Stanford embraces iPhone; will an iYale be next?

Last October, two Stanford undergrads launched a new portal for academic resources and social life — via an application for the iPhone. Will an iYale be next?

Everything universities have to offer could soon fit in students’ pockets.

Recognizing the potential connection between mobile technology and resources for students constantly on the go, a group of Stanford University juniors led by Kayvon Beykpour and Aaron Wasserman combined a multitude of existing administrative services into one neat package: an iPhone application. While Yale offers many of the same resources, the University currently has no plans to develop a similar all-inclusive program that students interviewed said would be convenient.

Launched Oct. 1, the application – called iStanford – currently offers users a wide range of options, including the ability to add or drop courses from their schedules, track the campus shuttles in real time and perform a number of other tasks generally limited to secure campus networks.

“Mobile devices are an integral part of life for people on campus, both students and faculty,” Beykpour said in an interview Monday. “We wanted to create a software that fosters that and makes that atmosphere more productive in terms of the university.”

While some Yale students have not explicitly expressed a great demand for a similar application, others acknowledged that they would not mind the extra convenience.

“I used to do everything on my iPhone –

e-mail, find my classes, check the dining hall menus,” said Matthew Gottesdiener ’12, a former iPhone owner. “If there could have been a button to bring me straight to SIS, that would have been nice to have.”

Beykpour said the idea for the Stanford application arose from a collaboration between his team and University Registrar Thomas Black and Director of Student Affairs Information Systems Tim Flood. The two administrators, both iPhone users, said they were looking to transform the ways university services were offered, and saw Beykpour, an authorized Apple representative and founder of the web development company TerriblyClever Design, as the perfect opportunity.

“We wanted to orient our services to tools that students would find more congenial to use,” Flood said. “Rather than us defining what student services should be, we wanted the students to design them.”

On a campus that is heavily populated by iPhone users, the demand for the application was overwhelming, according to Pablo Jablonski, a Stanford student who worked on the application’s development. After one month, iStanford had been downloaded 11,000 times. (Stanford has a total of approximately 18,000 graduate and undergraduate students.)

Positive feedback encouraged the team to expand; through Beykpour’s company TerriblyClever Design, the students are now focused on bringing an equivalent of iStanford to other universities.

“We’re not just students making stuff for other Stanford students,” Beykpour said. “Every school should have this.”

Yale Registrar Jill Carlton said she was not aware of any plans for an iYale application anytime soon. But despite a lack of an equivalent program, Yale is not completely devoid of technological services for students on the go.

Holly Parker, director of Yale Sustainable Transportation Systems, said that Yale offers a real-time shuttle tracker for cell phones, similar to one of the amenities of iStanford. Downloadable on the Yale shuttle Web site, the vehicle locator allows bus patrons with web-enabled phones to see where the bus is located on a campus map. Those with incompatible cell phones can still receive text messages detailing the bus’s whereabouts.

“We’ve had this service for a few years now actually,” said Erin Sturgis-Pascale, Parker’s assistant and Ward 14 alderwoman. “But I’m not really sure how many students employ it.”

Caroline Elenowitz ’12 said she does not see a pressing need for such services on a daily basis.

“If someone was taking the same bus everyday, the bus comes relatively at the same time,” she said. “I could see how it would be useful, however, if you had to go on a bus somewhere that you didn’t usually go.”

Many students interviewed said an application similar to iStanford would be very convenient, but a number of them also said they did not have iPhones.

Comments

  • '11

    Even a Yale version of the "2009 Unofficial Harvard Guide" for the i-phone would be good to have. My brother uses it a lot - with links to stores, restaurants, party sites, hotels, museums and other attractions in the Cambridge/Boston vicinity. Its free.

  • Anonymous

    The shuttle tracker is very useful. I don't see why that and other stuff couldn't be integrated into an app. However, given the recession, I don't think it is worth it unless a student or someone does it for VERY cheap or free.