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iSchool students present projects for social web, mobile web technologies

December 17, 2010

Margaret Spillett
(315) 443-1069

Nine teams of Syracuse University School of Information Studies (iSchool) students presented class projects to a standing-room-only audience in the Innovation Studio Thursday, Dec. 9, as part of their final projects for both IST 400/600, “Social Web Technologies,” and IST 400/600, “Mobile Application Development.” The courses, taught by Ph.D. student and adjunct professor Keisuke Inoue and assistant professor Carlos Caicedo, respectively, had the students create working applications for both entrepreneurial endeavors and real-world clients.

The first set of presentations featured Inoue’s “Social Web Technologies” class, which was structured using what Inoue referred to as the “Mr. Miyagi Method.” (The fictional Mr. Miyagi builds the “Karate Kid,” Danny LaRusso, into a world-class athlete by concentrating his student’s training on developing basic muscles and moves.) Similarly, students in the iSchool course focused on the fundamentals, architecture and programming elements, while also defining the social web.

“The crucial aspect of social web technologies is that they incorporate input from a mass of people,” says Inoue, who then listed Amazon product reviews, Facebook and certain search engines as examples of the social web.

Inoue then had the students apply the fundamentals by developing complete applications using the open-source web framework Ruby on Rails. Then they synthesized the entire process by designing and developing their own applications, which were on display during the presentations.

The five applications included: CollabArt, OpenQuad, BookRex, Share the Fare and Night Life. At the end of the presentations, the audience voted on which application they liked the best and thought was most promising.

  • Virginia Li ’11, Shu Zhang G’11, and Jianzhau (Will) Liu G’11 developed Share the Fare, the winning idea inspired by a bulletin board in the Schine Student Center that advertises for rides in and outside of Syracuse.
  • CollabArt, which came in second place and was developed by Benjamin Redfield ’12, Shamel Schand G’11, Erica Morrow ’11 and Putman Davis Jr. ’11, allows artists to upload images and progressively add to each image, creating works of art in stages.
  • Brian Weinreich ’10, Brian Taylor ’12 and Jack Wright G’12 developed OpenQuad, a website that allows users to post campus events and creates a campus-wide calendar.
  • Mark Thorson G’11 and Natalie van Roggen G’11 created a book recommendation site called Book Rex.
  • Nightlife, developed by Jenny Kim ’11, Kevin Dong G’11, and Matt O’Donnell G’11, allowed users to announce parties, but also rate venues and find DJs, with the underlying premise that it could provide an alternative to fraternity parties and subsequently limit underage alcohol use.

“I consider my course, “Social Web Technologies,” as a gateway to, or a place to synthesize, the various tech-oriented courses we offer—database administration, web development, data mining, natural language processing, etc.,” Inoue says. “And my course emphasizes the hands-on experience and making students’ ideas come true.”

While the format of the “Social Web Technologies” presentations was informal, the students in Caicedo’s “Mobile Application Development” class presented PowerPoint slideshows detailing the requirements of their projects, as well as the solutions they implemented for real-world clients: General Electric, New York Creative Core and local graphic designer Jill Peterson. The students created four different kinds of mobile applications on the Android platform.

“There’s a lot of support with Android architecture to develop a cool app,” Caicedo says, adding the Gartner Group has predicted that the Android platform will soon overtake Blackberry as a leading mobile operating system.

The first two presentations showcased apps for General Electric: IT Security ToolKit and Mobile Presenter:

  • Ryan Gillum ’11, Jenny Kim ’11, Baloko Makala, Colby Morgan G’12 and John Wright G’12 worked on the IT Security Toolkit, an app for GE employees containing a random password generator, technology security RSS feed and location-based travel tips.
  • Mobile Presenter, created by Samuel Feder ’11, Justin Kline ’12, Bumkwan Seo ’12 and Xu Geng G’12, parsed the XML data from PowerPoint presentations so that presenters could read their notes and time their presentations from their mobile phone.

The third application, Bike Tag, developed by Jennifer Powless ’11, Nicolas Provo ’11and Xiang Wang G’12 for local freelance designer Jill Peterson, was a mobile social network for cyclists. Users could upload their locations, arrange meetings, report accidents, comment on the safety of infrastructure and get turn-by-turn audio directions while biking.

Soo Jeon ’12, Christopher Sansone ‘11, Casey Trumble ’11, James Bell G’11 and Qing Jie Zhao developed the final third mobile application for New York Creative Core. The app listed Creative Core businesses with contact information, as well as allowed users to create lists of their favorite businesses and see which businesses were close to them based on GPS location.

Overall, Caicedo was pleased with his class and their work, as well as the support he got from the iSchool staff in implementing the course. The school acquired Android phones and implemented virtual machines so the students could work on their projects remotely, as well as test their developing applications.

“The presentations showcased the capabilities of our students and the desire of the iSchool to embrace and work with new technologies,” he says. “It also highlighted the iSchool’s efforts to collaborate with local businesses and big corporations on projects that benefit them and the students.”

To watch the mobile apps presentations, visit

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