Washburn transitions to Guide app

Charles Rankin

Beginning this semester, students have a new app to use to manage their college experience. Gone are the days of the Ellucian Go mobile app as Washburn is transitioning into using a new system, Guide.

This change is ultimately designed to make things simple for students and faculty, as well as to help students succeed.

“From a student success standpoint, students were telling us that MyWashburn was not very user friendly and the Ellucian Go app was not very user friendly,” said Alan Bearman, dean of libraries and the center for student success and retention.

Bearman said that the phrase that student’s used most often was that “it’s not intuitive.” Not only was it not user friendly, but the system also didn’t necessarily help the students in the way that they needed or wanted.

“The other thing we heard over and over again was that it doesn’t do anything to help me graduate,” Bearman said. “There was a lot of emphasis on the personal, which if you think about it, it makes sense… We want our apps to be personalized.”

The university went through a process to look for a better system. Faculty, staff and even a few students went through it together and found that EAB’s Student Success Collaborative was to be the best fit for Washburn.

“When we went out and started thinking about what to do, how to promote student success, everywhere we turned people said SSC is a great collaborative,” Bearman said.

One of the students who was a part of the process to find the app was Erasmo Nunez, junior mass media major. He was brought on to the team by former WSGA President Alexis Simmons.

“She trusted me to be there and really advocated for students… and for what they need,” Nunez said.

The contract for the app and for EAB is for five years and will cost an average of $197,500 annually, according to a Board of Regents agenda from September of 2017. Nunez said that Simmons understood that this was a big endeavor for the university.

“[Simmons] wanted to make sure that it would be done well and would be done consciously with students in mind,” Nunez said.

While there are many different aspects to Guide, Bearman said that they wanted to focus on a few particular aspects initially.

“One of the most powerful things about it is communication tools,” Bearman said.

He said that students would tell them all the time that they get so many emails from the university they can never tell which ones are actually relevant or important to them and which ones aren’t. The Guide app has sections like to-dos, events and resources that students can use to figure out important things about their college experience. The app even allows a user to click on a resource and be shown where to find it on a map.

“Now you can find buildings and offices on campus… all through the app,” Bearman said.

According to Bearman, one of the biggest hang-ups for students at Washburn are holds.

“The [app] will tell you there’s a hold and it will tell you how to resolve it,” Bearman said.

Another feature of the app allows students to schedule appointments with faculty for things such as advising- another communication aspect. Nunez agrees that it is a very strong asset of it. He said that, as much as professors care for individual students at Washburn, they still have other students that they’re advising and teaching, as well as assignments they have to grade, so using a system like this allows that communication to help connect them better.

“It lets students and faculty have better rapport,” Nunez said. “Especially for first year students, they’re not used to the type of professional relationships that you can develop with your professors… a healthy relationship with a professor or a teacher in college doesn’t look the same as in high school.”

Bearman said that other features within the app, such as detailed class schedules and the ability to upload that schedule from the app to your own calendar, are available now. You can also download your personal calendars to the app. Easier enrollment will be rolling out in the future as Washburn continues on with this transition. 

The app is available in both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store by searching Guide – College Simplified. Bearman encourages students to download it. Anyone that has feedback or issues with the app can email [email protected]. There will also be meetings scheduled later in the semester for students to come in and offer feedback beginning after Labor Day.