Our school app

One of the strengths of SOLO taxonomy is being able to identify where I am with my learning and what my next steps are. @arti_choke. often reminds me to think about the process and not the finished product. When using ICT I often get caught up with the tools I use and focus on the finished product.  However reflecting on the process of my journey is important for abstract thinking.

So this time I choose to reflect on my process of building a school app for smart phones.
My learning journey with app building began last year when I followed up a Telstracleartweet about giving away free passes to Armageddon.
Through that tweet I managed to acquire two passes to a days event.
Before arriving at the venue, I searched for Armageddon on the app store and found their app for the event. Armageddon was magic and the app was really easy to use. The app enabled me to locate 
Ant Sang and also Zaboo and Vork from  the web series, The Guild.
That small act of kindness from Telstraclear launched me into an amazing journey that I am still on with app creating.
When I downloaded the app, I noticed that it was hosted by guidebookBeing of a curious nature, I downloaded guidebook and started playing. I was excited to play in a new area of technology. As I played I noticed the limitations.

The first limitation was that the app was free to a certain level and then if you wanted more features like having a tweet feed, you would have to pay considerable extra, and even more for unlimited downloads. At the same time the positives was being able to see what the app should look like. I liked the tidy structure that guidebook provided.
About the same time on twitter @Allanahkdrew my attention to ibuildapp Again I played and developed our school app. Yet again was hindered and this time by the registration fee. But I will come back to that later.
So where to next. By absolute accident I revisited my personal wikipage links page for different online environments that I register for. I noticed that widgetboxhad updated its tools and had a place for mobile app creation.
The positive addition with widget box was the free trial for two weeks that I was allowed. I could download and test the app over a variety of devices. Because of my previous experience with apps, I built the app in a day using the knowledge that I had already garnered.
My principalsaw the relevance of what I was doing and her excitement spurred me on when she asked some of our teachers to trial the app. I had great feedback for the app in particular from @oprubyslippers, @ginnynz01 and  @tashjaz .
So again I shuffled and fine-tuned the app and passed on the trial to other teachers in our school.
With our principal’s excitement and encouragement, I also created some useful tools for our teachers to use with their smart phones but more about that in a future post.
I then tried to have the app hosted free but the provider was not as advanced thinking in this area. Therefore I will not mention them again.
So where are we up to.
Unfortunately I can get the phone widget working on my wikispace but am unable to have it working correctly from our website. The html language is not quite correct and I am unable to rectify the problem. However using another pathway, the app link is up. It is clumsy but it is up.  So the app is live from our front page. You can download it here.
Our school app has been trialed on an android and an iPOD. The trials have been successful. The only negative with using the current builder is that this app cannot be read by an iPAD. However the developers are working on this limitation. Another limitation is that our logo cannot be seen on the androids. A further limitation is that the outline when downloaded is black only and that the social media tools are not in colour. The final limitation is the ongoing monthly cost to host the app. But the research I carried out over the three providers that I trialed all involved a monthly fee.
I will target a group of parents to give me community feedback and have started targeting our business partners to help us send the app out free to our community.
Retuning to ibuildapp. I love the idea of selling a school app and making money for the PTA but we do not charge for our school website so for this app I am reluctant to charge for information that is already out there. It also brings home to me that I am using my school laptop and iPHONE to build and trial the app and therefore what I build and trial belongs to my school.
At the same time extended abstract thinking using SOLO taxonomy enables me to understand that my next steps will be in creating code for building a learning app. The app that I have developed is an aggregation of sites. It is web based and requires the internet to drive the information. So the app is really our website in mobile form. 
Initially the app was built to give our community access to what we are doing and up to date information on happenings. But already I can see how our school app can be used to engage our community in what we are doing. One clear idea coming through is having access to real time survey.

Overall I think that building a school app was interesting and exciting because I learnt about the limitations of using a smart phone developers template. I also learnt what the school app should include but most of all I learnt about making connections and receiving feedback from my colleagues and using this feedback to develop a better product. I also found out that I already have some skills to begin developing my own app code and that I want to learn more about the process of being an app developer   so that I may support our learners as we move into this area of creating.
If you want to know more, have some suggestions for me or would like to support us in this area, please feel free to comment, twitter me @vanschaijik or our principal @newmarketschool or email me.

3 thoughts on “Our school app

  1. Very interesting! When I looked at WidgetBox, I saw that they charge a minimum of $22 a month to host the app. Is that what the school is now paying or have a missed a step? It sounds like a great learning process!!

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