Sep 15, 2011 02:49 PM
We’ve been working on mobile projects for a couple of years. Given the fast changing world of mobile technology it’s hard to keep up and our strategy has been a little broad as a result. We are using the BlackBoard Mobile applications for iPhone (and Android in a couple of months), That is the same platform that iStanford is using. Out of the box it does not have a hook into peoplesoft except for the course schedule (and that required work on our side). The BBMobile guys (Stanford grads) did develop a custom applet that allows students to do add/drop classes, but it was built for iStanford and had to be built for both the android and iphone applications (and other platforms – which the list is actually getting smaller – Blackberry and HTML5 are the only other big platforms I’m currently concerned about). When we investigated doing the same type of app at TCU they were going to build the iPhone side and we would have been responsible for the SOA/web service That was too much work and we still don’t trust the Integration Broker for add/drop (android was going to be a separate project and cost). I like the team at BBMobile, but their strategy is mostly native app focused right now, and that’s expensive (although slick). Incidentally, I don’t believe there was any cooperation with Oracle on the iStanford project – it came out of a final project from Stanford’s iPhone development course, the students then created a company called TerriblyClever and then sold to Blackboard.
After looking at a couple of other options, TCU signed with GreySparling on their Mobile Enablement for Peoplesoft project. We’re an early adopter but I have permission to talk about it. Essentially they are taking the desktop browser presentation and transforming it on the PeopleSoft webserver into an HTML5 presentation that is built for mobile phone browsers. They aren’t just shrinking the page (like an iPhone does), but they are adapting it so it’s much more functional on a 320 by 240 screen. When they first showed it to us in depth, we were really impressed with what they were doing and continue to be impressed by the direction they are taking. They are a pleasure to work with. Chris Heller and Larry Grey are partners in the organization and are original PeopleSoft employees that developed a lot of the technology we’re still using. Anyway, enough gushing (full disclosure – we have agreed to help them publicize the tool IF we liked it, and so far we do; talk to me in 3 months though!).
Our goal is to have a test group of students registering for classes, schedule look-ups, doing grade checks, and ad hoc drops/adds. We may get HR screens and other self-service items as a bonus just because we think it’s going to “just work.” The thing we liked the most about it, is it doesn’t require us to learn anything new to “mobilize” our web environment or install any new infrastructure (we think). We can use AppDesigner to develop new components and they should work in the GSS Mobile environment. We have several things to work out still – but if this comes together the technical effort is going to be very small on TCU’s part, and that’s a big win for sure. Hopefully our students like it. That will be the real measure of success.
To: tech – heug.org
Date: 09/15/2011 12:09 PM
Subject: Mobile Apps
I’ve been tasked to find out what other schools have done in the mobile app world. I’ve reviewed the presentations from past conferences so I know what a few schools have done. Anyone else care to share you successes/failures, plans, inhouse/vendor, etc? If vendor solutions used — which vendors were considered and which vendor selected. Do you currently have mobile apps available to your students? Which areas have you provided to your students — course catalog, grades? If you are in the planning stages when is your projected release to mobile devices?