Austin Sheehy, student body president at Oklahoma Central University (OCU), and his vice president, Josh Jarrett, have been working since May to produce an app for their student body. They wanted to find a new way to reach out to their surrounding community and integrate OCU students more fully into the local city. They decided to try something new and innovative to accomplish this and started researching designing an app that students could download.
The app they created, Shop Central, will provide students with the ability to find restaurants and businesses around Edmond, Oklahoma City, and the surrounding area that offer discounts to OCU students. “[They] can pull up the app and see restaurants that offer discounts to UCO students and then [they] can go eat based on their preferences knowing that they’re going to save a little bit of money,” Austin says. This doesn’t just benefit the students, businesses will have, essentially, free advertising to over 20,000 students. Through this app the UCO student government hopes to improve their community outreach while providing a great asset for their students for years to come.
There are multiple ways to go about building an app for your student body. At first Austin thought about building Shop Central into an app that the school already had for services like Blackboard and Moodle. Unfortunately, he found that this method was difficult to do and the app was underutilized by students. He also recognized that, because of the high turnover rate student government experiences from year to year, they need to have a permanent staff person in the student affairs department to look after and manage the app from year to year and, luckily, they found someone to take on that responsibility.
To get around the initial problem of creating the app, Austin found a service, Como, to make a tailored app. Como, with a start up rate of $45 per year, and other app development services can be found online. There are many development services are free, but some features or some programs do come at a price. Most app creators that are basic and free can serve the purposes that you need.
Apps can be utilized by student governments for so many things, not just connecting with the outside community. Student governments have used the app for voting, providing a network for their campus, getting feedback, a club network, a centralized place for resources on campus, news announcements, social media, schedules, maps, athletics stats, public safety, and so much more.
Here are a few other app creators:
DWNLD – This one is simple and easy to use, but it does not provide a lot of free reign as far as templates go. For Apple, Android, and Windows platforms. Cost: Free – $15 per month
Yapp – Yapp is super quick and easy for both the developer and the user. The only downside is its lack of platform variety, available for Apple and Android only. Cost: Free
Apps Bar – A user friendly maker provides iPhone, Android, Windows, and Blackberry platforms with video tutorials and tech support. Cost: Free
Appy Pie – This one is much less simple than DWNLD, but also provides a lot more options. It also provides more platforms including Apple, Android, Windows, Blackberry, and iPad optimized. It’s Basic plan is also only $7 per month. Cost: Free – $33 per month
AppMker – AppMker is pretty easy to use and provides you analytics with your monthly subscription. iPhone, Android, and Mobile Web options are available. Cost: $1 – $9 per month
Infinite Monkeys – Infinite Monkeys provides you with a mobile website included in your subscription, no advertisements, no contract commitment, and a relatively user friendly interface. Available for Apple, Android, and Mobile Web. Cost: $1 – $9 per month
How would you use an app at your school?
Glossary of Terms:
Platform – Operating system a phone uses (e.g. iOS, Android, Windows, etc.)
Interface – The way the program runs and interacts with the user