We are pleased to announce the latest release of iNorthampton which has been updated in response to staff and student feedback. This release builds on many of the requests which have been made, along with providing an excellent foundation for further development.
General Improvements based on feedback
“Need to be able to personalise the app more”
We have included the ability to define your role when using the app from the first launch. This puts a framework in place to enable us to deliver more personalised information in the future.
You are now able to rearrange the tools on the springboard to move the ones you use most to the top – or just to a new page (currently only available on iOS).
Specific improvements to current tools:
You want updates/improvements to Maps. “And maybe a campus walkthrough, using video or augmented reality”
The main campus maps have been updated and will continue to be updated as new maps are released.
We have made augmented reality functionality available for iNorthampton on the iPhone 4 and 4S. Users of these devices can now lay a map of key buildings on top of the picture they see on screen through their camera lens. This dynamically updates as the phone moves to reflect each building and its distance from the phone.
We are currently looking at a tour to be included in a later release.
You would like “to be able to check your library account and renew books”
The library website has become more ‘mobile friendly’ and you will be directed to this when you have conducted a search. You will see a link termed “View availability on Library Site” which will take you to the library site and allow you to login to check your account and renew books. We’re still looking into ways to bring these links into iNorthampton.
“There should be more content from the Students’ Union”
We have worked with the Students’ Union to add SU news, the SU Youtube channel and SU photo galleries. You will see these when viewing the ‘news’, ‘videos’ and ‘images’ links from the springboard whilst in either the ‘Current Student’ or ‘Prospective Student’ profiles.
“I want to get notifications/reminders from NILE”
This is now available as part of a separate download of Blackboard Mobile Learn rather than being part of the app at this stage – we hope to bring it into iNorthampton very soon. The separate Mobile Learn App is recommended for iPad users in any case as it has been optimised for this device.
The link to NILE within iNorthampton will still provide mobile access to all of your sites on NILE and has been used in a number of pilot projects in The School of Arts and also Science and Technology.
“Why can’t I get NILE on my Blackberry?”
You can – but you have to get the separate Blackboard Mobile Learn app. It’s not possible to build this into another app on the Blackberry platform as it stands. We’re hoping that upcoming changes to the Blackberry operating system will allow us to improve the iNorthampton experience for Blackberry users.
Improvements to the timetable module – “I don’t want to have to log in every time, and should show more of my timetable when I do”
The iNorthampton link to timetables has been completely redesigned for Phase 2 and now allows:
- The ability to pick any date in the academic year
- Timetable location now links to Google Maps to assist with finding the building where room is located.
- Improved help and advise
“Can we have a tool to report faults in halls?”
A telephone number has been included in the “Get Help” section of iNorthampton , and we are still investigating a more detailed GPS-based solution for a future development (sorry, no dates for this yet).
Suggestions for new features
“Please add bus times / traffic information / parking information / car sharing site / taxi numbers to the app”
Northamptonshire County Council have their own app (called NCC) for Android and iPhone, which was developed by staff here at the University. This already has live bus timetables, so we’d recommend you use this if you can. They also supply a text service to send bus times to your mobile. Sadly this does mean that the NCC won’t let us use the timetable data, but we’re looking at including links to the timetables on the website, as well as to traffic information and the car sharing website.
At present we can’t collect the data for how many parking spaces are free at any one time on site, but we have asked Infrastructure Services to look into this for us.
The University does not have a recommended taxi company, so we won’t be supplying taxi numbers, sorry.
“The app should include email, and access to file storage”
We took the decision not to include email, as smartphones already include a tool to integrate this. File storage is a little more complex, as iOS devices in particular do not have an accessible folder structure where files are stored. There are a few web-based alternatives available though. Apart from files in NILE, you can also access documents stored on the web (or in cloud services like Google docs or Windows Live) through a mobile browser.
“It would be great to include links to other apps that are useful for learning”
We didn’t want to bulk out the app with these, as they may not all be relevant to all users. However when we find useful apps, we will be adding recommendations to our LearnTech blog. If you’d like to make a recommendation, or write a guest post, just let us know!
“Opening times and menus for the restaurants would be good, and links to offers from Greggs!”
We’re looking at adding ‘places of interest’ to the maps in phase 3, and this will include all the eating places, hopefully along with opening times and menus. If you want offers from Greggs, they will give them to you – but only in exchange for a like from your Facebook account.
“A tool which shows the nearest free PC would be good”
We are still awaiting further development in this area and will update iNorthampton when this becomes available.
We are also pleased to announce that Northampton’s experience with iNorthampton has also featured in an international Blackboard marketing campaign.
The app has been downloaded over 13,600 times during the past year.
If you have further suggestions to share, they are always welcome. Send them to the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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