Iâ€™ve become quite enamored with the BlackBerry and its email and PIM functions. While Sybase wonâ€™t open up their email system to me (I donâ€™t blame them, to be honest), Iâ€™ve been manually inputting meetings and schedules into my BlackBerry. The ability to get a reminder of a meeting or task deadline is invaluable in the fast-paced and busy work day.
So it got me thinking â€“ why not extend the convenience and usefulness of schedule management and push email to the university? I know many students are just as busy, if not busier than full-time workers. I already get my university email pushed to my BlackBerry, but I’d like to connect my calendar up as well. Waterloo is the hometown of a leading-edge university (University of Waterloo) and a pioneer in the wireless email business, Research in Motion. What better place for a trail deployment of a university BES for students? Hereâ€™s what Iâ€™d like to see.
The university implements a BES that manages the existing email infrastructure. Furthermore, course calendars would be synchronized and professors and teaching assistants can add assignment due dates to these calendars directly.
Now I havenâ€™t quite nailed down how the project would be run â€“ whether all students would have access to it or if only a subset of them would â€“ there is an existing program at the Minota Hagey residence that gives students smartphones, replacing their existing land-line phone and boosting wireless usage and personal management, so recruiting a subset of the population can definitely work. The program would be far simpler to implement for a smaller group, so for trial purposes, that is probably the best solution.
What are the benefits? Letâ€™s look at it from all parties.
- The University of Waterloo â€“ the university has been on the forefront of several initiatives, some good, some not so good. PDEng, the Velocity residence, and the co-op program itself are some leading edge programs that the university has undertaken. In order to maintain its image of being a school of innovation at the forefront of technology, a student email/calendar system would be one more step towards this goal.
- Research in Motion/Microsoft â€“ I mentioned a BES for students because I use a BlackBerry, but in reality it could be Microsoft Exchange and Windows Mobile devices as well, or any other wireless email + PIM service. This builds a large student population that is familiar with the product and service, and if theyâ€™re like me and find it useful, will continue to be users down the road, upon graduating from university.
- Wireless carriers â€“ Data service is more lucrative for wireless carriers and is one part of the market that they have all been targeting to offset declining voice revenues. Just imagine entire universities filled with BlackBerry/Windows Mobile toting students. The revenue growth would be significant, even if some sort of cheaper student plan is introduced for the market. Again, if these students find the service useful, they will continue to use it after graduation, adding a whole new revenue group for the wireless carriers.
- And finally the students â€“ Although the above-mentioned parties all stand to gain from this program, the student benefit is the end goal of the program. After all, this is something Iâ€™m conjuring up â€“ clearly itâ€™s to my benefit. 🙂 A studentâ€™s life can be extremely busy at university. Assignment after assignment are due and examinations seem to pop up without warning. The ability to have calendars with these events pre-populated pushed to a wireless device that is with the user at all times allows reminders and constant contact.
Hopefully something like what I’ve written about here will help students get more organized, plan their free time more effectively, and allow them to do better at their academic and extracurricular activities. I know in the past month with the BlackBerry, Iâ€™ve become more organized and event reminders have helped me at least appear more intelligent and on the ball to co-workers. Well worth the investment in my opinion.