Leveraging Mobile as a Strategic Platform to Achieve Institutional Goals


  • Navneet Johal, Research Analyst, Education Technology,

The Institutional Imperative for Mobile

  • Why must higher education re-think mobile?
  • On my way here, my driver and everyone around me was on their devices!  It was a little scary, but highlighted the fact that they’re everywhere and growing
  • 80% of Americans are using the Internet via mobile, and most are using apps on their devices.
  • Students often have 6-8 devices
  • Drivers:  proliferation; student mobile consumption; rising cost of higher education; remaining relevant as an institution – it’s a survival strategy.
  • Barriers:  Lack of institutional funding; device & platform complexity; lack of in-house expertise to manage mobile strategies

Cross-Industry mobile usage

  • Retail banking; healthcare; government; industry
  • Police departments use mobile apps to increase efficiency – Palm Springs department is using an app to help complete paperwork in-the-field.
  • Retail banking:  Citibank allows transfers and deposits via their app, i.e. “Snapshot”
  • Retail industry:  improve sales, increase loyalty; shop-on-the-go; retailers are analyzing mobile data to understand mobile behaviors, and predict customer purchasing behavior.

State of the union:  higher education and mobile

  • What does this mean for higher education?
  • Helps increase efficiency and productivity
  • Drive differentiation
  • Improves value and increases loyalty

Best practices

  • 93% of 16-24 year olds have access to a smartphone
  • It makes sense to claim a mobile footprint where students are already spending a lot of their time!
  • Institutions need to understand the range of mobile options available
  • 1st wave: basic use – general communications, no personalization, high adoption rates, low student engagement
  • 2nd wave: some mobile-enabled instruction and administration, some personalization, high adoption rates, low student engagement
  • 3rd wave: innovative use, mobilizing teaching, learning and research; leveraged fro marketing; native apps for smartphones and tablets; customizable and integrated; high adoption and engagement. Once mobile is used for teaching and learning, that’s when we’re going to start seeing really innovative use.
  • Build or buy?  Depends, but integration with existing enterprise applications is crucial!
  • Partnering with Experts:  must provide high quality, pre-defined functionality; focuses on ease of use; saves time; assumes end-to-end responsibility for the mobile project; contributes new ideas to mobile strategies; views the mobile project as a journey and not a destination.


  • Make mobile strategic to achieving institutional goals:  think of mobile use cases first, then search for the apps; research exactly what students want on mobile in order to increase satisfaction; plan for the cost of a mobile initiative – build or buy
  • Get ahead of the mobile curve:  showcase mobile success in-house to build buy-in from stakeholders; showcase mobile success to the outside world towards new student recruitment; question vendors on their investment in services.


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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