App designed for Sakai access to arrive soon


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Photo by Michelle Klejmont |

Soon Rutgers students will have access to Sakai straight from their phone an iOS app designed specifically for using the Rutgers site.

The app was created this year by Alastair Hendricks, co-founder of Tiger Bytes, and his team, operating from Cape Town, South Africa. The Android app will be available for use after a few fixtures in early December, Hendricks said.

“I used to be a student at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. I got frustrated with there being no app for their Sakai and developed one in 2013, which is used by over 20,000 students at the University,” Hendricks said.

Then he started a company called Tiger Bytes in 2013, a student-run company comprised of students form multiple universities around Cape Town.

Tiger Bytes' aim is to revolutionize the learning experience by producing e-learning products, according to their website. 

The company uses swift programming language for iOS development and Java programming language for Android, Hendricks said.

In 2015, Hendricks launched "Universe," an app to connect students to their universities, enabling them to access their online course content on the go, according to their website. 

Universe is an app that can work at any university or school that uses Sakai, Hendricks said. It can support 40 learning institutions worldwide, which is expected to double in January 2016. 

“Currently we are running the pilot with a handful of South African and U.S. universities in order to offer the best experience,” Hendricks said. “Accessing learning materials should be as simple as everything else in your daily life and yet it isn’t. We want to change that."

Rutgers and New York University were included in their pilots in order to better understand the needs of students in a U.S. context and hope that the University Office of Information Technology would help support applications like these, Hendricks said.

Some NYU students have said they enjoyed the app and recommended improvements, Hendricks said. South African students highly support the app. Hendricks works to push out new changes every three weeks.

“For Rutgers, the app replicates the login details on Rutgers Sakai portal and we are trying to reach the Sakai team at Rutgers to get clarity on the login details for Rutgers as we don’t know anybody to provide us the details for testing," Hendricks said. “It makes developing (the app) a difficult job when we are across the globe and don’t have a contact there."

Prachi Biswal, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student, is an iOS user.

“I use the Rutgers app developed by the Rutgers University that has a link to the bus timings, myRutgers, Sakai, dining options, emergency services, news, events, student life, for schedule of classes for New Brunswick campus,” Biswal said. “Most of the time I use the app, but the take out menus are not always accurate. Bus timings also differ."

Virginia Quiros-Barboza, a School of Engineering sophomore, is a Windows user. She said she would love if Rutgers came out with a Windows version of their apps. 

Josh Vilson, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, is an android user.

“I use RU Direct and Rutgers University app. I am a commuter and I prefer RU direct as it is faster and I use it very often,” Vilson said. “RU direct has GPS locations for the bus positions, it has a map and shows you where the bus is going. It traces the whole route."

The Rutgers app is slow and the bus timings are sometimes inaccurate, Vilson said. 

“On the other hand the RU app has separate tabs and these contain important and useful information. Specially, for the first-year students. They can use the tabs to find offices, dining areas, events, etc. on campus and the app has the address of the locations as well," Vilson said. 


Chinmoyi Bhushan

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