Visiwick Scalable Mobile App Development

BACKGROUND

Visiwick wanted to develop a mobile app geared towards school districts. The mobile apps (Android and iOS) provided the school district with another channel to stay in touch with students, families, teachers, and staff.

CHALLENGE

School districts and Parents are short on time. Parents needed concise and curated content specific to their needs and interests. At the same time school districts are short on resources and duplicating effort to post content to multiple locations is not an efficient use of precious time. The challenge was to build a scalable platform that could serve multiple school districts but make each feel as though the app was developed just for them. We also had to make content management and sponsor management as easy as possible.

K-12 Mobile Application Help Screens

LANGUAGE TRANSLATION

In-app language translationWe developed a two-tier language translation system. Some districts have resources to convert communication into various languages and some do not. The app allows a district to enter content in English and then also connect manually translated versions. If a translated version is not available, the system automatically falls back to Google translate.

The mobile app supports 14 languages and automatically serves content in the preferred language of the mobile app user.

UNIQUE FEATURES

Visiwick approached us to develop a mobile application platform that would allow them to deploy mobile apps for various school districts around the United States. Developing a core mobile app that needs to be flexible enough to fit each district’s needs yet maintain code integrity requires planning, expertise, and experience.

  • Check Geo location for targeted sponsor banners
  • Check Location aware school boundary finder
  • Check Emergency push notifications
  • Check XML integrated news feed
  • Check Two-tiered language translation
  • Check Infinite navigation
  • Check iCal and Google calendar integration
  • Check Accessibility features for visually impaired
  • Check Cloud based backend

TECHNOLOGIES

git, jenkins, starbug, bootstrap, titanium, mysql, ios, android, grunt, dojo toolkit, google maps, google cloud platform, less, mongodb

BOUNDARIES

We developed an integrated school boundary location system. This allowed the user to simply click and have the mobile app tell them what school boundaries pertain to your current location or a specific address. Easy, right? It seems simple on the front end - that was the goal after all. On the backend, you'll see that it tracks various polygon data for each school and utilizes a non relational database to store spatial data. We integrated this with the Google Maps API and overlaid our data.

CLOUD BASED BACKEND

One code base to give each school district their very own app. We knew that each district would want to put their own touch on the app, and that they all had various ways they preferred to share information. We also knew that if we didn't create a framework that managing all of these apps individually could become a nightmare. Therefore, we designed a platform instead of just a product. This allowed us to help manage one code base and develop new features that could be easily ported to other district apps. At the same time, the visual portions of the app were made configurable so that the app could portray the personality of the district. The best of both worlds? We like to think so.

k12 code base

CONTENT MANAGEMENT

Through multiple conversations if we had one takeaway it was that school administration was short on one resource: time. They didn't have time to update yet another platform so we made it easy for them. We created a feed reader that automatically pulls news from the school district's website as well as the school websites and saves it all in a way that could easily be shared. We did the same thing with their event calendars. We also developed a Content Management System for them just in case they wanted to add content that wasn't available elsewhere.

DYNAMIC NEWSFEED

We knew that parents and students are busy and they really only need to know what is pertinent to their families. In the registration process we allow parents and students to specify which schools they would like to see in their news feed, their preferred language, and other preferences to make the app perfectly theirs. We utilize their preference sets and filter the content display to only show what brings them value. We took the same approach with calendar events and push notifications.

illustration showing user centric news feed

SOME OF THE DISTRICTS USING OUR APP

poudre school district, harvard community unit school district 50, douglas county school district, community high school district, sheridan school district, colorado springs school district 11, jeffco public schools

Available to Over 350,000 Parents, Students, Staff, and Administrators.