Mason aims to make university services more accessible through new app

Mobile Mason is a new app that was made available to students in August (photo courtesy of Ji Kang, GMU Creative Services).
Mobile Mason is a new app that was made available to students in August (photo courtesy of Ji Kang, GMU Creative Services).

Students will have easier access to university services this fall with the launch of Mobile Mason, George Mason University’s official mobile application. The app, which took about a year to plan and develop, offers a variety of free tools to students.

“People love the map,” said Kim Shriver, senior web developer from Web Communications in the University Relations office. 

“It was a joint venture between University Relations, Creative Services, and ITU,” Shriver said. The project was also created in partnership with Blackboard Mobile, the company that hosts Mason’s Blackboard services. According to Shriver, over 50 colleges have created apps in conjunction with Blackboard Mobile. 

Blackboard provides general frameworks for their “college apps” and then the colleges themselves add key information.

“We provided the mapping coordinates. We provided the RSS feed for the news, the photo gallery and the videos,” said Shriver.

Mobile Mason allows students to access university news, images, videos, their blackboard accounts and scores of their favorite sports teams. It also provides contact information for emergency services on campus, such as the University Police and the Environmental Health and Safety office.

Mason paid $30,000 to Blackboard in an annual contract for developing Mobile Mason.

“It saves a lot of time and resources that we don’t have,” Shriver said.

“The more difficult part was getting the licensing agreement with Apple,” Shriver said. “Having to go through the legalities of it took a while.”

According to Shriver the total downloads for the app, as of August 27 were 3,500 for iPhones, 780 for Android and 70 for Blackberry. Students can download the app directly from their smart phones through Google Play for Android, the App Store for iPhone or App World for Blackberry.

There have been many students who have expressed interest in adding different modules to the application, and getting involved in future updates. According to Shriver, updates for the app will be released in the spring of next year.

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