Is There an App for that?

Today, I read the blog, How We Developed a Mobile App for Our School District, You Can Do It Too. The Judson Independent School District used Conduit to create a mobile app (JISD Connect) that aggregates several of their online sites. By using Conduit, the app pulls from existing resources such as Facebook, Twitter, Picasa images, RSS feeds, YouTube, and more.

Since the author claimed that I could ‘Do It Too’, I decided to try and create an app for the district. Right away, I ran into problems. The district web site does not provide RSS feeds. I could pull data from Facebook and Twitter — but those accounts are for Nemaha Valley High School and not the district. So, I started working with a Nemaha Valley High School app that would pull the Twitter and Facebook feeds. Knowing that there are great articles on the NVHS side of the district web site, I investigated converting the site to an RSS feed. I was able to do that with a trial account on Feedity. That allowed me to add the web site to the NVHS app — with some issues. Unfortunately, the ‘read more’ links at the end of article blurbs show up as feeds. Eliminating these detractors will take more time and possibly a more expensive account level.

 

Link to trial mobile app for NVHS: http://mob.conduit.com/e8fd1280-84df-4455-af21-cceb264110f5

My second trial at app creation was using a teacher blog or web site. Knowing that my blog had RSS feeds enabled, I experimented with it. I was able to add the blog and my twitter account to the app.

Link to app created from my blog and Twitter account: http://mob.conduit.com/00bda316-0a4d-4339-b53e-05b9a5e2353b

Since most of our teachers are now using Google Sites instead of the wordpress blog, my next experiment was to see if I could turn a teacher site into an app. I found one teacher, Kelly Williams, with RSS feeds enabled on two sections of his site. I was able to use those feeds to create his app — but it isn’t pulling the feeds from his home page.

Link to mobile app for Kelly Williams’ web site: http://mob.conduit.com/86513feb-8a6c-4c4b-97ee-2d6dde6b6d04

So, can we do it too? Yes — But. In order to make this work, we need web sites with working RSS feeds or access to a feed converter such as Feedity ($39), active Twitter accounts, active Facebook pages (not accounts), etc. We will also have to register to be an app developer for both Apple ($99) and Android (Google Play $25).

Thinking that I could easily create an app from the NV Forensics Facebook site, I played with that one only to discover that it won’t work. I’m guessing it isn’t working because NV Forensics is a ‘person’ that has to be friended — not a page.

Is this worth pursuing? YES! Even though there are issues, having an app for the district, building or teacher web site will be worth the time, effort and cost.

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