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August 30, 2011 > Students wow Board with FUSD iPhone app

Students wow Board with FUSD iPhone app

By Miriam G. Mazliach

The August 24 Fremont Unified School District (FUSD) Board meeting rippled with excitement after the presentation by Mission San Jose High School (MSJHS) students, Sumukh Sridhara and Andrew Han. The two detailed their development of an iPhone app (application) for FUSD. Named iFUSD, this app would make Fremont the first school district in California to have an iPhone app. In practical terms, once loaded, onto an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, the application would make it easier to access, utilize and dispense information from the FUSD website.

When accessing FUSD's website, the students noted an inability to see the entire page without resorting to multiple touches. Retrieving information quickly is difficult as the website wasted space and serviceability is complex on "smart" IOS (iPhone Operating System) devices.

Sridhara, the developer and Han, the product manager, first worked together on an app for the MSJHS school newspaper, The Smoke Signal, and wanted to create an app for the school district's website. Han contacted Fremont Schools Superintendent James Morris about working with FUSD.

"Our district is a hotbed of creativity," said Morris. "This reinforces the power of really listening to students. These two are amazing, dynamic students with a dream and idea who sat down with our Director of Technology, John Krull. They're just brilliant."

According to Sridhara, "Mr. Krull was at the very first meeting and he showed a lot of interest and gave us the support of the technology department. He also helped as the liaison with FUSD to make sure this was an official app in every sense."

Krull add that he assisted the students in the capacity of a project director and worked with Warm Springs District parent, Rajan Barma of Diya IT Solutions, to set requirements, standards, and schedules. "I made sure the application met District standards and was deployed on District supported servers and using District services from Apple and other third parties," explained Krull. "This has provided oversight to ensure that standards and security are in place and that the application can be supported by the District both in the short term and long term. This process and practice enables it be an official FUSD application that can be supported by the District. As mentioned in the Board presentation, all content is coming from District web servers and push notifications will be administered by District Technology staff so all content will be authorized by the District."

In response to a parent question at the Board meeting, Krull further reiterated that no personal information on students could be accessed from the website.

Sridhara estimates that the time spent on the development of iFUSD was quite intensive, over 150 hours to date. Sridhara and Han also acknowledged Mr. Barma "for his involvement almost every step of the way and his help in getting beta testers."

The students are donating the app, to be operated by FUSD, but will retain developer designation. iFUSD will require only minimum maintenance. The District incurred a $99 development fee, paid to Apple, so that when the app is published it will say "iFUSD" and under it "Fremont Unified School District."

Board trustee Larry Sweeney expressed his appreciation to Sridhara and Han, "What you have done is truly awe inspiring and benevolent, in giving this to the district. We could not be more proud of what you have accomplished."

A kick-off for the official release of the application has been set for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, September 14, at the FUSD office, 4210 Technology Drive.

Expected to attend are guest speakers from Apple as well as District administration and the developers. The program will include the unveiling of the app and a demonstration of its features, with hands-on demonstrations by student beta testers who will have iPhones, iPod touches, and iPads. Beta testers will be wearing official iFUSD t-shirts! Attendees will be able to download the app.

"Fremont Unified School District is embracing technology and at the same time looking for ways to increase community involvement and communication," adds Krull.

iFUSD application kick-off
Wednesday, September 14
7 p.m.
FUSD Building, Board Room
4210 Technology Drive, Fremont
Open to the community

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