CarolinaGO keeps students engaged on the go
Carolina students are always on the go. With their preferred drink or snack in hand, Tar Heels can always be found weaving in and out of crowded walking paths to get to their next destination.
In October of 2014, a few undergraduate students sought to connect students with each other through an app called CarolinaGO. With support from the Information Technology Services department at UNC, the app has grown to serve over 10,000 people in the community.
The information provided in this mobile app is divided into four main sections: Connect, Move, Eat and Engage. By arranging different types of Tar Heel "must knows" within a simple platform, students can easily access dining options, fitness class schedules, a map of campus and bus routes. The app has been dubbed the official UNC-Chapel Hill mobile app.
The app is run entirely by students who are passionate about carrying out its aim to serve the Carolina student body and community. To ensure that the app continues to evolve as a relevant source of information for students, an advisory board made up of students was created. Natalie Castellano, a first-year graduate student studying information science, serves on the board.
“This app is built for students by students,” said Castellano. "I think it's useful because first of all, it has a ton of information that is useful to students, and it's all consolidated into one app."
Councill Leak, a graduate student also in the information sciences department, serves as the project manager of the app. Although he was not involved in the original team that founded the app, he now monitors its growth and decides how it can best be improved.
In 2016, CarolinaGO was awarded Best Design at the Kurogo Higher Ed Mobile Conference (Leak did divulge that the app didn’t always look as polished as it does now).
“At first it kind of just looked like an iPhone home screen with a bunch of icons about what different modules there were, and it kind of got overloaded with that,” Leak said. “Now, today, we have this new layout where it’s divided into five tabs.”
Leak said that the features tab of CarolinaGO is essential to the growth of the app. Whenever there is an event that could be of interest to students, it is publicized through the app. It is constantly updated with new events, making this tab quite popular among users. Leak further claimed that it will be expanded in the future.
“From the feedback we’ve gotten, once you’ve figured out your schedule and how to get to your building and when the dining halls are open, there’s less things for you to do,” Leak said. “In order to keep people coming back to the app, we want to have more of this curated type of content.”
In order to ensure that the app stays relevant, the advisory board is always looking for new input. Another member of the board, sophomore Mary Gibeau, said that she had a few ideas about how to improve the app's platform.
“I definitely have been pushing performance improvements because I know that some of the pages load kind of slowly, so we are definitely working on that,” said Gibeau. “Something that I want is similar to the find the printer [feature], to find a water fountain or a water refill station.”
With a team of students committed to the growth and longevity of this app, CarolinaGO is bound to have a little something for everyone.
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