Princeton's phone app provides mobile resource
Students and visitors to Princeton's campus looking for everything from course schedules to University news and events can finally say there's an app for that.
Princeton's Office of Information Technology (OIT) has launched iPrinceton, a free smartphone mobile application that comprises a diverse suite of 10 interactive features. These include a complete faculty and student directory, information and news about Princeton athletics, a University events calendar, a course catalog and descriptions, a detailed campus map, University videos, news, and images, as well as a full library catalogue and a link to Princeton's social media pages.
"We felt this app was very important for the University, and we worked with offices across campus to create it," said Serge Goldstein, associate chief information officer and director of academic services at OIT, adding that the app will be a useful resource not only for Princeton students, but also alumni, prospective students and their families. "This is becoming a very common trend in higher education, and schools that have already done this have received great feedback."
Each of the app's 10 features, or modules, offer a diverse range of functions to meet the needs of visitors to campus, and individuals with a general interest in the University.
The course catalogue provides a full listing of every course from the University registrar's website, sorted by category -- engineering, freshman seminars, humanities, interdisciplinary programs, natural sciences, social sciences and writing seminars -- all of which are then subdivided into course topics. Within each category, users can view every course offered for the most current semester, along with a detailed course description, the days on which it is held, the number of sections (if applicable), the name of the instructors and its location on campus.
The athletics module is organized by each of the University's varsity sports teams, with subdivisions for men's and women's where applicable. Within each sport tab, users can access a regularly updated news feed about that particular team, as well as the current season's schedule and scores.
The videos module brings users to Princeton's YouTube page, where users can watch a wide variety of content, including student- and faculty-produced videos, as well as features showcasing University events such as Reunions and Commencement. Moreover, the still photography feature enables potential students and visitors to take a virtual tour of the campus' most attractive buildings and grounds, as well as browse for photos of activities and events held on campus.
For those looking to keep up with current Princeton news and events, the news module will provide users with updated content from the University's home page. This will include top news, feature stories and featured events. Users also can search within the news module for keywords or topics.
The evolution of iPrinceton was a cooperative venture between OIT and Blackboard Mobile Central, a San Francisco-based technology design firm that previously has helped develop smartphone applications for universities that include Duke, Stanford and MIT.
Also instrumental in the app's development was Ryan Irwin, a member of the class of 2010. According to Goldstein, Irwin grew up with the group of young men who eventually went on to form Blackboard Mobile, and this summer Irwin worked with the Blackboard team in California to help facilitate the execution of iPrinceton.
"He was able to show us test builds of several different apps and to let us know what we could expect from iPrinceton," Goldstein said of Irwin's contributions.
Several University departments also played an integral role in providing OIT with much of the app's content. For example, all course data was supplied by the registrar's office, while the University's Office of Communications provides the app's videos, campus images and news feed.
Goldstein said this is just the first phase of iPrinceton's development, adding that the app eventually will include logistical information about Reunions and Commencement while also expanding with features such as real-time campus bus locations, library book reservations and health services information.
During a "soft launch" testing phase begun in early September, more than 2,000 users downloaded the app. Currently, iPrinceton is available for the iPhone via the iTunes App Store and for the BlackBerry through the BlackBerry App World store, and soon will be made available for additional devices -- such as the Android and iPad.