Abilene Christian University is the first of likely many universities to incorporate the iPhone into campus life; while this video is a dramatization, it does give us a picture of what future iPhone applications could do for the classroom and for everyday student life. Imagine a world where the iPhone really is a student's "campus lifeline"--the video is worth a look. (Incidentally, ACU has an impressive information commons in the library; I attended a presentation from their director last year and made a few notes.)
Speaking of libraries, I wrote a bit recently about a new iPhone application which allows users to search the library catalog, place holds, and view summaries/book jackets. The code will eventually be available to other libraries so that they too can build iPhone applications for their local catalogs.
A post today on The Chronicle's Wired Campus blog discusses a new iPhone application created by Georgia Tech students which provides an interface to several campus services. The application gives students iPhone-friendly access to campus email, a campus map, a bus schedule, and the course management system. One particularly nifty feature is that the application also includes a real-time computer availability map to see when a machine is available in their information commons. This is seriously cool.
Incidentally a librarian had suggested that the students incorporate the computer availability map into their application. He has a very good point about the importance of working together to build applications:
It is easy for us (as librarians) to complain that we don’t have money or staff to develop cool things—but sometimes that’s ok, because maybe we can partner with those who are (doing cool things) and get our materials and resources included in their work. Instead of investing our time in “a library app” we can attach ourselves to an already popular and successful app and gain a wider audience.I couldn't agree more. So as IT departments (or groups of students) look to building iPhone applications, consider working with libraries and other campus departments to incorporate important student resources into your applications. Those applications will be far more valuable to students, and certainly we librarians will thank you for it.