Infomation on the go

Educational institutions are using mobile apps to update exam schedules, admission notices and offer career counselling to students. Sanchayan Bhattacharjee finds out more.

Now-a-days most students in the country are comfortable using smart phone applications. Messaging, playing games, keeping track of news etc. are just some of the popular uses of various mobile apps. Evidently, students spend a significant amount of time on their phones. Responding to this phenomenon, Gurpreet Singh, professor, Delhi University (DU) decided to come up with an app called ‘DU app’ to provides information about courses, syllabi and events and enable easier and better communication between the students and the University.

Delhi University has a website but it is not always easy to keep track of changes. “The website changes almost every six hours as it needs to be updated with information about various departments, courses and events etc. An app ensures better navigation,” explains Singh. In addition to the DU app, Singh has also designed the DU UG admission app which helps students to download, fill and submit forms during the admission process. Both the apps (each less than 5MB in size) are available for downloading from the DU website as well as Google Playstore.

One important distinction between the app and the website is the balance of static versus dynamic content. “Around 30-40 per cent of the content on the app does not change. To save bandwidth, this content is kept static while links to the website are provided for content that may change at regular intervals,” informs Singh adding that saving on bandwidth is important as not every student can afford a 3G network. Jasleen Kaur, a student of Spanish language, is one of the many users of both the apps. She says “I use the app to check the exam schedules as well as to keep track of the placement cell updates.” Both these apps rely on collating information from the website and presenting it in a mobile friendly format.

Bharti College, Delhi too recently launched its own mobile app. While the broad categories of information are similar to the DU app, the content is much more specific and helpful to its students. “More than 60 per cent of the information can even be accessed offline, so a phone internet is not always essential,” says Astha Sukhija, student president, Bharti College. In addition to this, the affiliation of the college to DU enables both the apps to work in tandem. “Our app also consists of links from the DU app which provides information about competitive exams,” explains Sukhija.

Directorate of Technical Education (DTE), Madhya Pradesh will soon launch an app for career counselling for all professional courses. “The app will be similar to WhatsApp. A student may ask a question on the app and receive an appropriate reply from the counsellor,” says Ashish Dongre, its director. Dongre says it was the messenger apps on mobiles that led to this idea. “Students seem to be using chatting platforms frequently, so we decided to use one for academic purposes.”

Academic institutions have for long been outsourcing the app creation work to a third party. For example, Ipomo designed an app for PES University, Mangalore that helps students track attendance and other academic details in real time. While more than 5,000 students from PES have downloaded the app, around 40,000 students across the country have also downloaded the app to avail the mock test facility for competitive exams. “Students can take class tests which are administered by the college as part of their assessments and get instant results. Professors can upload the class notes, assignments, conduct quizzes, contests, polls, seminar papers etc.,” says BN Prashanth, vice president, Ipomo.

It is evident that academic institutions across the country have realized the usefulness of mobile apps and are quickly taking advantage of its reach among students. With the expansion of 3G and roll out of the 4G network on the horizon, the scope of creating better and even more useful apps will only widen.