𝐁𝐘 𝐉𝐎𝐒𝐇𝐔𝐀 𝐁𝐀𝐍𝐀𝐓𝐄
For so long, the BU students, faculty members, and registrars are constantly experiencing troubles when accessing the student portal or the Online Registration System (ORS) to view grades, evaluate teaching personnel, and access Certificates of Registration (COR) on top of hacking incidents and cyber-attacks.
In almost a year of a collaborative effort through planning, preparation, and testing, the BU Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO) finally releases the first-ever application that can be used by all BU student which will cater to the scholastic records of the students on the touch of their fingertips on February 11.
The app’s humble beginning started as an undergraduate capstone project of three graduates of Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (BSIT) namely Kenneth Alberto, Ian Andrew S. Mayor, and Frances Mikhaela B. Quiapos and was entitled “BU student portal: a cross-platform mobile application for access of scholastic records for Bicol University.” However, the application was continued, developed, and deployed by the ICTO through its resident programmers Mr. Alberto and Mr. Mayor headed by ICTO’s Director Dr. Aris Ordoñez, and the Project Manager Ms. Majel Belarma.
Justine Baldovino, an alumnus of Bicol University College of Science (BUCS) under Bachelor of Science in Computer Science (BSCS) and the Junior Programmer of the ICTO, aired that the iBU Student Portal is the pride of the institution as it is a hundred-percent BU-made.
“It is an application that we can call our own. So developed siya ng BUeño, designed by BUeño tapos deployed sa institution na ito. Knowing that it is made through the hard work of BUeños is more than enough to call it special, but there’s still more about this application,” Baldovino said.
He further added that the application will be much more accessible and handier compared to the student portal which has received countless backlashes because of its frequent crashing and inaccessibility during enrollment and viewing of grades.
The app only requires 25 megabytes (MB) of storage space and an internet connection with no other app permissions being asked and it is totally free of charge. The ICTO said that this will provide more convenience on the part of the students, especially with easier access to more scholarly materials and information such as student profiles, academic grades, evaluation, and class schedules, and it also comes with links to other online services of BU.“We bring it na magkaroon ng application na pwedeng maaccess ng students with their mobile phones. It’s like a companion na pwede mo ma-access anytime and anywhere, as long as mayroon kang internet,” Baldovino added.
Overcoming challenges, future improvements
According to Ordoñez, despite the multiple delays in launching the app due to the continuous improvements, repair, testing, and compliance with some documents asked by the Google Playstore, the app finally made its way to the mobile phones of the students.“…interconnected system ‘yan, ibig sabihin kahit tapos na yung system nila, hindi nila maa-upload [yung data] kung yung database ng ORS is hindi pa namin naa-upload sa cloud. So actually, tapos na nila yung system, ang problema, dependent sya sa information na dinadala ng ORS, yun ang dapat muna namin muna malagay sa cloud kasi pag nilagay namin yung system dun na wala yung database, wala siyang huhugutin na data na ididisplay, wala dun yung data mo. The system is there but the information is not available and hindi sya accessible,” he stated.
Baldovino also shared some upcoming features and innovations that will be introduced in the iBU app in the future such as the pre-registration for enrollment, which is done before through google forms, and external links, improving its connections and making it available in the app store for IOS users.“Still, we are doing our best para ma-deploy para lahat ng students, the rich and the poor, naka iPhone o hindi, maka-access doon sa app,” he said.
He also added that no money was spent on developing this app since the ICTO’s Resident Programmers were paid to create essential and useful applications that can be used by BUenos.“Siguro ang ginastos namin is the time spent since over a year na din…labanan lang talaga ng time, oras at utak [ang puhunan] kasi di mo talaga ini-expect na super hard ang pag-develop kada feature may kailangan palitan,” he said.
He is also confident that because of this development, the traffic jam on the BU website will lessen during the enrolment period since the data is already in the cloud, and as a result, both the app and website will run smoothly unlike in the past experiences of the students.
During the app’s sneak peek and dry run, ICTO invited some students to participate in the Beta testing of the application which was first tried by some USC and CSC officers on November 15, 2022, which served as the pre-testing of the developers to further enhance the app by taking the ratings and feedbacks of the participants.
Johnel Geneblazo, a fourth-year Bachelor of Science Major in Chemistry student and the USC Auditor shared his experience as one of the first-hand users of the iBU app during its beta testing.“I found it so easy to use and navigate…the app is very promising as it is pleasing and easy to follow compared to what we have been using. I'm really looking forward to the launching and success of the app as we were told that it will lessen the struggles that we have been encountering with the current portal such as the traffic,” said Geneblazo.
Meanwhile, a second-year Bachelor of Science in Computer Science (BSCS) student, Yna Gabrielle Foronda aired her thoughts about the iBU app in terms of accessibility, responsiveness, design, and navigability.“While trying out the app, I thought that having an application in the making was a pleasant surprise knowing how accessibility is definitely an issue when it comes to BU's online services. The iBU app is a good step in my opinion besides possibly improving the servers and actual system. The current ORS has many flaws and the iBU app surpasses it in terms of responsiveness, design, and navigability,” Foronda stated.
She also highly recommends the app to other students because of its useful features, as it saves time and internet since it does not require you to click different sites and wait until the servers respond.
The app has now a total of 5,000 downloads on the google play store and a combined rating of 4.2 from 70 reviewers a day after its official release on Saturday.
A 3-star rating and positive feedback on the iBU app were made by Ezekiel Henry Jr. through his comment in the Google Play Store as he commended the app.“Because it is still, I assume in development stages, all features are not yet available. However, this app is promising for this allows access to the BU Student Portal in such a faster way compared to the BU University website,” he wrote.
Joshua Banate is a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology student at the BU College of Social Sciences and Philosophy. He first joined the Universitarian in 2021 as a staff writer and then as a Public Relations Staff in 2022 and was assigned to cover Student and University.