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Project Officer Heena Ramchandani on the new King’s Student App

Courtesy of Roar

Editor-in-Chief Ishaan Rahman interviews Heena Ramchandani, Project Officer for King’s new student app, on what new features it will offer to students and how it could help navigate a tumultuous semester.

Roar: What are some new features of the King’s student app?

Ramchandani: “Some features that I would say are beneficial to students are the single-sign on authentication, meaning once you sign onto the app you have access to all of your King’s platforms: your timetable, calendar, email, Keats, student services online.

“There’s also a pages feature, which is for all of the different services at King’s. So IT help, King’s Food, King’s Sport; they all have a page on the app that students can follow to get notifications and updates from. We’ll also have a main page where alerts from the university can go out as push notifications. 

“There’s an area for student discounts and advanced section for students [to] find out all of the events happening around campus.”

R: How do you think the app might help students mitigate the impact of lecturer strikes and other disruption occurring across London?

Ra: “We have a master account, which is the central King’s account, that will post essential teaching information. So all strike information and how that affects university students will all be sent out through the master account. They will be able to find out the days of the strike, whether universities are still operating as usual or there’s any disruption to that.”

R: Will that include notifications from specific classes and lecturers?

Ra: “The notifications I spoke about previously apply to all students, information from specific tutors or modules is still something that we have to look into. But we are trialing a messaging feature between staff to students so, hopefully…in the future the tutor would be able to inform [their] students directly”

R: A lot of students at King’s commute from around London or its surrounding neighbourhoods. How do you think the app can connect better students socially?

Ra: “Because the first phase of the app does not enable all of the possible features, we are, in phase two, looking to open a social environment within the app. This would be a functionality called ‘group’, where students could connect through sports activities through KCLSU or a seminar group. As I said, we will also be trying staff to student messaging. We are trying to implement as many social functions as we can […] We’re really hoping this app can integrate all of the different lives at King’s.”

R: What influenced the creation of this app? Did you talk with students and staff to determine what features would go into it?

Ra: “We actually did have a previous King’s app, which was decommissioned in early 2020, just because it was not fit for purpose. We needed something a lot more sleek and modern and fit the current higher education structure […] And then the pandemic came around and the need for an app heightened even more. We needed something that was simpler instead of a student having to log onto multiple platforms, multiple times a day […] That’s why we’ve incorporated single-sign on so once you’re in the app you can access all of the platforms at ease.

“We did have a lot of student input during the process of making [the app]. We held a pilot as well where we invited 50 students to go through a test run of the app. We had multiple focus groups and […] student advocates who were paid to provide their input. So we have consulted students constantly and staff as well so it’s fit for purpose and it doesn’t have to be decommissioned again.”

R: You mentioned some potential updates to the app further down the road. What can students expect from the app later on?

Ra: “Like I previously mentioned, the social element will definitely be incorporated in the near future. We’re hoping to integrate the timetables because currently it’s two clicks to get into it; it’s not integrated within the app. We’re also trying to enable in-app bookings so you’re not just linked to an event, you can actually book a spot at the event you’re going to go to through the app. I think these changes will just enhance the already amazing user experience.”

Momin Saqib, a former KCLSU President and colleague of Ramchandani’s, also had a role in creating the app. While he was unavailable for an interview, he provided the following statement exclusively for Roar:

“I wish an app like this existed when I was pursuing my undergrad at King’s! We didn’t have a centralised portal to access key systems or essential information. But with increasing digitisation, it was imperative to introduce the King’s Student app. Because of single-sign on and push notifications, there’s no way students can miss anything whether it’s their timetable, student records, email, info about campus events, workshops and much more! King’s is very close to my heart and I am honoured to be involved in this project. My experience at King’s and KCLSU is the reason I am able to help the app team to strategise a plan to ensure maximum awareness within the student community. I think it’s beneficial for all students to use the app for an enhanced experience at Kings.”

You can learn about the new King’s student app here.

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