COLUMBIA — Starting this fall, iPhone-savvy students at MU, as well as others interested in the university, can stay connected using the goMizzou iPhone app, expected to be released on Aug. 23, the first day of classes.
Generally, an app, short for application, is a program that can be installed on a smartphone. The goMizzou app is intended to make the university more accessible for students and visitors by allowing them to stay updated on, and engaged in, campus happenings.
"We know that students come to content through a mobile platform in increased numbers in past years, so we need to be able to innovate to be able to better serve our students where they are," said Keith Politte, manager of the Technology Testing Center at the Reynolds Journalism Institute and one of the creators of the RJI-iPhone Student Development Competition, a program dedicated to creating apps for journalists.
"We're wanting to move our students from digital consumers to digital producers," Politte said.
Tim Noce, president of the Missouri Students Association, said there were two options to get the Mizzou app built: either have a computer science class for engineering and journalism students design it or have an outside company build and distribute it.
Hiring an outside company would have cost $45,000 per year, Noce said, so he decided to make the app in-house as part of a collaboration between the Missouri Students Association and MU's Division of Information Technology.
Politte said another benefit is that it allows students to create apps, not just use them.
"Last year, I got involved with technology and I thought it would be a really good way to make use of the new media that people were looking at with their mobile phones," Noce said.
The initial version of goMizzou will provide a map of campus, a database with contact information for students and faculty, a news feed and a calendar of events.
The features of the app will expand in the future largely based on student feedback, which the teams working on the app will incorporate, Noce said.
"It was one of my goals to have the students actually have input on the app and run it like a business," he said.
Although there is an MU Sports app under contract by CBS Sports, Noce thinks that the goMizzou app, which is completely independent from the athletics app, is more versatile for students. Plus it's free — the sports app costs $4.99.
Right now, the goMizzou app will work with devices such as iPhones and iPod Touches that run on Apple's mobile operating system. But Politte and Kevin Bailey, director of customer service and support in the Division of Information Technology, are optimistic that it will eventually extend to other smartphones and communication platforms.
"We would have to support more than just the iPhone," said Bailey, who helps coordinate the members of the teams working on the app. "The goal is to get this information into all the students' hands."