Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon, uses technology to solve critical social issues in the areas of sustainability, education, and health care.
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The Thinkfinity Community abounds with resources and enthusiastic conversations between educators, but was only available to users on a full-fledged web browser. Given that teachers are often on the go, the Verizon Foundation wished to provide the benefits of the site to a mobile audience. The mobile experience needed to be available on multiple platforms within 5 months.
SolutionSet worked with the Verizon Foundation to determine the key use cases for a mobile community of educators—such as accessing bookmarked resources and asking quick questions. The team refined these use cases by way of flow charts, prototypes, and high-fidelity visual comps.
Concurrently, the technical team determined that the mobile experience would be developed using a hybrid technology stack—which can also be described as "web guts, native wrapper”. The hybrid approach allows mobile web sites and applications to be built just once using standard web technology—HTML5, JQuery Mobile, and CSS3—and then be deployed to multiple platforms as a native app using a "wrapper" tool. This technical approach allowed the team to complete both iOS and Android apps within the tight timeline.
The mobile apps were recently added to the Android Marketplace, the Verizon V Cast Marketplace, and the Apple App Store. The effort to develop and deploy on the second platform, iOS, was just 17% of the effort required to develop the initial application on Android.
Early reports indicate that community members have successfully adopted the mobile apps and are using them to communicate more frequently and to access resources. The positive benefits to users of the new apps are perhaps best described by Al Browne, the Verizon Foundation Vice President of Education and Technology: “Mobile media is taking education beyond classroom walls. With our community app, our members can access their professional network everywhere from the teacher’s lounge to the line at the grocery store.”