I haven’t managed to find an official announcement of this yet, but it seems as if there’s a new addition to the Apple App Store in the form of a “Study at the OU” app: StudyAtOU.
So what does it do? Essentially, it seems to provide and app way in to the Open University course catalogue. Here’s the opening screen
(Err – wot? No OU logo? Is it not an *official* app then?! Though the iTunes does carry branding… If it is an official app, how well does it sit with OU ice/brand police guidelines, I wonder…?;-)
The app provides a convenient way of navigating through the OU’s course catalogue, providing a brief overview of subject areas:
and research degrees:
Clicking through on individual course links also leads through to a description of the corresponding course.
Looking through some of the descriptions, it seems as if there isn’t any information about forthcoming presentation dates, course fees, and other ‘administrative’ information (such as level information), nor does there appear to be a ‘click here to register’ option. (Hmm… I don’t think the OU course registration system accepts Paypal yet? If it did, I guess something like the PayPal Mobile Payments library would allow this to be integrated into the StudyAtOU app?)
If you want to share a link to a course with other people, there are several ways of doing this:
Facebook and Twitter based sharing requires you share access to those services, of course. Here’s the prompt you get when you try to share a link using Facebook:
and the corresponding prompt from Twitter:
(By the by, seeing this app reminds me of my old, old WAP demo for navigating Relevant Knowledge short course descriptions… TSCP Experimental WAP Service;-)
Also in passing, I asked where the data that feeds the app come from. It seems to be an XML source that also feeds the data.open.ac.uk Linked Data store, rather than being fed from the Linked Data Store itself. Whilst the Linked Data store was presumably not available whilst the app was being developed, it would be nice to think that services such as the app might call on the datastore and actually start using the data contained within it.
One thing worth noting about the app is that it is not self-contained. The qualification, subject area and course descriptions are all pulled in live from the web, which means if you lose your network connection, you get this:
In that sense, the StudyAtOU app is therefore a hybrid app, with a small amount of offline functionality, complemented by network sourced content. I guess there’s a trade-off between going on here between connectivity/bandwidth requirements and memory requirements/app size.
If the app was displaying course start dates/pricing, then I could see why there might be a good reason for the app to want to display ‘live’ data, but for course descriptions? (I guess you could argue that you always want the catalogue to only list current courses, but that could easily be managed with a time to live field associated with each course on the app, given the review dates for the expiry of courses are well known?)
Anyway, the app’s there, and usable, and available for download, and offers a great starting point…but will it be allowed to evolve, I wonder, in an agile fashion, now that it’s there…?
PS just because, I wondered where http://www.open.ac.uk/studyatou might point to. At the moment, it seems to resolve to http://www3.open.ac.uk/study/explained/how-do-i-apply.shtml:
The top-level “Study at OU” web presence, and the one you get to from the OU website’s Study at the OU top level navigation actually seems to have its home at http://www3.open.ac.uk/study/. Just sayin’…;-)