Inspect the Tech: FSUgo

Photo by Brad Leuchte

Sophomore Nathan McGowan-Gehan works 25 hours a week at a frozen yogurt shop in Wellesley.

To save some time, he catches a ride on the Ram Tram to the Union Avenue Parking lot, then hops in his car for his 3 p.m. shift.

“I get out of class at 2:20 p.m., so I have 40 minutes to make it from Framingham to Wellesley,” he said. 

McGowan-Gehan is always looking to find out if the Ram Tram is running late.

“I find myself looking up the Ram Tram schedule all the time,” McGowan Gehan said. It’s a 12-minute walk versus … a 5-minute drive.”     

When he isn’t preoccupied with writing scripts and editing photos for class, Raysam Donkoh- Halm, a sophomore, likes to hang out with friends, and like a lot of FSU students, would appreciate some extra moments in the day.

“I do keep pretty busy,” Donkoh-Halm said.

For most FSU students, every minute counts and the faster they can get things done the better. 

Enter FSUgo, Framingham State University’s mobile app, meant to provide students quicker access to important campus information and happenings.

Available on Android, iOS and the mobile web, FSUgo is geared towards a variety of different users.

From the active student trying to use the RAM TRAM tracker, to a prospective FSU attendee taking a quick virtual tour of the campus, FSUgo is all about giving students what they need on the go.

According to Marsha Bryan, director of administrative and student information systems,

“FSUgo provides a mobile experience for the students, faculty, staff, visitors and community to interact with the campus.”

Currently, FSUgo hosts a variety of features. Some of its most notable include the ability to check hours of the various eateries on campus, real time Ram Tram tracking and access to FSU’s various campus calendars to see when upcoming events are being held.

According to Bryan, upcoming features will allow students to add and drop classes straight from the app. Additionally, a future goal is to allow the app to cater to the user depending on whether they are  a student, faculty member or visitor.

By specifying the users’ role the app will show the user the most relevant information for them.

More long-term enhancements will most likely include real-time laundry and parking tracking tools, according to Bryan.

Framingham State contracted Modo Labs, a computer software company in Cambridge, to develop the app, said Bill Shew, administrative and student information systems coordinator and the project leader of FSUgo. The app runs on the open source platform Kurogo, he said.

Shew explained that by utilizing the Kurogo platform and Modo Lab’s various modules, app design templates and interface tools, he is easily able to port over information from various Framingham State websites and design interactive mobile-ready portions of the app.

Additionally, Rachel Lucking, assistant dean for campus engagement, has been working with Shew to bring additional functions to the app by speaking to a variety of different departments that could potentially find uses for it.   

“Bill explained to me how it worked and what the options are, and then what began next was I [started to] discuss with my colleagues across campus,” Lucking said.

Shew has worked with a number of departments in the past, to help create what he described as temporary modules for certain events on campus. 

“We can build out a little module just for Homecoming that has maybe the schedule for people, so they can have it with them on the go. We can take that down when it’s done and maybe [for] first-year students, you can have an area for them when they’re coming and give them some information,” Shew said.

Ben Trapanick, the director of first-year programs and Claire Ostrander, the director of Student Involvement and Leadership Development, collaborated with Shew last fall to help build out a section of the app that was dedicated to posting the Black and Gold Beginnings schedule for incoming first-year students.

“We put the schedule up there for that. It was day by day and it was really useful,” Trapanick said.

Ostrander has also worked with Shew to provide information and schedules for other events such as The Employment and Enjoyment Fair.

“We would send [Shew] the calendar or the content, and he would creatively be able to embed it into the FSUgo app,” Ostrander said. 

Recently, Shew worked with Lucking and Shanya Eddy, associate dean of admissions, to create a section of the app to accommodate accepted students during the Accepted Students Day Receptions on April 2 and April 9.

To accomplish this, Shew took elements from the Accepted Student Day handout and made it an interactive section of the mobile app.

Not only did the “module” have the schedule of events, it had links to a variety of other relevant information for students including links to FSU’s Facebook and Twitter feed, as well as a campus map.

Right now, student use of the app is mixed. Some don’t know the app even exists, while others find the app to be useful in helping them navigate college life.

Abby MacDonald, a sophomore, said, “We have an app? … I would probably use the app, but I didn’t even know we had one. Definitely need better advertising for it.”

Meghan Babb, a junior, wasn’t aware of the app’s existence but, after learning about it, saw its value for resident students. 

“I think it would be useful for students living on campus because it has all the information in one place, and it is an app, so it’s with you everywhere you go,” Babb said.

Tyler Cashin, a sophomore, used the app in the past when he lived on campus and used it to find dining common hours, Ram Tram times and the cafeteria menu.

He said he found it to be useful.

 Dan Costello, a senior, has the app installed on his phone and checks it from time to time. He encourages students to start using it.

“I wish students would utilize the app more and benefit from it more as it does do a lot and helps keep people informed with what is going on on the campus.”

Shew understands many students aren’t aware of the app’s existence but notes that it’s because the app hasn’t officially been launched. Once class registration is implemented into the app, Shew said an advertising campaign is part of FSUgo’s future.

Shew also notes they will be looking for user feedback to improve the app as time goes by. 

“Great feedback is always welcome,” Shew said. “It would be useless to build it without some sort of input or feedback from people and make the changes that would be useful for the people that are using it.” 

For now, Shew is gradually working with a number of departments to see how FSUgo could be utilized most effectively. 

“We’re slowly building it, adding things in,” Shew said.