Your Feedback Wanted: Making ED Online More Mobile

Are you reading this on a smartphone right now?  Would you be having a better reading experience if we offered a mobile-friendly version of the Homeroom Blog?

The web managers at the Department of Education, including myself, know the number of smartphone and tablet owning Americans is on the rise.  In the past 12 months the number of ED.gov visits on mobile devices increased by about 143%.

Digital Strategy LogoOur team is looking at ways to enhance the Department’s digital services and respond to the White House’s Digital Government Strategy.  We are spearheading a new initiative to make our websites and online applications more mobile friendly – by optimizing web pages for viewing on mobile devices or creating apps for mobile devices.

With the recent launch of the new StudentAid.gov by ED’s office of Federal Student Aid, the department has taken the first steps in meeting the demands of mobile users. StudentAid.gov always looks great because the site’s display adjusts depending on whether a visitor is browsing on a desktop, tablet, or smartphone.  StudentAid.gov provides consumers with a one-stop website where they can access federal student aid information, apply for federal aid, repay student loans and navigate the college decision-making process.

Additionally, the Answers.ed.gov site is optimized for mobile browsing and searching. The National Center for Educational Statistics created a mobile version of the School Districts Demographic System and a mobile application of selected NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) Results (for Apple iOS| for Android).

This is just a start and we have still have work to do.

We want to hear from you. Tell us which of ED sites and applications you think are the most important to make more mobile friendly. Your input will help us prioritize the suggestions made here and some of the ideas we already have in mind.

To get the conversation started, here are a few candidates to make more mobile friendly:

For more ideas, see our lists of ED-funded websites and online tools.

Comments open on this blog post will be open through August 20. Our team plans to analyze your feedback and set out a plan for making more of our websites and tools more mobile in the coming months.

Thanks for taking the time to tell us what you think!

Jill James is Web Director at the U.S. Department of Education

16 Comments

  1. What’s the point of developing new apps if the government data displayed is outdated? Fiscal Year 2013 begins on Oct. 1, 2012 and I have seen no updates to Funding Status, eligibility, applicant info, etc.

  2. it should make the student navigator apps , it will helpful for the student to take the admission in new colleges and finding the list of colleges & their cost. there should a student zone in which there will be that type of games and other apps those intrtain the children as well as gave them knowledge also.it will be beneficial for them to learn something constructive via their smart phones instead of spending their time on Facebook or texting their friends

  3. On-demand elearning services are also a popular choice because they can be deployed in minutes and do not require instructors and institutions to run their own servers.

  4. First, thank you for the opportunity to offer suggestions. Here are a few that I would like to offer–

    College Navigator: Would love to have mobile-ready version of Navigator, as well as the capability to apply frames to allow high schools to personalize. Could be a very useful tool, particularly in settings where students, families, or educators are engaged in the college search process. Students could browse information about a college as they peruse a college fair, tour a campus, see a college sign on the highway, or participate in a counseling session about going to college via their portable devices.

    Student Loans: A loan app would be very useful. Information about IBR, loan calculators, interest rates, private vs. federal loans, loan forgiveness, etc. could be bundled into a single point of entry. A mobile-ready format could also give counselors and advisers to disseminate information about loans efficiently to a large number of students and families.

    Consumer Protection: A consumer awareness app would also be useful. The Department has a lot of potentially helpful data–default rates, gainful employment reporting requirements, net price, and other information on the college scorecard–that could be made more accessible in a portable format. Students considering a college could conduct on-the-spot searches when considering enrollment in an institution when the student may be asked to commit to enrolling in a short window of time.

    FAFSA/College Cost: Mobile-ready access to the FAFSA as well as the college cost and transparency center would also be useful, particularly to counselors and others who work with students and families in settings where a desktop computer is not usually used or available.

    FERPA: Allowing access to FERPA guidance via mobile devices may cut down significantly on the amount of time professionals must spend after meetings to consult with the information on the FPCO site.

    Thanks again for inviting us to provide feedback.

  5. It would make sense for College Navigator to be a mobile-friendly site, so students can look info up even while they are visiting college campuses.

  6. Kids spend more and more time on Cell Phones, it will be beneficial for them to learn something constructive via their smart phones instead of spending their time on Facebook or texting their friends. I am looking forward to it.

  7. Younger people in particular access the Internet via mobile technology. Those sites oriented towards young people must be easily accessible with mobile friendly sites for smart phones and tablets.

  8. Keep up the good work. I’m a former ED empployee (Contracts Ofc.) and decided to check on what was being posted on the website, and I’m truely impressed with the new format and all the information available to the general public as well as the education community. I will pass your websites on to the teachers and MD. school officials living here in my development. Joyce C.

  9. Recently, I was at the department for the Teaching Ambassador Fellowship
    five year reunion. During that time, fellows and teacher leaders collectively
    shared ideas on what the department can do to make communication more fluid.
    More mobile friendly “apps” resonated a common thread throughout
    many conversations. I am so pleased to know that
    teacher voices were heard and put into action.
    It is with teachers at the policy tables when true transformation occurs!
    Thank you for continuing to provide a seat at the table.

  10. I think the notion of making them friendly to iPad and smartphone users is a wise one. I see the ownership of iPads and tablets rising steadily, so it is just proactive to consider this.

  11. I would look first at specific use cases you want to support rather than attempt to replicate web sites. Replicating existing web sites might not be wise given how so many have evolved almost haphazardly over the years.

    I would definitely consider consider whether you are trying to present content or link the user to other content outside the sphere of your primary content. If the latter, you increase the likelihood that the content may not be displayable on the target device because it may not have been optimized for mobile devices.

    Keep in mind that many of the devices you will be displaying on are mobile devices designed to support communication (e.g., via phone or texting) not just web access. If there is a value to naming and individual as an author or as an authority, do you also present information making it possible to communicate with that person?

    I discuss some of these issues here:

    “The EPA’s Mobile Web Site is Great (except for one thing)” http://www.ddmcd.com/epa.html

  12. The webpages will be used more by teaching staff if they are ipad or chromebook(tablet) friendly. I know they are not used often, but maybe this kind of shift will spark some interest.

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