Students develop apps for campus life
Updated: 2014-01-21 02:28
By Zhao Xinying (China Daily)
Developing software that has practical applications to campus life and helps students better allocate their time and resources has become increasingly popular among college students.
Pu Lei, a senior physical education major at Neijiang Normal University, Sichuan province, developed a smartphone application called the "truants' assistant". The application, as its name indicates, is an online social platform that helps students find others to attend classes for them.
By typing in the time, place and name of the class, as well as the rewards, students can issue a "substitute wanted" post on the platform. Those offering to take classes for the truants can leave messages and receive rewards after being selected and taking the class.
Almost 300,000 students from more than 2,000 colleges in China have registered for the application.
Pu, the developer, said the idea of developing such an application came from his own needs.
"I have a strong interest in information technology, but sometimes I have to take classes that are unattractive to me. So I decided to skip these classes and do some things that I believe are more interesting and valuable, such as programming," the 22-year-old said.
However, the teachers of these classes usually call the roll, and those who are regularly absent may fail the subject at the end of the semester.
Pu developed the application in the hope he could find a substitute to attend the classes he wants to skip.
With the help of several friends, Pu launched his app at the beginning of the 2013 fall semester. It has been welcomed by college students around the country.
Pu is not alone. In 2012, Xie Mengfei, a junior studying information security at Wuhan University, Hubei province, developed a plug-in that enables couples who have split up to completely delete each other's information on Renren, China's Facebook-like service.
Before that, Xie also established a platform called "Wuhan University campus helper" on WeChat, one of China's most popular social networking tools, through which students at the university can check practical information such as test scores and curriculum schedules.
The concept is mushrooming. In colleges in Guangdong province, Fujian province, Chongqing and Shanghai, there are also applications, platforms or plug-ins designed or developed by students to make campus life more convenient or enjoyable.
Cai Yanhou, a researcher of higher education with Central South University, said spontaneous creativity of the type used in developing these apps should be encouraged.
"College students know themselves best, and therefore the tools developed by these students can meet the practical demands of their alumni and make campus life more comfortable and colorful," he said.
Cai also believes it is a good thing for the developers themselves.
"The creative spirit and hands-on capability they exhibit in these endeavors will expand to other aspects of their life, and will benefit them in their future study and work," he said.
Shang Zichao, a sophomore at Shaanxi University of Technology, registered on Pu's "truants' assistant" app. Although he has never dared use it to skip classes, Shang, who majors in computer science, still admires Pu and his idea.
"As a computer major student myself, I greatly admire Pu because of his fantastic idea and technology," Shang said.
Shang said he had learned software development and, inspired by Pu, he had tried to develop something on his own, but failed.
"It's not as easy as it seems," Shang said. "In this sense, Pu Lei and his apps are great."
But Pu is not satisfied with what he has achieved. He is considering upgrading the "truants' assistant" app, to not only help students find substitutes to attend classes, but also enable communication about other topics on campus.
He has also founded a software company, together with friends in Chengdu, and has been trying to develop new software, such as an earthquake warning application. Although he encountered difficulties such as inadequate technology and a shortage of funds, Pu said he will not give up.
"I love developing software, more than anything else," he said. "Even if our company doesn't survive, I will try to stay in the software industry after graduation, for example, to work for other established software companies."
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