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Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

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Marshall U App Focuses on Community Development

This+screen+greets+users+after+opening+the+Marshall+U+app
Courtesy of Marshall U App
This screen greets users after opening the Marshall U app

A new multi-use app, Marshall U, focuses on connecting students both to the tools they need as students, as well as other students through a number of social features.

“We needed an app. One that provided a way for students to engage, not just an app that provided links or websites, but a true way for students to get instant feedback or questions answered or connect to campus instantly,” said Marcie Simms, vice president for Intercultural and Student Affairs. 

Simms was inspired to begin work on the app after leaving her previous institution, Shawnee State University, which had a very similar app that allowed students to engage with campus life.

Marshall U currently hosts a number of features, with others still in development. Among these are links (called tiles) to useful websites for students, such as MyMU, and a student feed that anyone with a Marshall email can post to as well as the ability to add friends and send private messages. 

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“We will be implementing channels, similar to Discord channels, and different forums to where your organization that you’re a part of- you can join that channel and chat with people within your organization, or just based on similar interests,” said David Miller, communications coordinator and developer for the Marshall U app. 

Miller also sees these channels as an opportunity for students to find others they connect with, and is something unique to the college environment.

According to Simms, the app was released early into its development so that Week of Welcome could act as an opportunity to show off the capabilities to incoming students. Because of this, new features are actively being developed, including an upcoming feature that provides push notifications for important events on campus, such as the due dates for tuition.

Another quality-of-life feature is being developed in collaboration with Blackboard, and it will allow students to see their schedule, grades and class announcements as soon as they open the app. 

Additionally, the app’s developers have had to consider moderation tools while working on the social aspects of the app. 

“Thankfully with this, you can’t be anonymous. It’s tied directly to your Marshall email,” Miller said. He also mentioned that once the channel feature is released, student leaders will be able to act as their own moderators within the channels. The app also includes a report feature that automatically removes posts from the student feed if it is reported more than five times.

While only people with a Marshall email are able to see and post on the student feed, the app does include an option for guests that allows parents or prospective students to use the app in a limited capacity. 

Simms also mentioned that since the app’s initial launch during WoW Week, the app has reached over 1500 users, which has surpassed her initial goal of 1000 users in the first week after launch.

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