INDIANAPOLIS — A new smartphone app developed by CyberLab interns at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis opens a mobile, global doorway to CourseNetworking, a free academic social networking site created to change the way the world learns. The app was created for students as a supplemental academic tool, but anyone anywhere may use it.
With the app, students don’t have to sit in front of their desk computers or laptops, said Mengyuan Zhao, a CyberLab research associate and project coordinator. “They can bring learning with them wherever they are as long as they have a smartphone and access to the Internet.”
Two interns who are computer science majors in the School of Science at IUPUI, Manpreet Singh and Phillip Heebner, developed the CourseNetworking app for Android that was launched earlier this month. Singh also developed the CN app for iPhones, launched about six months ago. The free CourseNetworking[SRC1] app can be accessed through the app store on iPhones and through Google Play on Android phones.
Singh, CyberLab’s most experienced programming intern, said the biggest challenge had to do with code for the app. “Because this project needed to be completed as a team, we had to make sure that the code we wrote was compatible with the code others had written.”
Heebner, who worked directly with Singh, said, “The most challenging part for me was learning how to use a large number of tools at once. In some ways, the experience was one of the most rewarding.”
CyberLab is a research and development center in the School of Engineering and Technology. It provides research and intellectual support for the design, development and implementation of innovative educational technology and builds connections between the university and industries to transfer research outcomes into practice. Currently, CyberLab is providing research and instructional design support for the design, development and implementation of the CN.
CourseNetworking was founded in July 2011 by Ali Jafari, a professor of information technology in the School of Engineering and Technology and director of the CyberLab. He is serving as the conceptual architect and CEO of the CN. Jafari conceptualized and founded three other learning environments and companies at the CyberLab, including Indiana University’s Oncourse (now Sakai), ANGEL Learning and Epsilen Environment, with capital funding from The New York Times.
The CN has users from more than 100 countries. It focuses on collaboration, social learning and pairing learners based on shared interests. The site has two layers, one a global learning environment and the another layer for specific courses.
The app offers users a simplified version of the CN website, enabling students to, among other things, make posts, comment on posts and share learning materials.