North Central College Mobile—the College’s first mobile app—has taken flight on Apple and Android smartphones and tablets. It’s time to celebrate; so where’s the cake?
Before I take off the gloves, let me explain why this app is cool. It’s simple and user-friendly—possibly due to its simplicity—and includes intuitive, handy tools for exploring college resources. Calendars, daily schedules, access to North Central’s social media outlets: it’s all here. One of my favorite features is the ‘Lab Stats’ tool, which tells the user how many computers are available in each lab around campus. Also, this is a fantastic app for freshmen, with Google Maps integration allowing students to easily find buildings around campus. The app has all this and more. It’s a fine app, indeed.
My only grievance with the app is that it doesn’t include access to Merlin, Blackboard and Webmail, which would be natural and highly useful extensions. However, this complaint may change in the coming months, as Christopher Jones, director of web communications in the Office of Marketing and Communications, assured me that the app will evolve to include features students recommend.
They did the app right. It’s useful; it’s sleek; it’s malleable—so why haven’t I pulled out the party hats and red Solo cups?
Because it’s not innovative; it’s just catching up.
Celebrating the launch of a college mobile app in 2014 is like celebrating a wonderful, loyal, 10-year-old dog learning to “go” in the backyard. It’s great—hats off to that dog, good boy!—but it should’ve happened a lot sooner. We should pat the dog on its head; give it a Scooby Snack, but a party? I don’t think so. This dog needs some new tricks.
North Central College, in many ways, is innovative. We have superb faculty who are willing to give extra attention to students who ask (a rarer luxury than we realize). We have an outstanding study abroad program. We have a new science center on the way (is that still happening?). We have a state-of-the-art athletic and residence facility, Res/Rec.
But, in an equal number of ways, we’re just catching up. Our science center is outdated. Our residence halls are out of room. We’re working to fix both of these problems, but why did we wait? Is it a lack of foresight?
One possibility is that we’ve learned too much from the community around us. Naperville is thriving, but it’s old—very old. Our administration is fighting to knock down historic buildings to build the new science center, and they’re encountering resistance. Naperville was built on its rich history, so it’s understandably reluctant to let it go, but this stubbornness will someday leave the city coughing in the dust as the rest of the world speeds away.
Nearly every college—yes, even Wheaton—has a mobile app, and now we have it, too. We should be happy with this, but unsatisfied. For too long, North Central College has been a dinosaur—ancient and unchanging. Forget that. We need to shock the other institutions. We need jetpacks and floating cities. We need to do the unprecedented. We need to sprint ahead; otherwise, we’ll always be catching up.