Networking and forming new connections is an integral part of the college experience, especially in the eyes of Neil Niman.
LinkedUp, a fairly new app, is an idea that Niman, the Paul College Associate Dean of Academic Programs, came up with to help connect students. His partner in further developing the idea was Alicia Medros, Associate Director of Academic Technologies.
Niman said he originally came up with the idea for the students involved with the First-year Innovation and Research Experience (FIRE) program at UNH.
“The main purpose of the mobile app would be to support the FIRE program, but could we also design a mobile app that would encourage students to create social and professional networks,” Niman said of the original purpose for the app.
FIRE is a program for first year Paul students that comprises of a series of teams of around 20 people. Throughout the year, the teams compete to earn points. Through that, they needed an easy way to keep track of points so people would be more inclined to actively participate. By receiving money from UNH alumnus Tim Collins to develop the technology platform to support FIRE, LinkedUp was able to be created as a way to help the students log their points. The first version of the app became available in August of 2018.
Support for FIRE and Niman’s desire to improve student networking both led to the development of LinkedUp 2.0.
In Aug. 2019, version 2.0 of LinkedUp became available to all UNH students. The new version added functionalities like being linked to the UNH calendar so that students can learn about events, connected to WildcatLink so students can see different organization and it’s linked to the students’ information system.
The purpose of the 2.0 app, as the name suggests, is to connect people, but now there’s more information in it so users can find who’s in their classes, who’s going to different events, or to reach out to people in clubs they want to be in.
LinkedUp is also connected to Microsoft Teams, where students can form groups and message people and share documents. LinkedUp is now available to anyone with a UNH account, and Niman said that one of his hopes for the app is that professors will become more aware of it and use it in their classes to form study groups.
Since the second version of LinkedUp, that is available for all students, has only been out for about a month, the majority of people using it are still FIRE students, but as more people become aware of it, Niman said he hopes that it will take off and become more widely used as a resource for both students and faculty.
Right now, it is only at UNH; but in the future, it is possible that it will be licensed out to other universities, according to Niman. Presently, they are working on making it as useful to students as possible.
“Right now we’re trying to develop the right kinds of functionalities so that people find it really useful,” Niman said.
Niman is working on figuring out what people want to see from LinkedUp, so they can make it more useful for students, as they also have the money to continue developing. The purpose of this newer version would be to cater more closely to what people want from the app, using suggestions from students.