I received an email recently from an Oklahoma teacher interested in creating a mobile app for a summer conference which would work on different kinds of smartphones including iPhones, Android phones, and Blackberry phones. Here’s my reply. What would you add to this or change in my reply?

If you’re looking to share information with teachers attending a conference, my first suggestion is to create a mobile-friendly website which teachers can access and use on a variety of devices instead of a true “app.” My top two specific recommendations are to either create a mobile-friendly wiki using Google Sites, or a mobile-friendly theme on a WordPress blog. In the latter case, this can be a free blog on WordPress.com or a self-hosted WordPress blog. Instructions about how to make a Google Site mobile-device friendly are on the post, “Optimize a Google Site for Mobile Accessibility and Metrics.” Resources for making WordPress sites mobile friendly are on this wiki page.

If your conference has some budget resources to use for a mobile application, rather than create your own app I’d recommend checking out Grupio. Their app is free, but your conference pays a fee for each person who downloads and uses the app. You can use their web-based tools to update your conference session content, and every time people access the app they have an opportunity to update their session info. People can build their own session schedules with events they want to attend, and presenters can also upload/share presentation links/resources. It’s a very slick solution and the one used by our recent OTA/EncycloMedia Conference in Oklahoma City. I was very impressed with it and pleased with the performance of the app.

If you REALLY want to create your own true, mobile app, the best resource I’ve found so far and dabbled with when it comes to iOS app creation is Buzztouch. Jarrod Robinson, a PE teacher in Australia, has created several apps for iOS and has used Buzztouch for some of them. If you want an app actually listed and available via the Apple App Store you have to register as a developer and pay a $99 fee. Buzztouch will give you everything you need to create an app for both iOS and Android, but you can’t submit to Apple without a developer account. No registration fee is required to register your app on the Android Marketplace and make it available. I have spent a few hours working on a Buzztouch app but haven’t finalized it or published it.

There are lots of other services “out there” now to help people create apps but those are my best recommendations. Good luck to you and please let me know what you end up going with!

'The App Store' photo (c) 2011, Glen Bledsoe - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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2 Responses to Want a Mobile App or Mobile Friendly Website for an Upcoming Conference?

  1. Kern Kelley says:

    Hey Wes, I’d add Widget Box to that list. It’s only a mobile app maker, so works on iOS, Android, whatever and no developer requirements (but you have to have connectivity of course) and it can pull data from existing sources like Google Calendars, RSS feeds, etc. Here’s a link to an app one of my students created for a conference last year: http://wbxapp.com/summer-tech 

  2. Wesley Fryer says:

    Thanks Kern, Widget Box looks great! The app I worked on building in BuzzTouch was basically an RSS feed organizer and sharer, so Widget Box might even be a better solution for me in that situation. Your students have so many opportunities to be creative! Thanks for the share.

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