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November 5, 2009

UW first educational institution to offer mobile tool for BlackBerry devices

News and Information

The UW will be the first educational institution to provide campus information on BlackBerry hand-held devices. The UW’s new m.UW BlackBerry application, similar to the m.UW app launched two months ago for the iPhone, offers course catalogs, campus directories, maps, news, photos and sports scores in a format optimized for that device.

“This new platform allows us to easily reach our students, faculty and staff around the clock and deliver information whenever and wherever they want it, which increasingly is on mobile devices like the BlackBerry and iPhone,” said David Morton, UW Technology’s director of mobile communications. “As a modern, global university, the UW is committed to embracing mobile communications and is pleased to be the launch institution for this new initiative.”

The new BlackBerry-specific tool is part of the UW’s ongoing strategy to deliver information to constituents who are on the go. The tool is available online or through the company’s app store.

UW developed the application in collaboration with campus technology supplier Blackboard Inc., which announced the availability of a native application for BlackBerry devices for Mobile Central, the company’s suite of applications for mobile education, on Nov. 4.

The announcements by the UW and Blackboard were made at the Educause 2009 annual conference in Denver, where several thousand members of the higher education community have gathered at the industry’s premier information technology event. Blackboard’s mobile application for BlackBerry gives users of those devices enhanced access to Mobile Central, which was previously optimized for iPhones and iPod Touch devices. Mobile Central has been offered by Blackboard since it acquired San Francisco-based Terriblyclever Design, with which the UW was already working on an iPhone app, in July.

“Institutions are looking for new ways to engage and support their communities, and we’re building a mobile platform that helps them do that,” said Michael Chasen, president of Blackboard. “Increasingly, we hope to help institutions change expectations by enabling mobile services and interactions that represent the full range of the education and campus experience.”

Members of the UW community who own other mobile devices or Web-enabled cell phones can access services in a mobile-optimized format at http://m.uw.edu. The UW will continue to expand its mobile offerings as part of the university’s Strategic Mobile Initiative.