Bespoke Mobile Application Development: Facilitating Transition of Foundation Students to Higher Education

Bespoke Mobile Application Development: Facilitating Transition of Foundation Students to Higher Education

Nevan Bermingham (Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland) and Mark Prendergast (Trinity College Dublin, Ireland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3422-8.ch057
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Smartphone usage by students has increased rapidly over the last number of years, and it is expected that the utilisation of mobile applications in educational environments will continue to increase. This chapter focuses on a bespoke mobile application which aims to facilitate the transition of Foundation students to Higher Education in an Irish setting. Foundation students comprise of Access and International Students participating on pre-degree foundation courses. These students experience a major life change in making this transition and it is important that efforts are made to ensure a successful adjustment experience. Research suggests that mobile technologies can play a central role in this endeavour by offering support and access to particular information needs. This chapter will detail the design and development of a bespoke mobile application with such a purpose in mind and will also describe how the app was field tested with a cohort of incoming Foundation students in an Irish third level institute.
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Foundation Students – comprising International and Access students - have particular needs when they transition to higher education, and International Students in particular experience a range of personal, social and cultural difficulties with this transition (Smith & Khawaja, 2011). In an Irish context, third-level or tertiary level education refers to all education after second-level, encompassing higher education in universities and colleges (Department of Education and Science, 2004). In the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) the authors sought to investigate the benefits of providing Foundation Students with a bespoke mobile application tailored to their particular information needs. A bespoke mobile application is one with functionality that is designed to provide a solution to specific needs or a particular problem (Salz & Moranz, 2013). Development of such a mobile application would generally require substantial financial investment and technological expertise. However, this chapter will focus on a low cost model that requires minimal computer know-how to produce and deploy a mobile application in a matter of weeks. The authors will show how such bespoke mobile apps can be developed using freely available online Integrated Development Environments which facilitate deployment on the dominant Apple (iPhones, iPads) and Android mobile platforms. This chapter with detail the app’s design, development and deployment along with its evaluation with a cohort of Foundation students in the DIT.

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