CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Earlier this year, officials with Clarksville Academy brainstormed ways to improve communication with parents, current students and prospective students. They decided to create iCougar, an app for the Apple iPad and iPhone. The idea was to make it a centralized digital location for information on the school, but then came the next question – how do you create an app?
“We had heard that the Austin Peay State University GIS Center was developing apps for businesses and one of our parents, Doug Catellier (GIS functional support specialist) was leading the charge in this,” Sally Allen, director of marketing and development at the Academy, said. “CA has always been a supporter of APSU and felt this was a great partnership for both schools.”
In early May, Allen sat down with Catellier and told him what they were looking for in an app. After a few meetings, the project was handed over to a group of bright APSU computer science students who spent the next three months developing iCougar, one of the first school apps created in this area.
“We were trying to aggregate a lot of information in one app, so the parents could go to one place where all the information is consolidated,” T.J. Philips, a former APSU student, said. He graduated in May.
“We had worked on it for quite a while, and we had something we thought would work pretty well,” Adam Urbas, an APSU student, said. “We submitted it to Apple, and they wanted us to tweak it. That’s how we made it look really good.”
The students worked closely with the Thrive Creative Group, owned by APSU graphic design alumnus Lorilee Rager, to create distinct, usable graphic interfaces for the iPad and the iPhone. On a recent Monday morning, Catellier sat in his office showing off on his devices what the students created. The new app allows users to check the school’s Twitter feed, access a calendar of events, contact administrators and teachers through email and locate buildings and classrooms with an impressive, bird’s eye view map.
“It was pretty fun, and we got to try some new things, like developing the map,” Urbas said. Users can call a specific building on the Academy’s campus with their iPhones by touching it on the map.
The app also includes information on students’ grades, CA sports programs and games and emergency notifications.
“We are so happy with the final product and it turned out better than I could have hoped for,” Allen said. “We are thrilled with it and love that APSU students had a role in its development.”
Parents, teachers and students have also responded positively to the app, which provides one location for much of the information they need.
Students working in the APSU GIS Center previously helped develop the APSU app, and the DMARK app, which is receiving national recognition for the way it allows first responders to immediately document damage in emergency and disaster situations.
“We’d like to be able to do more apps,” Catellier said. “We had basically three students – T.J. Phillips, Adam Urbas and Austin Ledbetter – working on it. It’s good for the students, because now they’re getting real world experience. They can say, ‘here’s a list of apps on the market that I helped create.’”
“I’m going to try and go to graduate school, and stuff like this is great for future opportunities,” Phillips said.
To learn more about the iCougar app or to find out how the APSU GIS Center can help develop an app, contact Catellier at firstname.lastname@example.org.