Getting information about Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) just got a little easier. Now, anyone can Start Here. Access Anywhere with a mobile device. BMCC has a new free mobile app for Android and Apple devices, available through the Apple App Store and through the Google Play Store.
BMCC President Antonio Pérez says BMCC is always seeking new ways of using technology to better assist our students.
To facilitate development, BMCC Vice President for Technology Joseph Spadaro did not seek outside consultants for assistance. Instead, he assembled an in-house application development team.
“We are fortunate to have a lot of talented people in our Information Resources and Technology (IRT) division,” said Spadaro. External consultants were utilized for security and load testing of the app.
Utilizing open source software tools, the BMCC development team started the task in June 2015. Major development was finished by fall 2015.
BMCC’s new mobile app gives users access to:
- My BMCC: a personalized portal where a student can find his or her class schedule, books, and academic status; and where faculty can view their class rosters and communicate with their classes;
- Classmates: chat feature where students can get in touch with other classmates within their own registered classes;
- Courses: details of current and future course descriptions, location and availability;
- Directory: allows students to get in touch with anyone campus-wide and add the contact directly to their phone’s address book;
- Events: updates on the latest campus events and meetings
- News: the latest news and information from BMCC;
- Video: a database of the latest BMCC videos;
- Photos: thousands of BMCC images from the digital archive
- BMCC email;
- PC Labs: a shows real-time status of available public computers throughout the College
- Emergency contacts: 911, BMCC Public Safety;
- BMCC Map: navigate around campus buildings and pinpoint locations on the map.
Initial suggestions from student and faculty beta test groups have included, among other abilities, a tool that updates the daily cafeteria menu to real time listings of available treadmills in the new BMCC Fitness Center.
Spadaro says the developers will review all the feedback. He said the overall development process had been smooth with only minor configuration or design hiccups.
In November the team was ready to submit the app to Android and Apple for approval. Within a week, Android gave its approval. Soon after making final adjustments to the app icons, Apple approved the final design in December.
Configuring the app to connect with CUNY’s and BMCC’s existing server infrastructure presented the biggest hurdles.
“We have our website [BMCC] and it has its own database, then we have something called 805 data, from CUNY Central, and we also have an active directory to authenticate your CUNY ID every time you log on to the site,” said Matthew Conroy, one of the four app developers.
Web developer Milla Wynn, who was also a BMCC student, said that throughout the process, the team has constantly brainstormed and anticipated what features would be most beneficial to students.
“I know what it’s like to get off the train early in the semester, be running late, and forget where my class meets,” said Wynn, who points out that the app provides the student’s class location, required textbooks and information about the professor.
Once all the final debugging, kinks and other configuration wrinkles were ironed out, the team conducted beta testing with select groups of students and faculty.
In the coming months, the BMCC app development team will field student, faculty and staff suggestions for additional features and enhancements for the new app. The team can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.