02 Aug 2013
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DIY apps being built by schools

By Rebecca Wood

Sometimes the simplest ideas provide the greatest benefits. And for Murrays Bay Intermediate School (MBIS), on Auckland’s North Shore, having the opportunity to build their own mobile app has provided an additional way to connect with parents.

The school used a free app builder, ibuildapp.com, to create a web-based app that is available on both iPhones and android devices.

Year 7 teacher, Sarah Herbert, who created the school’s app, surveyed students and parents to discover what they wanted quick access to and narrowed it down to nine specific areas.

These included links to the school’s uniform, stationery and tuckshop price lists, reminders given out at assemblies, a link to access the school calendar, and buttons that parents could simply tap to call the school and report absences, access school newsletters, email teachers and access the school’s website.

Herbert says it was a relatively easy app to build. “The only time I got really stuck was near the end as I had made a ‘native iPhone and Android app’ whereas I should have made a web-app,” she says.

“I then struck trouble trying to work out how to have it published. I applied for licensing from Android, [it] cost $25 and was pretty instant. Tried to do the same for Apple and found there were far more hoops to jump through, and a much higher cost. It is here I sought the advice of a professional in order to ensure I was doing the right thing.

“It took less than 30 minutes with a computer programmer to have the web-app working, and the MBIS web-app was born.”

Since the initial web app was developed, other teachers at MBIS have used the technology to build apps for their individual classes. And with more than 1000 downloads, it seems parents are enjoying the ease of use too.

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