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Milligan embraces new technology for mobile devices

By 
Elizabethton Star

Image Contributed. Milligan College recently welcomed representatives from Google to begin mapping the interior of many campus buildings. The school will be the first college east of Nashville to be featured on Google’s Indoor Maps. Students and other visitors can use the service on a traditional PC or Mac, as well as a mobile version for Android, iPhone or iPad. Presently, the service is only available to Android users, but Milligan officials expect Google to complete the project by July. Incoming freshmen will receive a presentation on the mobile app during orientation in August.

When students return to the Milligan College campus this fall, they will be able to utilize several new programs for their mobile devices. Over the last several months, the school has been working to complete the new applications for use by students, faculty, administrators and other guests on the campus.

Shannon Castillo, Milligan’s Director of Marketing and Community Outreach, said the school recently welcomed a group of five representatives from Google to begin mapping the interiors of campus buildings. Google Indoor Maps is a relatively new application of the online search engine that provides detailed floor plans of airports, shopping centers and other frequently visited locations across the United States.

Castillo explained, “As many local residents may have noticed recently, Google has been traveling across the Tri-Cities to map the local highways for their Street View application. That service has been so successful that Google made the decision to offer a similar program for the interior of buildings.”

Google has contacted institutions of higher learning across the U.S. to gain permission to create indoor mapping of their campus buildings. Castillo said the first school in Tennessee to have their campus buildings mapped was Columbia State Community College in Columbia, Tenn. Milligan is the first college east of Nashville to participate in Google Indoor Mapping. Earlier this month, representatives from Google spent three days on the Milligan campus to create indoor maps of the school. Castillo added, however, the service will not include dormitories in order to protect the privacy of their students.

Milligan officials are eagerly anticipating the debut of Google Indoor Mapping. Castillo commented, “This app will be a tremendously useful tool for students and others on the campus. For the very first time, a brand new student to the Milligan campus will be able to see what the buildings look like by using a virtual tour of the hallways. Before they ever step into their first class, they can plot how to get to the classroom.”

Google is expected to have Milligan’s indoor mapping completed by some time in July. Students arriving later this year will be able to use the program by the time classes begin for the fall semester. Google Indoor Mapping is available for use on a traditional PC or Mac. Mobile users of Android, iPad and iPhones will also be able to download a version of the program, as well.

In addition to Google Indoor Mapping, Milligan is also preparing to introduce several new mobile apps for this fall. Teresa Carter, Associate Professor of Computer Information Systems, said students in Milligan’s advanced computer information class have partnered with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop the school’s first mobile application. The Milligan Map Application is a student-developed program that will provide students, faculty, administrators, trustees and other guests with the ability to download a program that shows a map of the full campus.

Carter added, “Everything really came together with Google coming to Milligan. This entire project has bloomed over the last few weeks, leading to more exciting developments.”

From the development of the mobile map application, the school is expanding their presence on smartphones, Android devices and iPads and iPhones. Milligan Senior Dale Giblin is one of the students who has been working on the school’s venture into the world of mobile apps. He noted that the project is the second of its kind in Tennessee. “Vanderbilt was the first college in Tennessee to develop a student-driven mobile app,” Giblin said. “We’re very excited to be the first college in East Tennessee to create this type of program.”

In addition to the mobile map application, Giblin said Milligan will have an August debut of what he calls “a one-stop place for campus information.” He commented that the app will link mobile devices to the school’s website and will offer news, event information, access to a faculty directory and links to Facebook and other social networking sites.

Milligan’s P.H. Welshimer Library has also been in the process of developing a program that provides mobile users with access to library resources. Library Services Director Gary Daught said the school has been working to create an app that provides students with access to library resources on a mobile device. In late 2011, Daught said the library debuted MC Search. The online search engine provides students with electronic access to catalogs, books, journals, online database and other sources of information.

Daught added, “The library won’t have an app, per se, but we are in the process of developing a program that utilizes responsive web design.” In the last decade, many internet users have been utilizing mobile devices, such as smart phones, to access the web. In many cases, however, larger web pages can be difficult to load on a phone.

Jack Weinbender is a Milligan Library Assistant. He has been working on the creation the responsive web design for Milligan’s library website. “Ten years ago, almost everyone used a desktop platform of some type. Today, when someone uses a mobile device, the size of a website has to be scaled down. Responsive website design allows the website to conform to whatever kind of device is being used,” he said.

Weinbender also added that responsive design provided the library with the best approach to creating the new website in terms of cost and ease of use for visitors.

Within the next year, Milligan officials are anticipating that the school will have the capability to allow mobile users to access a learning management system. “We anticipate that in the next six to eight months, students will be able to use a tablet, iPhone or iPad to get class assignments, send their work to instructors and obtain other information about their course load,” Carter said. “Milligan is striving to stay on the cutting edge of technology while meeting the needs of our students.”

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MILLIGAN UNIVERSITY is a Christian liberal arts university in Northeast Tennessee whose vision is to change lives and shape culture through a commitment to servant leadership. The university offers more than 100 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in a variety of fields, along with graduate and adult degree completion programs.  To learn more about Milligan University, visit www.milligan.edu or call 800-262-8337.

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