University app-creating software project mappademia wins major development funding


A University app-creating software project is one of five winners in the JISC Summer of Student Innovation. mappademia, devised by Matt Stallard, a doctoral student in American Studies, has secured a total of £5,000 funding and the chance to develop the app with JISC, the UK higher education, further education and skills sectors’ not-for-profit organisation for digital services and solutions.

mappademia will be a piece of software which allows any group of researchers and students to easily create their own map-based mobile apps without any previous programming experience, to distribute research and information, to gather information from students and the public, and potentially generate apps for local galleries, museums, archives, charities, and community groups, then freely distribute them through the app store.

It will allow any smartphone user to collect notes, photographs, video, audio, and other data whilst in the field or around the city, tag it to the geographic location it was collected, and then upload it to a central database to allow the creation of large interactive datasets. It will also allow students, researchers, lecturers, or public project creators to generate their own projects with a defined set of data requirements and invite students, colleagues, or even members of the public to collect data for them using their smartphones.

Matthew said: “We are hoping that the product will have a range of uses as wide as the imagination of the project creators: from geography students and lecturers devising and completing their own fieldwork projects to archaeologists asking colleagues on the ground in remote locations around the world to survey sites and upload to a central database; from community arts projects asking young people to build up interactive maps of art in their local area to the student on her gap year creating an interactive map of photographs and stories from her travels.”

Andy McGregor, deputy chief innovation officer at Jisc, was on the judging panel. He said: “The competition really does show that students are best placed to address education sector issues, and their innovative ideas are perfect for supporting learning, teaching or research”

The Summer of Student Innovation is in its fourth year and is managed by Jisc. It is a co-design project with Research Libraries UK (RLUK), Russell Universities’ Group of IT Directors (RUGIT), the Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL), Universities and Colleges Information Systems Association (UCISA) and the Association for Learning Technology (ALT).