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Saint Mary’s IT department releases app

| Friday, February 20, 2015

SMCMobileAppWebErin Rice | The Observer

The Department of Information Technology (IT) released BelleMobile today as part of Saint Mary’s first ever Social Media Week.

Chief Information Officer Michael Boehm said BelleMobile allows students to check information on their phone which in the past, they might have had to find on the Saint Mary’s website or through a visit with somebody on campus.

“Now [students] have the ability to search number of things related to campus activity through their phones, whether it’s their course schedule or the master calendar,” he said.

The app allows students to check their grades, a calendar of campus events, available computers on campus and even the lunch menu and laundry availability, Boehm said.

“BelleMobile, as with most apps, is a matter of convenience,” Boehm said. “It provides information at your fingertips.”

Boehm said IT worked with a vendor called Dublabs that has created apps for over 200 schools.

“We got a lot of knowledge from [Dublabs] about what functionalities work and don’t work in their experience working with other institutions,” he said.

Boehm said in addition to Dublabs, Saint Mary’s associate director of technology integration and software development Steve Hideg did a lot of the work behind the scenes in order for the app to release this week.

Another feature of the app is a map, which can give the user directions to academic buildings on campus, Boehm said.

“It will be very helpful for new students when they are trying to figure out where their classes are,” he said. “The maps feature is also a huge benefit when parents are coming for the weekend, trying to figure out where various meeting places are around campus. They can use the app to give them directions.”

Boehm said another benefit of the app for Saint Mary’s is that the College can send push notifications to the users of the app as often as necessary.

“If there was a big function, like reunion weekend, we can put the list of activities on the app and push it to the users,” he said.

In the case of emergencies or important school-wide updates, the app will serve as another avenue to reach users and notify them with an urgent message, Boehm said.

Boehm said BelleMobile also brings all the information that is available through other avenues into one place, including links to the Notre Dame athletics calendar and The Observer.

The most valuable feature of the app will depend on the preference of the user, Boehm said.

“There are some users who will find the connection to BlackBoard and checking their grades as the best feature of the app, but there are other students who might appreciate the interaction with social media,” he said.

Boehm said BelleMobile is an evolving tool that IT will periodically update, incorporating user feedback as users download the app.

“The nice thing about mobile app technology is that we can continue to evolve and update the mobile app based on our user needs,” he said. “The primary audience is our students, so if after a period of time the consensus is to add new functionality, we will update to support user requests and needs.”

Boehm said he hopes students find the information BelleMobile provides valuable and convenient.

“The whole idea of a mobile app is to make life more convenient, to provide information to our students that is timely and effective,” he said.

Users can download BelleMobile at http://www.saintmarys.edu/~bellemobile. The app is also available on the App Store and Google Play.

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About Haleigh Ehmsen

A senior at Saint Mary's, Haleigh is majoring in Communication Studies and English Literature & Writing. She serves as the Saint Mary's editor and enjoys coffee, guacamole and good books.

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