ITS Puts Student Needs Into Student Hands

The arrival of the new, student-designed USF Mobile App is rapidly approaching, courtesy of the ongoing ITS Student App competition. The competition will culminate on March 19, when the final student teams will present their app prototypes at USF’s Ed Tech Expo. The students are competing for the first and second place prizes, which will be $2,500 and $1,000, respectively.


Last November, at the behest of Chief Information Officer (CIO) Opinder Bawa, ITS announced a competition for all USF students. According to ITS Director John Bansavich, “[it is] a competition to stimulate creative thinking and team building around designing and developing a more relevant and useful mobile app.” During the last month, the five finalist teams worked in Modo Labs technology framework workshops to build prototypes of their features.


Bansavich said the competition was born from a main goal of “addressing a need … for USF students.” Enhancing the USFMobile app was a logical path for addressing a need for current Dons. The two main goals for the USFMobile app in particular were “strengthening USFMobile’s functionality and increasing a broader adoption [of the app.]”


ITS made a very deliberate decision to not just solve the issue in-house and pump out a new, more efficient version of the USFMobile app. They had another critical objective: to get students to “work with each other and stimulate interdisciplinary teamwork.”


The teamwork aspect of the competition is mandatory – students were to enter in teams of two to six. What’s more, ITS has stressed the “interdisciplinary” element, highlighted by the fact that all students were allowed to participate, not just computer science majors. The idea was to get as many perspectives, voices and visions involved as possible, and thus not be limited to solely programmers’ perspectives.


“This is our first time offering this competition. We received a good response in terms of proposals…The teams received training from the vendor that developed the app so that students felt supported in learning how to create their app. We are looking forward to supporting students throughout this process,” Bansavich said.


All teams were given a strict Dec. 15 deadline to submit their ideas, and from that total pool only five teams were chosen as finalists. The final five teams were notified on Jan. 15. According to Bansavich, the teams’ ideas were judged on their “functionality and features, ease of use, originality and coherence (overall experience of application), interface design, response to need or problem for USF students, and overall marketability.”


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