July 16, 2015
Two of Ball State’s mobile apps were recently honored for their innovative designs. Achievements rewards Pell Grant recipients for using programs and services to keep them on track to earning a bachelor’s degree in four years. Users of The Traveler can chronicle their experiences as they visit other locales.
Two Ball State University mobile apps to help students achieve both in and out of the classroom have earned major awards in recent weeks.
Campus Technology honored Ball State with two Innovator Awards. The Achievements app was recognized in the student systems and services category while The Traveler was honored in the education futurist category.
The Traveler also was named the large organization winner in the PACT Wayfinding App Challenge as a result of creating a mobile tour device for use in Philadelphia as well as at the University of Pennsylvania.
Improving student success
The Achievements app assists Pell Grant recipients to persist in their studies and graduate in four years by rewarding students as they engage with programs and services that promote success in college.
Pell Grants are the federal government's largest direct grant to students with low family incomes. A recent report found that Pell Grant recipients are more likely than others to have "risk" characteristics — such as delaying postsecondary enrollment — that suggest statistically greater chances of dropping out of college.
Achievements was developed by a Ball State team led by Kay Bales, vice president for student affairs and dean of students, who said the app was successful in its first year by engaging about 400 Pell Grants recipients.
“Early research shows that users earned more credit hours in this past academic year and had higher grade point averages than nonusers,” she said. “One thing we know to be certain: Students look at their phone countless times a day. This app puts campus resources at their fingertips, and we have incentivized students to take advantage of important resources.”
Areas across campus offer Achievements — or activities — for students to complete. Participants include University College, Recreation Services, Student Life, Multicultural Center, Late Nite and Career Center.
Bales said Pell recipients from 2013-14 may continue using Achievements next year and the university plans to launch the next round of recruitment of Pell freshmen and sophomores in the fall.
The Traveler: Ultimate tour guide
The Traveler app was developed by a Ball State team led by Kyle Parker, senior software engineer for developing technologies. The app is the product of a collaboration between Ball State’s Information Technology Services and College of Architecture and Planning.
The Traveler, developed for tablet computers and smartphones running Android, uses GPS technology and Google Maps to keep track of a user’s route and features a number of embedded programs that can be used to chronicle a trip. A user can easily take photos, record audio or video clips, jot notes or use a stylus to sketch a building or landscape. The app keeps track of where each of those actions takes place and drops a marker to pinpoint them on a map.
For the PACT Wayfinding App Challenge, the app covers more than 700 points of interests in Philadelphia. Visitors are able to capture and record their entire experience while exploring and enjoying the cultural, historical and educational richness of the city and campus.