UWE
Photo: UWE

By Liam Corcoran

UWE is stepping gradually further into the digital era. As part of this transition, they are introducing more apps for students in order to enrich the university experience. This year UWESU have teamed up with Oohlala, an app that will provide a new platform for students, societies, sports and networks to interact.

The service will be integrated into their website, allowing for messages to be easily sent and received and events announced and publicised.

The free app features a campus map, a staff directory, the latest news and events, help contact numbers, the Student Union’s Hub Radio, images and videos about life at UWE Bristol, information about the UWE’s social media channels and the chance to feedback experience of functionality. Students can log in to access to students’ personal my UWE account, a library search, a mobile version of the Blackboard learning environment and more.

UWEmobile was launched last year to provide a more user-friendly method of accessing your myUWE information from a smart phone. UWE recently ran a press release earlier this month about myUWE, and are clearly working towards gaining a higher profile to increase general use of the app and the mobile website. However it’s questionable why they have only just started promoting the app, considering that it has been available for the last year now.

Should the Students’ Union be spending time and effort on introducing new apps? Well, the short answer, yes. According to Ofcom research earlier this year, 50% of 16-24-year-olds have a smart phone, which is the highest for all the age ranges. 63% have also downloaded an app.

This change has been a long time coming though. Back in 2010, Wired magazine published an article titled: “The web is dead. Long live the internet.” More and more people are avoiding web browsers such as Safari, Mozilla and Google Chrome and using apps to get to information quicker instead. This is because apps are “less about searching and more about getting.”

Mostly, we use apps for gaming, social media and music. But the app universe is huge and diverse, covering a multitude of topics and genres. So what apps, as university students, would be interesting and useful?

Well, for starters, don’t limit your phone email app to just your personal account. As students, a lot of emails are sent to our UWE account. Some students either miss these completely or receive them late. Adding the extra account to your phone is an easy way of keeping on top of all the emails from multiple accounts.

Another platform that students should be involved with is Twitter. Now, you may be wondering why you should put time and effort into a second social media site, when Facebook is the norm.

The key is not to think of it as social media as such. As university students, we should all be expanding our horizons, making industry contacts and preparing for the future. Twitter, and the very good app it provides, allows just that. Through it, you can interact with people from the industry you study within and begin making connections with professionals.

One of the trickiest things about university can be keeping on top of all the paperwork. There is just so much of it. That is where Evernote comes in. With Evernote, you can create new notes on any platform and it is automatically saved to your account. From here, you can access it anywhere. Evernote also allows you to use folders to keep only relevant notes in certain sections. Great if you are writing multiple essays at once or for keeping on top of four different modules.

Lectures at university can be extremely frustrating. You try jotting down everything on the lecture slides and think you have it all. But then the lecturer starts saying something more interesting and you can’t keep up.

Soundcloud eliminates that problem. It is essentially a voice recorder but it is unique in the fact you can upload the files to the cloud. From here, access and download them anywhere meaning it won’t take up space on your phone or kill your battery by forcing you to listen back to it on your device.

We all know how frustrating it can be to carry precious documents around on a memory stick, and emailing them to yourself just fills up your inbox and you lose track of the newest version. To get round this, try Dropbox. It provided you with some online cloud space. Just drop your document in, access it anywhere. This can come in really handy when moving an essay from one computer to the next.

As students, we all have different interests and like different news. Rather than sorting through tons of different websites for your particular interests, try Flipboard. It allows you to set your own news agenda and follow topics that are just of interest to you. It will search a multitude of news websites and provide you with the best news whenever you check in.

However, that is limited to news organisations. If you are looking for something more academia based then try TED. They regularly hold conferences and debates on topical issues in certain areas. These videos go straight onto their app and allow you to expand your learning beyond your lectures and lecturers.

Finally, the biggest problem that all students face: procrastination. Every student does it. We have a list we need to get through but it soon gets abandoned. Wunderlist provides the perfect platform to get round this. It allows you to set a number of tasks and finish dates. If you run over the deadline it lets you know or when you finish a task, the sight of it disappearing is a real boast. If you put in a task as soon as you think of, you won’t forget it when it comes to the crunch.

The UWE Mobile App and website was developed by IT Services at UWE Bristol in partnership with Blackboard Inc. The UWE Bristol team coordinated the design and content and Blackboard Inc. designed the framework. The UWE Mobile App has also been designed to be viewed on iPhone®, iPod® touch and AndroidTM. A website version is available for Blackberry and other smartphones at http://mobile.uwe.ac.uk. You can download the app and sign up with your UWE address for free.