Higher Ed Is All Over Mobile

Recent Reports Support Mobile’s Importance to Higher Ed

Two recent reports have been released that continue the push for the importance of the mobile web. These two reports both point to the growing importance of the mobile web but target two different audiences.

The State of Mobile Web in Higher Ed 2012

HigherEdExpert’s The State of Mobile Web in Higher Ed 2012 surveyed 281 professionals across 267 institutions. I would recommend reading through the survey, but some great high level details as reported on CollegeWebEditor.com include:

The Mobile Web is on the agenda in higher ed

  • 59% (37% in 2011) of the survey respondents provide a solution (mobile website, accessible website, native mobile device applications, etc.), targeting and serving owners of mobile devices. They have implemented this solution within the last year in 72% of the cases.
  • 74% of the survey respondents plan to implement a solution in the future, in less than a year in 59% of the cases.
Higher Ed Is All Over Mobile

Higher Ed Is All Over Mobile

Target audiences for mobile solutions: students first, faculty & staff second

  • 88% (89% in 2011) of the survey respondents identify current students as a target audience for their existing mobile solution, 73% for prospective students.
  • 90% (86% in 2011) of the survey respondents planning a solution will target prospective students.
  • More than 70% of the survey respondents with an existing solution serve faculty and staff.

On-the-go Goals: Supporting campus life, marketing & branding for now, but recruiting students is next

  • 83% (81% in 2011) of the existing or planned mobile solutions have the goal of supporting campus life by providing a calendar of events, bus schedules or maps among others.
  • More than half of the surveyed institutions identify marketing and branding as a goal for their mobile web solution.
  • 75% of the institutions planning a mobile solution want to use it for student recruitment. Only 46% of the existing solutions identify recruitment as a goal.

Mobile strategy: Responsive Web Design is gaining some steam

  • 56% of the survey respondents with an existing solution have chosen to serve their mobile web users through a dedicated mobile website, 26% with native applications for specific devices.
  • 15% of the survey respondents have already adopted the responsive web design approach despite the fact that it is a fairly new practice in higher ed.

More but still few Mobile Web budgets

  • 73% of the solutions were developed by staff/faculty, 20% by a higher ed vendor.
  • 65% (75% in 2011) of the survey respondents with a mobile solution report no budget.

The Mobile Browsing Behaviors and Expectations of College-Bound High School Students

Noel-Levitz continues their e-expectations studies with one focused specifically on the mobile expectations of college-bound high school students. They surveyed 2,300 students regarding their use of mobile devices. Once again we recommend downloading the complete report for yourself, but a couple of high level takeaways:

  • 52% surveyed reported viewing school’s website on a mobile device.
  • Social media use through mobile devices is almost given for individuals who use social media (see chart below) so make your social media worthwhile.
  • Focus on optimizing for the mobile site instead of mobile apps.
  • Keep your mobile site in sync with your main site.
Mobile social media use among college-bound high school students

Mobile social media use among college-bound high school students


The obvious takeaway is that if you aren’t already doing mobile it’s something schools are looking into or thinking about. When you go into a web project you also have to be very cautious about how it will be displayed to end users on mobile devices. Mobile solutions are especially important for current and future students. Mobile is something that for the most part people expect but aren’t supporting with budget or much dedicated  time.

As a vendor and product owner, one way I interpret this data is that higher ed marketers are expecting the tools to get better at handling mobile without extra time or money required. I’m happy to say is that we are already well down this path with mobile versions easily available on all of our interactive maps. Higher ed’s audiences are already fairly mobile savvy and this trend will only continue. Hopefully you are already all over this trend like we are.

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