An innovative mobile ‘super app’ created by a student-led team of Victoria University technologists and designers was given Australia’s highest honour for design and innovation  at the peak industry Good Design Awards.

The Victoria University App received a prestigious Gold Accolade in the Digital Design category for outstanding design and innovation.

The app allows students to access timetables, course content, grades, and find their way around campus via interactive maps – all with a swipe or tap of their phone.

It also acts as a digital Student ID, meaning students can borrow library items, mark off attendance at exams, or book extra-curricular activities without the need for a physical student card.

The VU App complements VU’s New Way To Do Uni featuring its Australian-first block model of teaching and learning, and an outstanding student experience.

Making the decision to build the app completely in-house has paid off immensely for VU with a massive student uptake and overwhelmingly positive feedback.

About 80% of VU’s students now use the VU App with other universities eyeing it to ‘white label’ (re-brand) for their own institutions.

Evolution of the 'super app'

Digital Learning Environments Associate Director Michael Sturmey said the Connected Learning team was initially called on to consolidate six single-function apps for VU students into a single app, but they soon realised they could go further and create a ‘super app’.

By adding GPS-linked maps to the app, for example, students can see precisely where they need to be at any given time and how to get there when they check their timetables. And adding real-time weather reports to the app tells them if they need to bring an umbrella.

The team completed the project in an extremely fast turnaround of less than eight months, working only part-time.

VU student Kati Elizabeth, VU App product designer and product manager, said extensive consultation and research indicated student-centered features were the priority.

“We aimed first to solve common problems for Uni students that we knew existing vendor apps were not addressing. Including students in our design process allowed us to build something innovative and exciting.

"We’ve had an overwhelming response from VU students that the VU App features are incredibly empowering and make studying and Uni life so much easier.

"To be recognised by the Good Design Awards with the Gold Accolade is an incredible achievement for our team and further validates our end product and methods.”

The Good Design Awards’ Jury praised the VU App saying: “combining functionality from several apps into one is no mean feat; it's good to see a lot of common-use cases centralised in this way, with logical jump-off points to other sites and systems within the in-app browser. Approachable, refined visual design. Great to see maps and in-building maps with room numbers.”

The VU App’s talented design team was also recognised earlier this month with a peak Platinum honour at the 2019 LearnX Awards for the App’s impact on students and staff.

The Good Design Awards, which celebrate Australia’s best new products and services in architectural design, engineering, fashion, and digital and communication design, attracted a record number of nearly 700 submissions this year.

The Awards ceremony will be held at a black-tie event in Sydney on 11 July.

View the VU App on the Australian Good Design Awards’ website.   

Kati Elizabeth, VU App Product Manager, is available for comment.

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