UBC’s mobile mojo

What platform are you reading me on–iPhone, tablet, laptop, or good old paper? We’ve never had so many choices.

Yet the BIG trend is unstoppably mobile.  And coming soon to a campus near you—the mobile-enabled university!


It’s OK to be skeptical. While universities took naturally to the Internet (no wonder, as the now venerable web was incubated here), mobile is seen as an awkward immigrant, even an unwelcome squatter. Despite all of our smarts and smartphones, universities have remained unmoved by mobile.

Mobile is not just the Internet on wheels, nor a lifetime of distracting apps. It’s about a streaming, connected, capable presence.  It’s about the real world coming alive with exciting new possibilities, and our home planet shrinking dramatically (yet again). It is the future of work, play—and yes, learning.

Go into any UBC classroom and you’ll see active experimentation underway, almost always without design or consent. Go into any UBC hallway, food outlet, dorm, landscape or virtual space and you’ll see that experimentation continuing, nonstop.  And step into the shoes of any UBC student and you’ll see it is essential to the value they seek.

Knowledge and culture are real-time, global phenomena, and mobile devices are designed for continuous telepresence.  Students pursuing speed-of-thought access to people and ideas beyond our campus can only augment classroom and informal learning experiences for everyone.

Using mobile, we can also make the rich resources, places, people, ideas and opportunities on our own campuses more navigable and more social.

Given that most prospective students now choose their future campus with their mobile device, that same navigability and sociability, accessed remotely, will attract the best minds in the world to come here.

As our students get their degrees, why do they need to leave UBC behind?

They should be able to benefit from, participate in, and contribute to UBC’s excellence wherever they go, and whatever they do, via telepresence.

The future is closer with the recent launch of the m.ubc.ca integrated mobile service, spearheaded by Phil Chatterton, Director of Digital Media Technologies for UBC IT.

It’s a small first step.  And with your help, UBC could become the coolest, most outstanding digital-mobile-social campus anywhere!  In the truest spirit of our “Living Lab” mantra, we’re seeking to engage every available source of creativity to make it happen.

So help us imagine what UBC’s future mobile experience should be.  Look for a campus-wide contest and prizes this fall for everyone to share their idea as a story, brainstorm it in a design studio, or code it in a hackathon.

Whatever your inspiration, get your UBC mobile mojo working!

Dr. David Vogt is Director of Innovation Strategy with UBC’s Media and Graphics Interdisciplinary Centre (MAGIC) and Executive Director of the Mobile Muse Network.  MAGIC is contributing to application development, interface design and public engagement for UBC IT’s launch of the new m.ubc.ca mobile platform. 

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UBC Reports | Vol. 58 | No. 9 | Aug. 23, 2012

UBC goes mobile

UBC goes mobile

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UBC goes mobile

UBC’s new mobile web app will help turn new students into seasoned campus pros. Available September in beta format, the universal app comes loaded with essentials: wayfinding maps, transit info, news, events, videos—even library access.

Next semester, students can access course info, and budding Steve Jobs can enter a $5,000 competition to design new features. The mobile platform, which replaces UBC’s first-generation offering, functions on all mobile devices and can be tailored to either the Vancouver or Okanagan campuses.

The new tool is one key part of making UBC more mobile friendly. Concurrent work is being done on the university’s main web site, using “responsive-design” technology, to make it readable on any device.

Find the new UBC web app at m.ubc.ca

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