Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) is one of the first technical schools in the state of Wisconsin to launch a mobile app. Brian Carlson, Manager of Teaching and Learning Technology, took a few minutes out of his busy winter schedule to talk to us about MATC's decision to go mobile and what they have in store for the future of MATC 2 Go.
Q: Why did MATC decide to go mobile?
A: It's all about the students. Annually, MATC educates over 50,000 students within more than 200 programs, spread across 4 campuses in the Milwaukee area. The focus of these programs is to provide our students with the education and skills that they need to be successful in their careers. Our students are unique in the fact that most of them are working full time jobs, and taking a full course load, so we needed to provide a mobile solution that would enable them to stay connected to their coursework and everything happening on campus whether they're traveling between campuses, at work, home, or anywhere else.
Q: Why did you decide to go with Blackboard Mobile?
A: The solution we had previously reviewed just didn’t have the customization and overall functionality we needed in order to provide our community with a rich mobile experience. We decided to go with Blackboard Mobile™ because Blackboard enables us to customize the entire app with the MATC brand, and provides us with the flexibility to incorporate all of the modules we need; including Blackboard Mobile Learn™. The sky is the limit, as far as the functionality that we can provide in the future, and that is really important us.
Q: How do you think MATC 2 Go will enhance your non-traditional students' experience?
A: Integrating Blackboard Mobile Learn was a huge priority for us. Giving students the ability to access their coursework on the go enables them to tailor their school schedule around the rest of their priorities in life. By providing them with 24/7 access to their email, courses, school contacts, etc., we are giving them all of the tools they need to be successful in and out of the classroom, and really just making their everyday lives a little bit less hectic. It's like a one-stop-shop for all of their MATC needs.
Q: How did you decide what features to include in the first version of your app?
A: Our number one focus for the first phase of MATC 2 Go was to give students access to the things they truly need, and will use on a daily basis – Blackboard Mobile Learn, Email and Maps, for example. In addition to providing them with those fundamental tools, we also saw MATC 2 Go as an opportunity to pay tribute to our Centennial Anniversary and showcase photos of MATC over the past century - taking our community on a journey through the evolution of the college. Lastly, the Feedback module was a very important piece of our initial launch in order to provide our users with the opportunity to share their ideas for future updates to MATC 2 Go. All of these aspects show how MATC 2 Go has developed into more than a map and contact information; it's truly grown into a new channel by which our students can connect with our campus, their coursework, and peers, no matter where they may be.
Q: What do you have in store for the future of MATC 2 Go?
A: We have some ideas for Phase 2, possibly integrating our student information system and course catalog, but it really depends on the feedback we get from our community. We have a wonderful IT program at MATC, so we are looking into how our students can utilize the Blackboard Mobile SDK to develop custom modules to integrate into MATC 2 Go. The sky is the limit as far as the functionality we can explore. Ultimately we plan for MATC 2 Go to provide users with an all-encompassing campus experience, in and out of the classroom.
MATC 2 go is now live in the Apple® App Store for the iPhone® and iPod touch®, with an Android™ and BlackBerry® version coming soon. Phase 1 of MATC 2 go includes 10 core modules: Directory, Maps, Videos, News, 100 Years, Blackboard Mobile Learn, E-Mail, Newspaper, Public Safety and Feedback.
Download MATC 2 go.