MoBull Messenger is out, and MoBull Plus will soon be in. The new service will allow subscribers to check everything from Blackboard to the weather, all on their cell phone – and all for free.
“We are adding more functionality and integration for the classroom and making it so much better,” said Michele Joel, marketing manager for USF Information Technologies. “It’s now going to be called ‘MoBull Plus’ since you’ll get to view Blackboard, class announcements, organizational information and more on your cell phone in real-time,” Joel said.
IT has formed a partnership with an outside company called Rave Wireless, which provided the equipment needed for the upgrade of the system.
Students can log on to www.usf.edu/mobullplus and register for the service.In addition to the services listed, students using MoBull Plus will be able to check computer lab availability, the USF directory, USF WebMail, the status of school closings and sports and fashion updates.
IT hopes the new system will allow more interaction between students.
“We really want to focus on building the community for the students,” Joel said.
If USF is closed for an approaching hurricane or a professor cancels class, students using MoBull Plus can access Blackboard to view the announcement instantly.
“So if you’re driving in your car and you’re heading to class, you could just flip open your phone and turn right around,” Joel said.
With the PC availability service, students can check the campus’s computer labs for an open computer from their phones.
“So if I’m driving to school and I really need a computer, the system allows you to look at the computer labs on campus to see how many computers are open in each lab,” Joel said. “That way, you know which lab to go to first.”
MoBull Plus also accommodates professors. According to Joel, they can take polls in class, send messages to students, take attendance and interact with students without disturbing a lecture.
USF IT recruited a few organizations to pilot MoBull Plus. Diana Antolinez of the Latin American Student Association (LASA) and Ferdian Jap, president of Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), used the system to create communication channels within their organizations.
“Through this, we can send out announcements, meeting reminders or any event changes for our club as a text message to each member’s cell phone,” Joel said.
Even with the new features, USF IT plans to continue enhancing MoBull Plus, with two features under consideration for implementation in the future.
“The Guardian” is a planned safety feature through which students can contact immediate help if needed.
“They would be able to press a panic button if they felt unsafe in a club, and if they don’t deactivate it, police would arrive,” Joel said.
The department is also considering a shuttle tracker.
“We need the approval of parking services,” Joel said. “When that approval is granted, you will be able to open your cell phone and view the actual bus route on your cell phone, and you could see how far the bus is from where you are in real-time.”
However, the proposed feature would require students to possess a GPS phone to use the function.
There is no charge for the use of MoBull Plus, but users may be charged for text messages and Internet service through their individual phone plan.
However, the USF wireless store is negotiating discounts for students.
“There’s going to be better discounts (at USF Wireless) than anywhere else,” Joel said. “The plans are going to be cheaper. It’s going to be very competitive; plus, you’re going to be able to ask questions about MoBull Plus and different things, and get different accessories.”
MoBull Plus will be launched on March 27. Students can register at www.usf.edu/mobullplus.