AppWars: "Melbourne's Finest"

vic universities 2
Posted under: From the Blog 3rd of June, 2011

In Victoria, there are eight universities that are members of CAUDIT, surprisingly, only five of these have actually developed mobile apps for their university community, and of these five, two of them have also included mobile support for their website.  From their websites and the AppStore, the three universities that have yet to take on mobile apps are  Monash University, RMIT University and the University of Ballarat. Swinburne University and Victoria University were the two universities that also included mobile support for their websites.

The three other universities are Deakin University, La Trobe University and University of Melbourne.  However, the Deakin University app was created by their Student Association using a default template for diary and calendar functions. I found 3 other universities whose Student Guilds and associations have also used this same template, the only difference being the colours and the logo. The templates are used for socialising eg. as a diary, calendar, discounts for nearby restaurants – all a bit superficial considering the iPhone already has a calendar. So really not much to compare except how they use their colours. In a similar vein, the Swinburne University app, was not created so much for everyday university student/staff use, but rather to help new students decide which course they might want to pursue at Swinburne based on their ATAR. Lastly, La Trobe University app, aptly names OWeek11, was created for orientation week only and therefore doesn’t have most features expected of a university app, with the exception of maps.

Hence to provide some consistency with my previous blog when I compared QUT and Griffith mobile apps, I’ve decided to leave Deakin, La Trobe and Swinburne out of this comparison.

This leaves just University of Melbourne and Victoria University to be compared against each other. While both universities are very close to each other in most fields, Victoria University edges out University of Melbourne because of it User-Specific Features.

Features University of Melbourne Victoria University
Layout 2/5 2/5
News 3/5 4/5
Contacts 4/5 2/5
Maps 3/5 4/5
Travel 3/5 2/5
User-specific Features 0/5 2/5
Overall 15/30 16/30

Following same format as last time (leaving out Computer Availability since neither universities include it):

Features

University of Melbourne

Victoria University

Layout

Both university apps use the same layout with the tab menu at the bottom, which opens up the rest of the screen.  This layout format, allows users, when they select from the tab menu, to then view information without losing the tab menu.

The Home Screen is a slideshow of photos taken from on-campus. A tab menu is provided at the bottom for access to other features of the app.Features included are: “Home”, Directory, Web Search, News, Maps. Home Screen consists of a list of all campuses that are part of Victoria University. All other features of the app are located in the tab menu at the bottom.Features included are: Campuses, Contacts, What’s On, About VU.
News

Both universities use the same delivery system in the use of a news feed, giving the title of the article as well as when the article was created.

Very up to date list of all news that is related to the university.  News title and time of creation are included. When a news title is selected it brings up the full story as well as the option to open the article in Safari. Aptly called “What’s On”, provides a list of all current events that are happening in the university. Upon selecting one of the events, it provides the information screen, as well as including an option to add to the iPhone’s calendar
Contacts Though there are no preset searches, the directory allows the user to find both staff and services at the university.  It also provides a more in-depth search to aid with looking for particular staff via their first names, last names or department. Provides numbers for some common services such as Student Enquiries, Security, Course Enquiries and General Enquiries. Provides link to website to be opened in Safari.
Maps UniMelb has three different maps available: OpenStreetMap (a clumsy version of GoogleMap that provides more key data, but no Legend is provided) GoogleMap (for navigating streets easily), and Satellite View (if the students needs to use Landmarks to gain their bearings).Each type map has a different purpose, some executed better than others, which is to aid the student when navigating around the campus. VU provides a campus map as well as google map to help the user. GoogleMap makes it easier to find the university, while the campus map helps student when they’re on campus (surprise). Though the campus map do not contain the walkways, upon further inspection of a building, the app allows the user to select any individual floor to look at the floor plan.  All buildings and the rooms within each floor are all labelled with their room names.
Travel Available in three different forms, the maps are all useful in helping user to locate buildings and such on campuses, as well as providing other information like pathways, parkings, etc.  However, there is no Legend and while it is somewhat to discern what some of the symbols mean, a Legend is a must. The campus maps show very little in terms of walkways between building, however the inclusion of parking and the floor plans(which have their own Legend) makes this app quite useful when navigating throughout a building.
User-specific Features Unfortunately UniMelb does not currently have any user-specific features included in it yet. The app allows users to take from the “What’s On” Event list and add them to their calendars. Though this is not overly significant, the implications of being able to add the students timetable to the calendar is.

Victorian Members of CAUDIT (and their current app status):

Deakin University
Mr Peter Brusco (Director – Information Technology Services Division)

“DUSA App” – Made by the Student Association, serves as a diary/calendar for social events.

La Trobe University
Mr Ged Doyle (Acting CIO)

“OWeek11″ – For Orientation Week, not a complete app.

Monash University
Mr Ian Tebbett (CIO – Information Technology Services Division)

No iPhone App (as of 03/06/11)

RMIT University
Mr Brian Clark (Executive Directive – Information Technology Services)

No iPhone App (as of 03/06/11)

Swinburne University of Technology
Assoc. Prof Richard Constantine (CIO and Director – Information Technology Services)

“Swinburne” – Not a university app for everyday use, but rather to help users find a course based upon their interests and ATAR.

University of Ballarat
Mr John Dixon (Director – ICT Services, Information Services)

No iPhone App (as of 03/06/11)

University of Melbourne
Mr Sendur Kathir (Executive Director IT and CIO)

“UniMelb” – Standard university app, slideshow photos connect to map.

Victoria University
Mr Phil County (Director – Information Technology Services)

“VU” – Standard university app, addition of Calendar Function and Floor plans makes it stand out.

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