Cracking Ryerson’s Mobile Crowd

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By Nicole Siena

For student Edwin Chan, it took only 21 seconds to crack the final code. This wasn’t a video game, or even a classroom assignment, but Ryerson Mobile’s Crack The Code contest — a scavenger-style hunt designed to raise awareness for the school’s mobile service.

Students were required to solve Ryerson-themed challenges during the first week of classes, and combine the resulting clues at the end of the week to uncover the final code.

“I was blown away,” explained Graham McCarthy, web services librarian with Ryerson, who helped spearhead the contest. “I thought I’d get 100 people, and hopefully have 15 or 20 people finish.”

Instead, almost one thousand students accepted the challenge. Of those users, 125 have successfully cracked the code thus far. Top finalists were awarded Sony PlayStation 3 gaming consoles and Adobe Creative Suite software.

The contest is part of a larger initiative encouraging students to take advantage of the Ryerson Mobile site. Since it’s inception more than a year ago, McCarthy and the RMobile team have been working to give those with mobile devices better access to school related information.

“The project was a collaboration that started back in February 2009,” he explains. “We had originally talked about just getting library services onto mobile devices, but then it exploded once we talked with SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise) and got involved with the Digital Media Zone.”

In fact, since the launch of RMobile last year, there have been more than 63,000 page views, which equates to at least 8,000 unique users — a third of the university’s undergraduate population. McCarthy only expects those numbers to increase as services improve, and mobile devices become more widespread.

Accessible via, the site differs from the regular Ryerson portal in that it is configured to fit comfortably on smaller screens, and takes the limitations of mobile browsers into account. Students can look up class schedules, staff and faculty directories, and even find directions to other areas on campus through an interactive map.

However, McCarthy has even bigger plans for future iterations of the software.

“I want the ability to take a book off the shelf at Chapters, scan the barcode with your phone, and see if Ryerson’s library has it in the catalogue,” he said.

Other ideas include a mobile version of Soapbox, the school’s new online suggestions system, and real-time scores and stats for the university’s varsity sports teams — assuming you’re not a BlackBerry user, that is.

“We checked the stats,” explained McCarthy. “It’s mostly Androids and iPhones that are being used on campus, [and] only a small percentage of people are using BlackBerrys.”

This is largely due to differences with the BlackBerry OS, which makes development more difficult and timeconsuming than with other smartphones — though, that could change as newer models are introduced.

Meanwhile, though Crack The Code is officially over, students are still free to continue working on challenges, or even start from the beginning, with the possibility of future contests.

As for the future of RMobile, McCarthy is looking forward to pushing new updates and features in the coming months. Those who wish to leave feedback can contact

Photo: Lauren Strapagiel


  1. Crack the Code was definitely a lot of fun, and I learned a lot about Ryerson at the same time. I’m looking forward to another Crack the Code this fall!

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