What’s the Point?


  • Melissa Harts, Dean of Institutional Technology, Pasco-Hernando State College
  • Mark Tennyson is PHSC project lead


PHSC is new to mobile, we launched last August, started collecting data in October.  We have five campuses with about 16,000 students.  We are a community college system in Florida, and we recently started offering Baccalaureate degrees.  Mobile has helped transform our processes.  Our online program is growing at a double-digit rate, with students in every state in the United States.


  • How do we use the mobile app to create a sense of community in this changing environment?
  • CHANGES:  community > State college; adding bachelor’s degrees; new campus; changing deans of institutional tech (me!); new systems app dev; upcoming retirement of president; increase of online courses

Why Mobile?  Why modo?

  • Two-pronged decision:  going mobile was partly “pre-decided” by a management committee.
  • Our matrix selection criteria:  met needs of focus group, admin panel, analytics to measure success, interoperable with current systems, admin portal with different permission roles, end-user support, mobile web included, and of course price.
  • There was always a certain amount of doubt in my mind about whether they would be able to support our needs.
  • 80% of colleges and university respondents use or are planning to use mobile apps for teaching.

Vision:  Initial Goals

  • One dimensional goal:  build a mobile app!

Vision:  Current

  • Functional on all devices
  • Wanted to reflect our transformation from 2 to 4 year college and growth, community (HS to alumni), excellence, campus safety, and more.


  • Infrastructure
  • Resources:  all hands on deck!
  • Timing:  this growth phase of our campuses was the best time for us do this.
  • Awareness:  students couldn’t find an app for our campus (because it didn’t exist!)
  • Perception:

Mobile app project

  • Project schedule:  rapid development of 16-17 weeks
  • Implementation Strategy (pilot release, refinements)
  • Official launch was August 2014.  We embedded the launch into existing communication channels, NOT a standalone app.
  • Took feedback from a variety of channels, including a module and surveys.

Feedback:  What’s the Point?

  • One student’s feedback asked this question
  • App has to engage the student

Data Drill Down:  Measuring Success

  • Users:  Accessed by 20% of core user community
  • Top Modules:  mail, cal, eLearning, Directory, Courses, News
  • Keyword searches:  WISE (SIS), myPHSC (Canvas/LMS); people, events, academic dates, courses; financial related queries; graduation, grades
  • Average Time Users Stay:  full college web site:  4:00 minutes; mobile site:  2:05 minutes

Where do we go from here?

  • Integration of SIS
  • Think of new ways to engage our students
  • Think of new ways to engage our staff, faculty, alumni, applicants, 1st time students
  • Create a community of Learners
  • Show this is a valuable tool to strengthen the community

Looking Forward:  Concerns

  • Keep  users interested
  • Keep pace with needs
  • Awareness of college needs
  • Leadership:  support and keep the mobile app viable
  • New IT staffing needs


  • How do we use the mobile app to create a sense of community in this changing environment?
  • Embrace transformation
  • Learn from your community
  • Immerse yourself into their business
  • Transform your mindset and think about their role and needs
  • Be willing to accept criticism and grow from it
  • Develop a strategy that is inclusive of a NEEDS assessment, not a WANTS assessment



By Paul Schantz

CSUN Director of Web & Technology Services, Student Affairs. husband, father, gamer, part time aviator, fitness enthusiast, Apple fan, and iguana wrangler.

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