Lehigh has a new campus-wide communications tool.
The Lehigh University Mobile App replaces LehighU Live. Its release sets the stage for a rollout of new features that are designed to help the Lehigh community better navigate the campus and keep informed.
The new app, a key information source that serves a separate purpose from the HawkWatch personal safety app, is the result of a multi-month collaboration between Library and Technology Services (LTS) and University Communications and Public Affairs. It was designed to integrate expanding student services of Ellucian, a higher-education software company. LTS has launched the app on both Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store.
Consolidated within the Lehigh University Mobile App is the ability to track the campus buses, peruse the campus map and directory, explore Lehigh Dining services, and access emergency contact information, school news, an events calendar and social media links.
Erica Gluszynski, a senior database analyst for the enterprise systems department of LTS, emphasizes that merging the mobile app, which originally was custom-made, with Ellucian’s software will allow the university community to reap many benefits as Ellucian rolls out more features.
“What’s nice about this new app is that it integrates directly with Banner,” Gluszynski says. “As Ellucian develops new functionality within the mobile app, it will eventually become available in [the Lehigh] app. So in the future, you are going to be able to view grades or see your course schedule through the app.”
Additionally, Ellucian will keep up with app maintenance, a huge upside to integration.
“They are going to take care of the servers, as well as the application upgrades,” Gluszynski says. “This is going to give us the opportunity to fully take advantage of the features the Ellucian app has to offer, enabling us with the ability to add more relevant content and options for users.”
Ashley Ryan, manager of web and mobile services in LTS, says that LTS hopes to introduce new features within the next year. While the specifics of those features are still up in the air, she says, she is confident that, through student interaction, the team can refine the app to directly appeal to the needs of Lehigh students.
“I would want to meet with Student Senate [to] get a feel for what students want to see in the app before saying you’ll see this or that by 2020, and to make sure we’re putting our efforts in the right place,” Ryan says.
While the needs of students are the priority in updating the app, Ryan says that it will benefit many more people, such as prospective students, faculty and staff.
“Our hope is that if a student is interested in Lehigh, they will download the app. It’s a really easy way to see news and events—to discover what’s going on on campus,” Ryan says. “They’re looking at a really active campus that’s doing a lot of really cool stuff. Faculty, staff...I think they’re just as interested in news and events on campus as students are.”
The Lehigh University Mobile App is the third existing Lehigh University app, after the HawkWatch and the Lehigh University Tour app. Ryan emphasizes the deliberate separation of the new app and HawkWatch, which includes a number of options that can help in an emergency situation and can put users in direct contact with LUPD dispatchers.
“We didn’t want to clog up the emergency app with news and all this other stuff...which lessens the value and ease of use of an emergency app,” Ryan says.
Gluszynski is optimistic about the implications of using Ellucian’s software for the mobile app.
“To me the most important part is that it integrates directly with Banner,” Gluszynski said. “You will really start seeing the benefits once we start adding all of those enhancements.”
Story by Tabitha Nowak ’23