Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar) has launched a mobile app called Mobile VCU, with students as the primary user-audience for the pilot phase.

Mobile VCUThe app is free for students, faculty and staff of VCU and VCUarts Qatar, and is available on iOS and Android devices.

The app, which is based on a similar mobile app used by students at the university’s home campus in Richmond, Virginia, allows students to access a wide variety of information on everything from student clubs, to events, COVID-19 updates, academic calendar, course schedules, equipment booking and so much more.

Students can also use the app to order books from the Art and Design Library, reserve space and equipment in the Innovative Media Studios or Fabrication Lab, book a consultation with the Materials Library, apply for positions in the university’s Student Employment Program, contact the IT Helpdesk, or contact the Office of Personal Development and Counselling Services.

Innovative engagement

According to Dr Katherine Wildman, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs at VCUarts Qatar, they created the app because they are looking for innovative ways to engage with students.

We know we all use our cellphones, so we are reaching students in their virtual world. The launch was given greater impetus by the COVID-19 pandemic and the remote learning that resulted from the lockdown.

The soft launch took place late last year and Dr Wildman said they used the time since then to make the app more efficient and user-friendly.

We are focused on providing students with one easy location to go for information and questions. It was designed to make the lives of our students easier as they engage with the breadth of opportunities from the safety of their home.

Mobile VCU

The app was designed by the university’s Technology Services team, in conjunction with the home campus, and the Student Affairs and Communications departments in Qatar. It operates on the same platform being used by the campus in Richmond. It has the same look and feel, but with a VCUarts Qatar option.

They suggested and incorporated strategies that would maximise student engagement, said Sarah Faheem, VCUarts Qatar’s Interim Director of Student Life and Engagement.

We held numerous student focus group discussions to identify which features would best be used by students, and we also designed a social media campaign to introduce the app to the student body once it was ready.

Chief Technology Officer Mirza Baig said their mobile device has become the easiest portal for students, serving as a bridge into the physical world. She said that with the interactive experiences of this mobile app, they are giving students, faculty and staff quick access to the kinds of information they are looking for.

Mobile VCU can be downloaded from Apple App Store and Google Play.

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