icon for the University's iNorthampton appAs part of a wide project on Mobile Access to Learning and Teaching (MALT), in October 2010 the University of Northampton conducted a survey to ask staff and students about their needs with regards to mobile technology. The survey told us that demand was high – over 50% of staff and students already owned smartphones – and identified the need for more directed support and services within this area.

More specifically , the services rated most useful included: NILE (the institutional learning environment); timetables; University news; library and maps.

As a result of the needs identified, a project was commissioned to produce a mobile solution. The project brought together teams from across the University, including Marketing, the Web team, Library, Student Services, CIS and Learning Technology, as well as interested staff  from the Schools. The detailed work took several months to complete, as we needed to revisit information being pushed out by a whole range of institutional systems, and reformat these with the user experience in mind.

The project team has worked closely with the chosen supplier (Blackboard, the company who also make the software we call NILE) throughout the summer, and iNorthampton – which includes mobile apps for the three main platforms, as well as a mobile web version – was created as a result. Needs identified from the survey were prioritised in order to create the first release of the app (‘Phase 1’), which went ‘live’ in the app stores in September 2011.

Phase 1 (Sept 2011)

  • Campus Maps for Park and Avenue
  • Timetables and course info
  • Ability to browse the library catalogue
  • See University related videos and photos
  • Latest campus news
  • Ability to find staff in the University communications directory and get in touch instantly
  • Latest University events
  • Access to learning resources on NILE

Phase 2…….and beyond

The pace of change is rapid in the mobile environment, and so iNorthampton is an iterative project – we anticipate this will be ongoing with continuous improvement based on feedback and needs. We have already identified some priorities to look into for ‘Phase 2’ (including linking events to locations on the map, including travel information, information on accommodation; and links for the digital prospectus). We’d love to hear your ideas.

Further suggestions

iNorthampton is owned by the staff and students of The University and we need to ensure that it provides the tools and services which you want to see on your mobile devices. If you have any suggestions or comments, please send them to the team at

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