By Nelly Gitau, Wambui Mwangi, Brenda Munene and Mark Kariuki
Confucius once said that a wise man adapts himself to circumstances, as water shapes itself to the vessel that contains it. This great proverb demonstrates the age old understanding that, in order to survive, one must be adaptable. This line of thinking has never been more relevant than in the digital age. In the digital age, life moves at a faster rate than ever. It’s all about keeping up with this fast pace – it’s about move it or lose it. Nothing is immune. From social, political and economic systems – everything is being forced to adapt in order to remain relevant. One of the most affected social systems is learning. Ken Robinson talks about bringing on the learning evolution is his TED Talk below. Essentially the idea is that millennials have grown up in a digital world, therefore reasoning only suggests that learning also needs to go digital.
This brings us to universities which are a corner-stone for learning and innovations. The digital revolution is necessitating them to roll out solutions that take advantage of these advances. Aspects like E-learning, online portals, e-libraries, e-books, e-journals and e-resources are just among some of the new ideas being rolled out. Unique websites are also helping schools get noticed, and remain relevant. One of the gaps that still remains, especially in the African context, is mobile Apps for universities.
Kenya has been on top of its game in terms of creating killer innovations. We are the home of innovations like M-pesa, M-shwari, M-Akiba, little cab, Equitel and a whole host of other firsts. The kind of innovations that we are developing point to one thing – the power of mobile. Currently in Kenya, mobile handset penetration is at 88% with smartphones accounting for 44%. Mobile is where it’s at.
Data from Mobile application analytics firm Flurry note that app stores have availed more than 300,000 apps. They also note that the average time spent per day on mobile devices is 2 hours, 38 minutes, which closely matches another study by eMarketer which states that time spent is 2 hours 21 minutes. Of this, 80% of mobile device time is spent in apps, 20% in the browser. This clearly demonstrates the potential that lies in apps.
Why then wouldn’t a university exploit this growing trend to get closer to its students and alumni? We have therefore come up with a new kick-ass app for the 21st century university . With it sits in the gap between online resources availed by universities and the communication models that Kenyan millennials are most comfortable with. The app will be the thorough student companion, from direct messaging, voting systems, it can be your school id, emergency and important updates, calendars and scheduling, alerts from lecturers and company recruitment among others.
Users of the app will be assigned different roles. Member, these can be students, administrators or lecturers who can only view and participate on activities in the app. Editor, have full control on the content sections of the app. Authors who are users, they can write, edit, and publish their own posts. They can also delete their own posts, even if they are published. Contributors can add new posts and edit their own posts, but they cannot publish any posts not even their own. It has to be approved and published by their author or editor.
The Administrator is the most powerful user role. These users can add new posts, edit any posts by any users on the site, and even delete those posts. They manage the whole app content.
The last user is the external stakeholder, these are users who are not affiliated (staff or student) to the university though they have key interest in the university e.g a company that is collaborating with the university to conduct a joint CSR program.
Now that’s getting With it!