2015 Kurogo Conference Mega Post

This post is the culmination of all the live blog posts I made at the 2015 Kurogo Higher Education Conference…a practice I have that I like to call a “MEGA POST.”  Like any other conference I attend, I make it a point to document the sessions I attend.  This keeps me engaged at all times (often difficult in post-lunch sessions), gives me notes I can refer to later on, and provides a source of information for others who could not attend.

If there’s anything I took away from this conference, it’s that higher education institutions have EXACTLY the same kinds of needs.  The differences between solutions are simply variations on a theme.  Whether it’s transactions like course selection and tuition payments, MarCom needs like campus tours and micro sites for alums, or student life needs like safety escorts, the needs are the same.  Only the implementations differ.  What differentiates the Kurogo platform is that it’s open source, and campuses are actively contributing to it.  A great example of this is was Matt Willmore’s announcement of Notre Dame’s contribution of several open-source modules to the Kurogo community (see my post on Student/Citizen Development with the Kurogo Platform below).  This is a welcome gift to the community, and should be encouraged.  By the way, Notre Dame was a wonderful host…thanks Matt!

With that, here’s my list of posts.  I hope you find them useful.

Monday, April 27

Tuesday, April 28


Student/Citizen Development with the Kurogo Platform


  • Matt Willmore, Mobile App Program Manager, University of Notre Dame
  • Nikita Shamdasani, UNC Chapel Hill
  • Kyle Koser, University of Notre Dame
  • Zach Waterson, University of Notre Dame

This presentation showcases some of the work that has been done by students with the Kurogo platform.


  • Collaboration between 3 students and ITS at UNC
  • Student-driven intiative created through collaboration with ITS
  • Mobile app team has continued to work with Modo Labs for actual app dev, University departments and other campus stakeholders.

Step 1 – Gather Feedback

  • Student priorities listed in focus groups, a kind of “dream list”:  account services, news, maps, notifications, social media, sports, building info, student info and resources

Step 2 – Research other university apps

  • Developed sense of feasibility by using other apps for comparison:  Harvard, MIT, Ohio State, Stanford, Notre Dame, Princeton, Georgetown
  • I looked for partners, specifically a developer who could explain things in layman’s terms without being condescending, a designer and a project manager

Step 3 – Development of App

  • Student government special project
  • Independent project with Carolina Creates
  • Collaboration between CarolinaGO team and ITS

Our Choice to Use Kurogo

  • Free Android iPhone versions
  • Future development opportunities
  • Sustainable trajectory

Step 4 – App Release

  • Soft launch in October of 2014
  • Modules:  emergency alerts, calendar, dining, athletics, campus map, video, news, virtual pit


  • Maintaining consistency in app framework:  differences in backends among departments
  • Integrating student priorities:  having services like Sakai on app was important in focus groups, but do not always have capability to integrate
  • Expanding app while keeping UX simple:  expanding offerings important, but have to figure out best categorization for main page of app

Past Semester’s Tasks

  • Lots of collaboration with interested groups

Notre Dame Past, Present, Future

  • Missing 4 modules:  weather, webcams, OIT, lab finder
  • What to do?  Grab some students!
  • Told students:  focus 100% of your efforts on learning Kurogo, it’s all PHP (we don’t know PHP).  OK, learn PHP first, then learn Kurogo.
  • Worked with another student to develop Mobile Printing – student-coded, OIT-owned
  • Based on Print@CU (github.com/saarons/printatcu)



  • Keep momentum going
  • Other needs, including & beyond Kurogo
  • Need to strike a balance between student dev and university needs
  • Governance!
  • Working on a strategy to connect departments needing development with students wanting to develop
  • Projects would be hosted in “civilian” AWS account that ND owns and provisions resources for
  • Participating departments agree that OIT is NOT responsible for issues
  • High-reward, low-risk modules
  • What happens when students leave?  Document, break work into scheduled segments (semesters/terms/etc.), don’t forget the high-reward/low-risk balance.
  • Departmental Publisher modules (commencement, admissions, etc.)
  • We build it and give it to the customer, or give them the keys from the start
  • Continued engagement & consulting to ensure info is accurate, timely and makes the best use of the template

We LOVE Open Source and Kurogo!

  • We’re open sourcing all student-developed Kurogo modules:  weather, webcams, transit (ride request & shuttle schedules), transit backend.
  • MIT license (do whatever you want with it)
  • Available via Modo Labs package channel


Kurogo Publisher Power!

Presenter:  Eric Kim, VP User Experience, Modo Labs, @huafi

What is Publisher?

  • Browser based page assembly tool
  • gives non-devs an easy fast way to assemble mobile-optimized content and nav
  • Power to publish instantly to multiple mobile platforms, including native iOS and Android apps without IT deployments or app-store re-submissions.

Publisher Templates

  • Newspaper:  navigation-centric, best for highly visual presentation of 3-6 primary plush optional 2-6 secondary nav items.  Layout for both portrait and landscape.
  • Big Idea:  nav-centric, works best for highly visual presentation of 1 primary call to action.
  • Card Navigation:  content as nav, mix curated and feed-based content, content in cards in various sizes, card can contain either curated content of image/text.  Can be highly designed / customized with lots of formatting options.
  • List Navigation:  nav-centric, highly visual for 4+ nav items, nav items shown in a vertical list.  Can do interesting layer effects with this template.
  • Spectra:  nav-centric, highly visual presentation of 4+ nav items, touch-appropriate design that not everyone likes.
  • Springboard:  nav-centric, space-efficient, 8+ nav items, shown in grid of images (often icons) with text labels, below hero section and/or text intro
  • Content:  meat-and-potatoes of most publisher module, text-based content, optional hero image, sidebar, and top or bottom-block.
  • Longform:  completely modular approach, build a page from any combo of content blocks, 11 content block types (hero, heading, text/HTML, pull quote, image, HD image, video, Twitter, FB, feature box, links block, many more coming – table, gallery, map, lead generation, carousel feeds, social, etc.), optional inset (“responsive margins”) = greater flexibility in layout and function.


  • Showed a site-within-a-site that contained pages with most every element available within each template.

You’ve Got the Power

  • Combine curated + dynamic content + navigation
  • Assemble app-type experiences
  • Delegate admin roles
  • Iterate quickly
  • Create timely destinations to keep users coming back
  • Experiment, prototype, combine
  • Have fun!


Marketing and Promotion of Your Campus Mobile App


  • Beth Pfefferle, Modo Labs
  • Morag Charlton, Modo Labs

Modules that Drive Traffic

  • Top 3:  courses/catalog, transit, registrar
  • Other popular modules:  admissions, alumni, campus ID cards, computer lab usage, NSO, parking, Student Rec, tours, webcams

Who’s the Customer?  Primarily current students.

Involve Users Early and Often

Monitor your Analytics:  downloads, sources, devices, time on app, etc.

Before Launch

Build anticipation:  get users to test and become advocates; make pre-announcements and generate press; create a mobile brand, make it fun with a logo design contest to get students involved.

Launch & Post-Launch Activities

  • Create consistent message across multiple channels
  • Recruit MarCom
  • Sustain momentum
  • Create a QR code for easy download
  • Email campaigns:  targeted announcements with direct links to download page, create a drip campaign over time
  • Create a landing page, post on student portal
  • Posters, banners, displays
  • Information cards
  • Print and digital advertising (shuttle bus, electronic info boards)
  • Live events, i.e. orientation, tours, etc.
  • Press releases, news articles
  • Social Media, wherever they congregate
  • Videos:  make it funny, creative and thought-provoking.  They don’t have to be expensive to create.  Use student videographers with blooper reel or do it yourself.
  • Mobile ambassadors:  train staff and volunteers, res life / orientation folk.
  • Timing:  target users early with new student information so using your app becomes routine.
  • Keep them coming back by adding special event modules!
  • Instantly add modules for any event or activity.
  • Involve student orgs:  academic advising/support, career advising, career fairs, campus recruiting, Greek Life, intl groups, student orgs & fairs, orientations for new students, tours, etc.
  • Push notifications provide drastically higher engagement and retention.  Examples:  weather alerts, emergency updates, event promotion, good luck on finals, etc.
  • Send push notifications to certain groups of users, like new students or alumni, using app Editions.
  • Announce new modules and app features, share onboarding info strategically after initial download.


Created a Commencement module with publisher

  • Module is already in the system
  • A list of templates is provided
  • Newspaper template has 2 sections:  hero and call-to-action
  • Added an image, link to map, plus location on the map
  • Published to production immediately – took all of 5 minutes
  • Messaging system can be used to notify users of new module availability – an additional 30 seconds



Future Roadmap


  • Marty Johnson, Georgetown University
  • Brett Bendickson, Application Architect, University of Arizona

Brett Bendickson

  • UA public land grant institution
  • Founded in 1885
  • 40,072 students
  • UA implementation forces selection of user role via additions.
  • Lots of students want to access university gmail account through the mobile app, NOT the built-in email client (this is an interesting observation, in my opinion).
  • Usage by module:  map, transit, people, catalog
  • Usage by user:  87,191 sessions (about 3,000/day), 21,302 users (about 760/day)
  • In 2013 there were 18,600 iOS downloads.  Downloads spike for us in January and during orientation.
  • Android downloads are at about 22,000 and show a similar download pattern
  • AZ Mobile 3.2 current (Modo Labs 2.2); native tablet support; added library module
  • AZ Mobile 3.3 (Modo 2.3); upgrade to 2.3; add rec center module that was developed internally.  This will work with the resources module.
  • Portal: focus is currently on desktop view, but also working on a mobile view.  We’re doing a lot of custom development within Modo Labs, consuming PeopleSoft web services.
  • We’re excited about the direct messaging to the device, i.e. “you just got an ‘A’ in History”

QUESTION:  What software are you using in the rec center to feed the resources module?

BRETT:  I don’t know, but can find out for you.

Marty Johnson

  • Georgetown
  • GUMobile (Modo Labs)
  • We love additions!  3 campuses, 7 editions
  • NextGUTS (DoubleMap).
  • GAAP Weekend
  • We use a welcome screen by default
  • Our biggest challenge is getting accurate data from facilities and dining services.
  • LiveSafe (safe ride)
  • Laundry Alert (Quantifize)
  • NSO / OWN-IT (DoubleDutch)
  • Experiments:  CampusQuad; Usher (MicroStrategy); Radius Networks
  • Usher:  is a mobile “go card” that does multi-factor authentication (picture and QR code).  It can also be used to log into other applications.  We are hoping to add door opening functionality in the near future.
  • Working with Radius Networks to help students and parents find the admissions office from the parking lot.
  • Core Tenets:  our users are distracted, focused activities (short, sweet, and spontaneous), low barrier to entry (gradual engagement), personalized (location and time aware), adaptable.
  • Looking forward:  we believe we will have a portfolio of apps (safety, transportation, specific events, academic tasks, auth/identification); framework versus dedicated apps; app promotion

Question:  have you used Kurogo in a kiosk mode?

Both:  no.

Question:  Marty, who is Georgetown piloting this with?

Marty:  new students.

Marty:  We can imagine using iBeacons in the dorms for providing updates, i.e. water is out, emergency shelter in place notifications, etc.

Continuing Adventures in Higher Ed & Technology