As email fades in popularity, Arizona State turns to its mobile app

To meet its students on the platforms they most enjoy, ASU is promoting its mobile app instead of blasting its students with emails.
(Getty Images)

Part of fostering student engagement means making information easily accessible for the entire campus community, a technology official from Arizona State University told a conference audience on Wednesday.

Speaking at Amazon Web Services’ Public Sector Summit in Washington D.C., ASU’s deputy chief information officer, Chris Richardson, said one such example can be found in the ASU Mobile App, a digital engagement platform centered around student needs.

“We built it for the student, by the student,” Richardson said.

For young adults in college, being able to seamlessly use mobile technology is important to connect with events and peers on campus, he said, as well as staying informed about classes, grades and even the weather.


“The students want everything at their fingertips to make decisions,” he said.

Before the development of the app, ASU students were being bombarded with emails from the university, but email had become an outdated tool for students, Richardson explained.

“There was chaos of all this information,” Richardson said. “If the way we’re trying to reach them is through email and they’re not using it, then that’s a problem.”

To address this issue, ASU launched its mobile app for students in 2018.

“We wanted to make sure they were engaged and finding unique ways to connect,” Richardson said.


Now, he said, it has become the university’s “most important” way to connect with the campus community, having now garnered more than 91,000 unique downloads.

The app has features for students to become more engaged on campus and stay up-to-date with important information. It includes a content management system for notifications that brings in information from all over campus, seamless access to the university’s learning management systems, class and campus event schedules, real-time transit maps and weather.

“We wanted to make sure they were engaged and finding unique ways to connect,” Richardson said. “[The app] is designed to make them feel like we know who they are.”

Richardson said that ASU plans to continue adding more features to the app, as well as improving its interface in the university’s effort to foster positive student engagement. ASU has also developed a similar app for its young alumni network to drive engagement after graduation.

Betsy Foresman

Written by Betsy Foresman

Betsy Foresman was an education reporter for EdScoop from 2018 through early 2021, where she wrote about the virtues and challenges of innovative technology solutions used in higher education and K-12 spaces. Foresman also covered local government IT for StateScoop, on occasion. Foresman graduated from Texas Christian University in 2018 — go Frogs! — with a BA in journalism and psychology. During her senior year, she worked as an intern at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., and moved back to the capital after completing her degree because, like Shrek, she feels most at home in the swamp. Foresman previously worked at Scoop News Group as an editorial fellow.

Latest Podcasts