HSE Art and Design School Students Develop Crowswap App for Exchanging Minors
Third-year Design and Coding students Valeria Insafutdinova, Grigory Narinsky and Polina Filacheva have created Crowswap, an app that allows students from different HSE programmes to swap minors and apply for transfers. The app also informs them on where to send all the necessary papers.
One of the assignments in the second-module curriculum was to create a mobile app. Valeria, Grigory and Polina discussed the task and realized that the process of swapping minors at HSE University is not convenient enough. Currently, in order to change your minor, you would have to find a student who wants to enrol in your minor, fill in an application, and get it approved by the minor head. Students decided to integrate these processes in an app in order to facilitate the swap process. They also developed the app identity and logo.
Minors are compulsory part of the curriculum for each undergraduate HSE student. Unlike majors — professional disciplines that serve as the basis for students’ professional competencies — minors are blocks of four related courses in an area of studies that is not part of the student’s major. Minors are taken during the second and third years of study and are meant to expand the students’ outlook and to provide them with additional related knowledge. Students can change minors after each semester, but doing so today is rather complicated, since there is a limited time window to find someone who would agree to make the swap.
‘During the second module, we came up with the app concept and the first mechanisms, designed the wireframes and started coding. It was important to think about how students will communicate in the app, learn about minors, and track the exchange status. We suggest a variety of exchange statuses: for example, what if a student changes their mind and decides to cancel the swap, or what happens with a student’s account as they proceed from the second to the third year of study, or how do students get details about the minors. We had to address all these issues in order to make the app easy to use,’ said Grigory Narinsky.
The creators also decided that the service would have no passwords: from a technical viewpoint, this solves the problem of big data storage. To log into the app, one would need to enter their university email, and then use the authentication code sent to their HSE email. As they log into the app, the student would immediately see the swap offers and will be able to get the details by clicking on the relevant offer.
Of course, requirements set by the university administration were taken into account when the app was developed. Minors can be exchanged only during the first two weeks of the semester, so the system works as follows: while search for interesting minors, swap offers, and communication are available throughout the year, the exchange itself is allowed by the app only during the certain periods as determined by the HSE administration.
The Crowswap app also includes communication option: it will have its own chat, which takes away the need to use another messenger that’s not part of the minor exchange context. Initially, the students created only an iOS version of the app, but in the fourth module, they started working on a web version as well.
Crowswap App screencast
‘We had a desire to make something truly useful. We were looking for problems that needed to be solved, and the theme of minor exchange seemed the most interesting and relevant to the students. As we were developing the mechanics and interactions in our service, we faced lots of difficulties and every time, had to clarify the exchange rules or other technical information. We are going to launch a separate platform, which, if necessary, may become part of the HSE University digital ecosystem,’ said Valeria Insafutdinova.
In summer, Valeria, Grigory and Polina will continue working on the project so that it can be implemented in time for the new academic year and so that students can start using it to swap minors.
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