitless, Cleary said.

For example, Cleary said if there is a laundry facility at the Tobin Lofts, a public-private partnership at this college that has a residential development for students, faculty and staff, an app could be made to tell students when a machine is not being used.

He said parking could also be monitored using an app to tell students where an available parking spot is located.

“It’s endless with this,” Cleary said.

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