UNC Communicates With Its Student-Athletes On One Central Hub

There are 28 varsity sports and over 700 student-athletes at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. And along with a robust NCAA athletics program comes a variety of development programs offered by the Athletic Department. Services range from academic support to leadership development to sports nutrition – and all of these services have their own detailed schedules and policies to communicate.

Too much noise

Korie Sawyer works in the Office of Student-Athlete Development. She explains that more traditional ways of educating student-athletes about schedules and offerings just weren’t cutting it anymore. “We struggled with sending email. Students get so much and they end up not checking it. We tried Twitter and Facebook – but that wasn’t working. We were really trying to find one location where we could send information about meetings or workshops, but also provide updates and resources. We wanted it to be one central hub.”

Student-athletes have busy enough schedules as it is – and it’s no secret that college students in general are bombarded by a mountain of information every single day. Academics, Nutrition, Compliance – they were all looking for a way to cut through the noise and reach the students. “You can only post so many fliers in the building,” says Korie.

Unfortunately their search for a solution wasn’t really yielding any results – and no department wants to venture down the expensive, dreaded path of custom-developing their own solution. There had to be a way where the students could check one central location for schedules, updates, and important documents.

Building a communication hub

Luckily, Korie remembered that UNC had used an app for New Student Orientation – and that’s when she came across Guidebook. “I downloaded a few other of UNC’s other guides and did more research. Guidebook could do a lot of the things that we wanted, and it was easy to use on both ends.”

There were a few must-haves in order for Student-Athlete Development to be able to launch an app with the Guidebook platform. First of all, it needed to be quick to produce. Korie knew that with Guidebook she would be able to easily build out her content in a short amount of time. And in order to speed up the process, Korie took advantage of Guidebook’s professional Guidebuilding services to create a fully branded custom app, downloadable from the app stores.

Second of all, the app needed to be easy to update and maintain. Korie has taken on the role of being the app’s point person for all the different contributing departments. Having one singular person maintain the app allows Korie to keep content consistent and updated regularly. And taking advantage of Guidebook’s easy upload templates allows her to get large, complicated schedules into the app in a matter of minutes.

Finally, it appealed to Korie and her team that the app would have the Tar Heel look and feel. Custom colors, icons and layout ensure that when students are using the app, there’s no disconnect between the school’s values, the department’s messaging, and the content contained within.


The all-encompassing mobile solution

Now UNC’s student-athletes are enjoying the benefits of having tutoring schedules, facility maps, and access to a student-athlete specific messaging system all contained in a device they carry around with them everywhere they go – their phone. Over 70% of the school’s student-athletes have downloaded the app with encouragement from their SAAC leaders, coaches and the Office of Student-Athlete Development itself. “We hear a lot of good feedback from our student athletes – especially about the calendars and the schedules,” Korie says.

“Our students don’t have to go look up someone’s email address or search for a workshop in their email anymore because the information is always on their phone.” Most importantly, the centralized hub that was lacking now exists in each student-athlete’s pocket. “Guidebook is a great way to get information to students who are always attached to their phones and computers. College students don’t read emails – now Guidebook is that easy information hub.”

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