Crowdsourcing: How to Make Students Part of the Mobile Solution


  • Matt Willmore, University of Notre Dame
  • Greg Mena, Cal State Northridge
  • Deone Zell, Cal State Northridge

Crowdsourcing Your Content

  • Think of both tech and non-tech ways members of the campus community can contribute
  • Think in terms of ownership:  we want the entire community to feel like it’s their app, not just an app for where they work/learn
  • If they own it, they will use it and provide lots of feedback

VisitND Challenge

  • Stewart told me:  “You should have a student tour contest!”
  • Partnered with EVP, SAP (vendor) and Modo Labs, plus $4,500 in prizes lined up.
  • Built student interest with a ladder of engagement:  get people excited.
  • Each team had to go through a mandatory 1-hour meeting (over dinner with pizza) to hand out credentials and walk them through Publisher, adding videos, where to check out cameras, how to use NC photo collections, etc.
  • Teams had 30 days to build their tour
  • Judging committee chose the top six, which went into the ND mobile app
  • Collected public feedback and committee ranked the top 6
  • Two biology majors won the event!

Crowdsourcing Your Content

  • Think about how the campus community can be involved in the app building process
  • Liberally borrow other schools’ (and apps’) ideas
  • Find opportunities to solve “information pain points” on campus with your app

CSUN – Story of AppJam

  • Desire for instructional apps on campus
  • App Dev too expensive to outsource
  • Valuable skill for students to learn
  • Potential jobs await!

AppJam 2015

  • Based our event off UC Irvine’s event
  • Team challenge:  3+ members, cross-disciplinary
  • Two categories: student life, student finances
  • Open to all students
  • 3 milestones:  idea, wireframe/storyboard, video
  • Showcase Event

Sample App Projects

  • Book reselling
  • Carpooling
  • Campus Restaurant Rewards CArds
  • Tutor Finding App
  • Social Networking

Curriculum Apps

  • We hired three of the students who participated in the AppJam2015 to help with app development
  • Instructional designer works with the professor to determine what the student learning outcomes are, and from that determine what the outcomes for the application are.
  • Tree of Life:  app that helps bio students learn evolutionary trees
  • Elite Gene Team:  a difficult quiz app that teaches Mendelian Genetics
  • Nematode Classification:  an app that helps students identify nematodes under a microscope; there’s a companion faculty app that allows professors to view quiz answers.

AppJam 2016

  • One main category:  solve a problem on campus or the community
  • This year, we have a “popular vote” sponsored by the Associated Students (hearts)
  • Scaling app development by surfacing talent from:   faculty, students, the campus, the voting public


  • What’s your code maintenance strategy?  We use BitBucket
  • What about licensing of IP?  Form of credit and form of revenue depends on the case.  So far, no faculty have stepped up to claim ownership of their app.
  • Are these all written in Swift?  Yes.
  • Did you consider security?  No, the apps were judged on innovation, relevance, market potential, user experience



By Paul Schantz

CSUN Director of Web & Technology Services, Student Affairs. husband, father, gamer, part time aviator, fitness enthusiast, Apple fan, and iguana wrangler.

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