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University of Concepción case study

Complete Mobile University Workflow

INTRODUCTION

UdeConce - University of Concepción case studyThe University of Concepción enjoys an excellent reputation as one of the most esteemed private universities in Chile. This university is also strongly focused on modern technologies, and is one of the largest educational institutions in this country. Concepción University is a forerunner in successful student adoption of its online university ecosystem. The online ecosystem generated a user-friendly, convenient process through its mobile application to enhance the student learning process.

UdeCMovil is the name of this learning app, which can be accessed from the Play Market and the AppStore, ensuring students can now rapidly organize their learning processes. Since its inception, students have found the app to be an invaluable tool in their study experience. All UdeC information can be accessed from the app, and push notifications inform students of their grades immediately these become available. Furthermore, teachers send study materials, and other important notices to their classes via the UdeCMovil app.

CHALLENGE

Erich Gruttner, the project lead of UdeCMovil app shares some of his recollections, ‘We needed to find a way to significantly improve student communications, which combined a dynamic, stable, and secure approach to meet necessary requirements. The primary factors, which concerned the development team were security, data management, and scalability, because we knew large numbers of our students would be using the app simultaneously, and these numbers were set to grow exponentially”.

SOLUTION

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UdeCMovil comprises flexible functionality, which facilitates data flow, and exchange in real time, including Mapping and Push Notifications. These features offer students grade updates, and navigation for the three campuses of Concepción, Chillán, and Los Ángeles, all of which are supported by Backendless. Student grades, marks, and test results are uploaded by lecturers ensuring these are received immediately through push notifications.

Further functions include:

  • University news about activities and events
  • Scheduling of assignments
  • Textbook library searches
  • Documents exchange
  • The Refectory’s online food menu

As a backend server, Backendless manages all the internal and external requests in a streamlined manner. ‘Our UdeCMovil app is linked to Backendless, which then connects to our internal servers through Web Services via our Firewall on an independent equipment. Backendless manages all our functions such as ticket control for food, the library, financial information, grading, and more, while TLS is used to manage connections’, said Erich.

Our IT University team is continuously attentive to enhancing this functionality by adding useful new features. This year will be focused on building new features to help our lecturers, such as image shares, and live streaming.

Other apps have also been developed, using Backendless as a foundation. These include:

  • The Parking UdeC, which assists both students, and security guards in identifying available parking space on campuses.
  • UdeClickers, which is the app for our electronic voting forms. When lecturers need feedback for research, students can indicate their preferences by voting online. This app uses WebSocket.
  • UdeCinscribe conveniently offers students the opportunity to select their major and minor subjects online prior to the start of each academic year.

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RESULTS

  • Close to three million push notifications are delivered to our students
  • Students have downloaded over 150,000 of our apps via the AppStore and Play Market
  • Daily users on iOS are recorded at between 5000-9000, and from 7000-12000 on Android
  • 99,8% of the students have tried our apps
  • UdeCMovil is complemented by 4 additional apps

We reached out to Erich Gruttner with more questions about the integration process and overall experience with Backendless:

Erich, can you please share some most important statistics on the app usage?

There are 25,000 registered app users and the number is growing. The app processes several million push notifications on the monthly basis.

Could you tell us more about how does the app work exactly, which functions do you use most and what for?

We have a bunch of apps to satisfy the information needs of our students. Backendless is our MBaaS. The most important app is UdeCMovil that helps the students with his grades. For example, they receive their grades via Push Notifications. Also, the can access materials and important information that the teacher uploads in the platform.

How do you manage data, what practices do you use to secure the sensitive data and are there any access levels?

The app connects with Backendless and Backendless connects to our internal servers via Firewall on a separate machine.
Also, we use TLS for our connections.

How long did you spend on learning Backendless and how would you rate the overall experience utilizing it?

2 months approx. We’re very happy with the product. We’re discovering new features everyday.

Are you going to use Backendless in your future projects, would you recommend it? Why?

We’re already using Backendless for many other projects, and I like the support very much.

Did you manage to cut costs on your development using the Backendless platform?

By creating new projects, we add new expenses to our budget, but I believe it’s worth it. Our students are happy.

Are you satisfied with our support team? Why?

Yes, they’ve helped us a lot when we started. They performed some tweaks and improvements and now the system is running smooth and stable.

How many students does the application support?

25.000 but every year we have 5.000 new students every year.

Does the application integrate with some internal systems at the University? Please describe how?

The app connects with many internal systems of the University using web services. From the system that manages grades to the system that control tickets for food, library, and financial information.

Why did the University decide to use mBaaS system like Parse and then Backendless for the app?

Parse was the most popular MBaas, but we started to search for an alternative. And we wanted a self-hosted solution. So Backendless comes handy!

What would you say to someone who is trying to decide between Parse Server and Backendless?

Money is a factor, but I believe if you are serious about your business you need to invest anyway. So, in that case, pay for Backendless and you will receive support, which is very important.

What are the reasons you decided to use Backendless Pro, the self-hosted version of our platform?

We needed a self-hosted solution. We couldn’t find another option with support and professional “look” on things we do care about among other products on the market.

What do you think other companies and universities are missing by not using mBaaS product? What are they missing without Backendless?

I think they are missing the opportunity of improving the communication with the students.