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Mobile Devices & Apps

BSU to Use Mobile App for Campus Safety

Boise State University announced earlier this month that it will begin using a smartphone app to augment its existing campus safety measures. The app, “Rave Guardian,” allows users to set safety timers, which alert emergency contacts and campus safety services if they expire or if the user manually calls for help. At that time, profile information (potentially including a photo and medical needs of the student) is instantly provided to responders as they locate the student and ensure their safety. Along the way, designated friends and family can check in on the location and status of the student. Users can also submit anonymous tips to police and campus security through an SMS-like interface, with support for pictures as well as text.


Photo Credit: 123rf.com

The app is described as a “mobile personalized blue light phone on steroids,” giving students and security services a level of interconnectivity not seen yet. It’s a natural fit for the Boise area, too: neighborhoodscout.com says the chance of being a victim of violent crime in Boise is about 1 in 337, which is higher than usual for the US. In comparison, the chance of being a victim of violent crime in Bothell is about 1 in 1406, which is well below average. Combined with traditional campus safety and security resources, Rave Guardian might drastically improve the well-being of both students and staff on campus.

For more info here.

Anonymity of Students in Social Media

With the ability to be anonymous on social media, students feel more confident in releasing their hate and negativity without realizing its repercussions.

Yik Yak is an app that allows students, in colleges and universities only, to anonymously post to everyone within a 10-mile radius; it is similar to Twitter, only there is no need of an account. It has rapidly become successful among many universities around the world.

Casey Fabris discusses the issue of Yik Yak and how it has developed into cyberbullying- including sexual insults towards female professors. Many students use the app to release their frustration towards their classes, professors, other students, and university life in general. However, because the app allows everyone in the area to view what others are posting, professors are able to see students’ rants against them as well.

(Photo credit: Shutterstock and Twitter)

Professors have admitted to being emotionally affected to at least a slight degree from reading various posts. Colleges are trying to find more constructive outlets for professor evaluations. eXplorance believes that its new service, Bluepulse will be a more positive version of Yik Yak since it will have both students and instructors involved. It is uncertain, however, whether this will stop students from posting hateful comments on Yik Yak.

Another similar service that Sabrina Huyett, a teaching assistant at Birmingham Young University, uses is DropThought. She believes that “giving students an outlet where they can constructively criticize might prevent them from airing grievances negatively on platforms like Yik Yak.” Huyett admits that the larger the classes, the more likely there will be negative criticisms.

David Parry, an associate professor at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, explains that even if new platforms are developed for student’s feedback, it will not stop them from using Yik Yak. What needs to be done, instead of trying to move students away from a specific social media platform, is for colleges to teach students how to use social media responsibly.

Fabris, Casey. “Anonymous Feedback, Fine. Insults? Not on These Platforms.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. N.p., 04 Feb. 2015. Web. 04 Mar. 2015.

What You Need to Know About Yik Yak, an App Causing Trouble on Campuses

A new mobile app is sweeping college campuses but not for good reasons.

The app is known as Yik Yak, an anonymous virtual bulletin board which gives you the ability to post your thoughts for others to read.  But postings from college students aren’t what you’d expect.

Postings range from inappropriate comments regarding sex, racism, sexism, and escalate to threats of violence as well as public safety threats. In a few instances college buildings were actually closed or campuses put on high alert due to anonymous threats made on this app. A sophomore was actually arrested in connection with a post about a possible campus shooting.

This app also opens up a new avenue for cyber-bullying—bullies are taking advantage of the anonymity that comes with using this app to attack people.

That being said, “Not all colleges are treating Yik Yak as a threat. Mr. Buffington reported that several had contacted his company to express interest in harnessing the app to learn more about what their students really think.”

For more information please read:


Teaching with Google Glass

In an article on Campus Technology, they take a look at a professors who are finding an interesting use for Google Glass.

After having discussions with similar “digital explorers,” Robert Hernandez, a professor of journalism at the University of Southern California, decided to create a course that centers on having students design applications for wearable devices. He is hoping that the class will reexamine the shape of an article and how you tell a story.

At Northeastern University, associate professors Rupal Patel and Stephen S. Intille co-teach a course that has students create apps that will “help people make behavioral changes” using Google Glasses donated by Google. One group of students created a prototype app that is designed to promote social development among people with autism.

William J. Ward, a professor of social media at Syracuse University, has his students create apps for Google Glass using social media to determine which of their ideas is getting the most social conversation.

Hernandez notes that it’s not possible to know if Google Glass will be the next big thing, or if it will just be an interesting concept that never takes off. Nonetheless, he is certain change is coming.

Simplifying the Design Process- One Canva at a Time

To all designers and creators: have you ever opened Photoshop, PowerPoint, Word, or even social media sites and asked yourself now what? How about those who fear the Adobe Suite or even Microsoft Office?

Canva, a design app, simplifies creating posters, flyers, presentations, business cards, Facebook covers- you name it. With a selection of professional, pre-designed graphics and stock photos to choose from, you can finish a project within minutes. Be aware that most stock photos have Canva watermarks or you can pay $1 to omit it.

Most of the design process is drag-and-drop. Choose what background, layout, and text you want in your project, then fill in the blanks. Customizing their templates is no problem either. Click on an object to move it, change the color, edit the text, or delete it.

Designs and graphics are great to embellish presentations- especially “PowerPoint-esque” ones. They catch audience’s attention and intrigue listeners. Be aware though, too much text and over the top graphics can just as easily detract your audience. Learn your medium before giving a presentation.

Below are examples of posters we made in less than five minutes:

UWB Learning Tech LT Mission

What can you create on Canva?