Aurora keeping students in touch with new smartphone app

Aurora keeping students in touch with new smartphone app
Students can track courses and find deals in town with the new Aurora College app.Photo: Dali Carmichael.

Aurora College is striving to keep up with the times with a new informative smartphone application.

Available now, the new software was developed to keep the student body informed and to replace an agenda the school used to provide, an initiative deemed to be too costly and stagnant to continue.

“We did a survey with the students and I found about 30 per cent of people were actually using the agendas,” said Jeff O’Keefe, vice president of Student Affairs. “We just decided that we’d try and get really techno and forward and with the current generation and see if students bought into an app.”

The pick-up has been slow but steady. As of Sept. 3, halfway through registration week, more than 150 students had downloaded the app and created their own personalized accounts.

The initiative is one of the first major steps taken after Student Affairs representatives from the school’s three campuses came together in Fort Smith earlier this year and decided to reinvigorate student services.

“We developed a new vision, mission and values,” O’Keefe said. “We recognize there are rules and policies and all, but we also want to see things from the students’ perspective. Are our processes fair? Are they easy to navigate? We’re always trying to think that way so we continually strive to improve. We’re trying to enrich your college experience, enhance your college life and inspire you to live healthy, well-balanced lives while you’re with us.”

The mobile program was built to help students across the territory.

In addition to being used as an agenda with a dynamic calendar function, the app was designed to help students get better acquainted with each of their respective new homes.

“We want the students who are moving into these communities – Fort Smith, Inuvik and Yellowknife – to not just rely completely on the college for their life and their opportunities, but also to engage with the community and whatever we have on here gives more opportunities for them.”

It also offers an avenue for regional businesses and organizations to share everything from events to deals and discounts with the users.

Like many community Facebook pages, the app serves to organize a plethora of services in one place. Within days of the app’s release, rideshare forums, marketplace offerings, housing options and job openings had already been posted.

Students can use the program for academic purposes as well. Under a “courses” tab, they can input information from course syllabi to keep track of important assignment and test due dates.

“I find it convenient because it helps me, it reminds me when I have a test or what my schedule is and what events are going on,” said Felicia Beaulieu, a second-year business administration student from Behchoko. “It’s better than carrying that book because everyone already has a phone. It’s pretty easy, all the courses you have you can put in there.”

The app was developed by OOHLALA, a Montreal-based company dedicated to the creation of apps for post-secondary institutions.

The Aurora College app is compatible with Android smartphones, iPhones, iPads and tablets.

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