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University of Washington
Global mobile U.
As one of the top-ranked public research universities in the world, the University of Washington, based in Seattle, WA, brings together 65,000 students, faculty members and administrative staff. From the laboratory to the dormitory, this thriving academic community stays connected with iPhone and the university’s proprietary m.UW app, which gives students and staff mobile access to campus maps, news, directories, course schedules and lectures.
The University of Washington’s extensive educational offerings include 250 undergraduate and graduate degree programmes within 150 departments, centred in 18 different colleges and schools on three campuses, with programmes offered around the world. “Our students and staff are global, and we need to be connected wherever we are”, says David Morton, Director of Mobile Communication Strategies. “The community, because of its nature, is always on the go”.
To serve the needs of its far-flung students and staff, the university provides the technology and infrastructure to make resources constantly available to its users, regardless of location. While supporting a range of technologies for mobile platforms, the iPhone OS has stepped up as a campus favourite.
“Whether a student is sitting at a desk, walking across campus or halfway around the world, we make sure they are part of the university community”, Morton says. “Our students and iPhone are pushing us — and the rest of the world — where we are going with mobility. iPhone and the technologies it brings together are transforming the way we live, teach and learn”.
The University of Washington IT department, UW Technology, supports mobility with seamless public Wi-Fi for all devices throughout its main campus. Morton estimates that in any given month, over 15,000 handheld mobile devices connect to his network — and about 90 per cent of those are running iPhone OS.
“The community isn’t defined any longer by where we are”, says Grant Kollet, Director of First-Year Programmes at the university. “It’s not about place; the community is about activity, and the activity depends on communication and interaction. iPhone supports how we are doing business and how we are educating”.
iPhone is the go-to communicator because it makes connectivity easy. “We didn’t have to do any custom work to get iPhone users on our network”, says Morton. “The Safari browser is industry-standard, and everything on the Web works on iPhone”.
Faculty and staff can connect via iPhone to the university’s Microsoft Exchange server for push email, calendar and contacts. Users simply type in their Exchange credentials on iPhone, and it auto-discovers their account information. UW users can also use iPhone to connect with standards-based IMAP mail servers, which the university supports as well.
The university maximises learning on the go with its iTunes U site and custom app, m.UW. m.UW is a mobile app available to users, online and for a number of mobile platforms, with the iPhone version quickly becoming most popular. To develop m.UW for iPhone, the university’s web services and integration teams worked alongside an outside developer, taking less than six weeks to finish it.
“The iPhone SDK does make it easy to develop a functioning iPhone application”, Morton says. “You can create and prototype with Xcode and the Interface Builder, so you can try different things and bring them together”.
Available for free in the App Store, the m.UW app gives iPhone users a searchable directory, course information, campus news and events, maps, and more than a thousand video lectures. “When you have m.UW and all that rich University of Washington information, you’re taking connectedness to a whole new level”, says Tony Chang, University of Washington Integration Architect.
Since its release, m.UW has been downloaded thousands of times from people in more than 33 countries. “iPhone gives us an entirely new way of communicating, building community and tailoring information”, says Kollet. “This app is about the university — not just students but also prospective students, faculty, staff and alumni. It’s a way to stay in touch with everything that is going on here, with the energy that is the University of Washington”.
“Having university data easily accessible on iPhone is a marriage made in heaven”, adds Chang. “iPhone is a game-changer that is transforming this university”.
And that transformation has only just begun. “We’re at the start of a mobile technology revolution”, Morton says. “The world of education is changing rapidly in terms of how students learn and interact. We see iPhone as a leader in these directions”.
- 65,000 faculty, staff and students
- Three campuses
- 50 locations in ten countries
- Two leading academic medical centres
“iPhone and the technologies it brings together are transforming the way we live, teach and learn.”
David Morton, Director of Mobile Communication Strategies, University of Washington
“Having university data easily accessible on iPhone is a marriage made in heaven. iPhone is a game-changer that is transforming this university.”
Tony Chang, Integration Architect, University of Washington
“iPhone gives us an entirely new way of communicating, building community and tailoring information.”
Grant Kollet, Director of First-Year Programmes, University of Washington