Westmont College has released a free application for the iPhone and iPod touch that provides easily accessible information about the college and campus events. By clicking on the app, users can read the latest news stories and find calendars for chapel, athletics, academics, and arts and lectures. There is also a campus map, a faculty/staff directory, menus for the dining commons and study, and emergency information.

For students, the most notable feature is the ability to track the college’s shuttles. The app will show them the location of every GPS-enabled van as well as their own.

“If there’s more than one active shuttle, it tells you what type of shuttle it is and every five seconds it redraws the shuttle’s location,” said Reed Sheard, vice president of college advancement and chief information officer. “There’s even a greeting from President Gayle D. Beebe and a link for prospective students to request more information about the college.”

Eventually, the college plans to integrate the application design to other hand-held mobile devices.

“We decided to focus on the iPhone and iPod Touch platform because the use of these devices has been growing on campus,” Sheard said. In less than a year, the number of iPhones on the campus network jumped from 42 to 570, and it continues to grow. “It’s by far the No. 1 device students have at the college, so it was our first choice to support,” he said.

In October, Westmont became one of the first all 802.11n wireless campuses in the nation.

“We are striving to be a leader in technology in higher education, which we think is critical to the mission of the college,” Sheard said. He predicts that Internet-enabled mobile devices soon will be the most common way to access information on the Web.

“There’s a lot going on at the college and a lot of information in many different places,” Sheard said. “The app brings it all together in one easy-to-use interface.”

“We’re constantly discussing the evolving role of wireless and technology innovation with educators,” said Reed Pangborn, sales center vice president of government and education for AT&T. “Our new relationship with Westmont is a great example of how, together, we’re pioneering mobile learning strategies to enhance both campus and classroom environments, while also investing in our students, the future work force of America, with the very latest in digital and wireless technology.”

Westmont hired Susan Kare, a digital graphic designer, to create the icons for the iPhone app. Kare, who began her career creating many of the interface elements for the Apple Macintosh in the 1980s, has designed the virtual gift icons for Facebook since 2007.

The college will continue to add new features and will periodically update the Westmont application, which is free and available for download to the iPhone or iPod Touch through the App Store.

— Scott Craig is the media relations manager for Westmont College.