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iFUSD app launches!

By Miriam G. Mazliach

September 20, 2011

Fremont Unified School District has an amazing new informational tool that officially launched and became available on September 14, free of charge!

As previously reported in the August 30, 2011 issue of TCV, two resourceful students from Mission San Jose High School, Sumukh Sridhara and Andrew Han, created an iPhone app (application) designated iFUSD, for use by the Fremont community. This remarkable achievement makes Fremont the first school district in California to have one.

Sridhara, the developer/designer of the app and Han as the project manager had wanted to create a functional and effective app for the school district’s website, after previously completing one for their school’s newspaper. The teens realized that having accessible school district information would be beneficial to both students and their parents.

According to School Superintendent Dr. James Morris, “When these two incredible young men first contacted me, they asked, “What do you think of this idea? Then they met with me and discussed how the app could serve our families and community. I invited our Director of Technology, Dr. John Krull to come on board to assist them. We’re very proud of them,” added Morris.

Prior to their creation of the iFUSD app, Sridhara and Han recognized that the FUSD website proved difficult to view on any “smart” device as only fifty percent of the site’s space was content based. Information when retrieved would get squeezed into three inches, making it unreadable and multiple touches were needed to see the selected portion. So, they looked for a solution and decided to create an app designed to run on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, and installed through the App Store.

With the creation of iFUSD, the ease of obtaining and utilizing information from the District’s website is truly just a finger touch away.

The launch celebration, held in the School District boardroom, included a keynote address by Sridhara and Han as well as introductory remarks from various school district personnel and technology representatives.

“We live in a mobile, connected world and we need 21st Century technology in schools,” stated Board President Bryan Gebhardt. “This app is a statement, a powerful tool for our students and parents and demonstrates the importance of technology.”

Dr. Rajan Barma of DiyaIT Solutions who assisted Dr. Krull and the student developers regarding standards, beta testing and requirements stated, “I’ve been working in development all over the world and these kids are top form. Their get it done attitude really inspired me.”

The evening’s program showcased the app’s functions and demonstrated its features. Afterwards, attendees had the opportunity for some hands-on practice using iPads provided at the “Genius Bar” table, manned by student beta testers.

The iFUSD app contains 60 core features in 8 main tabs (panes) covering: News, Calendar, Community, Board of Education, District, Schools, Budget and Emergency. There are several special features such as subscribing to Push notifications, through the Settings tab, for important live updates or alerts from FUSD.

“I think it’s really exciting to see the students engaged and willing to approach the Superintendent, who was so receptive,” said James Brennan, Systems Engineer at Apple, Inc. “Also, the IT (Information Technology) department was very supportive in getting this off the ground.”

Sridhara and Han worked arduously over three months on this process but as Sridhara explained with a bit of humor, “It took us 109,285 lines of code to develop. That’s twice the number of lines found in ‘The Iliad and the Odyssey,’ which I’m currently reading.”

Law adds, “I’m glad to have worked with Sumukh and this has given us a lot of satisfaction and enjoyment.”

Their generosity is evident in that the pair has donated the app to the school district. A $99 development fee was previously paid to Apple by the District for the “iFUSD” designation. There is no cost to the public to download or use the application. Yes, it’s really free!

For now Sridhara and Han will concentrate on monitoring and updating the iFUSD app as needed and get back to the reality that comes with the demands of being high school students -- studying and homework.


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