The Harvard Alumni Association, in conjunction with the Harvard Office of Public Affairs and Communications, has released an application for web-enabled smartphones to help College alumni navigate this week’s reunion events.
The free “Harvard Reunions” tool allows users to browse the reunion schedule, check-in at events on campus, network with fellow classmates, share reunion photos, view the campus map, and receive real-time announcements from the HAA.
“We want this mobile event-management application to enhance annual reunion events that are run by the Harvard Alumni Association,” said HAA Deputy Executive Director Philip Lovejoy. “We designed this app to help reunion attendees re-engage with the campus and re-connect with classmates.”
The application is also integrated with popular social networking services such as Twitter and Facebook, which will allow alumni to communicate more freely with peers and the HAA.
Perry S. Hewitt ’87-88, Director of Digital Communications and Communications Services at Harvard, stated that the app “has a huge opportunity to transform [the alumni’s] experiences and enhance the offline world.”
The development of the tool, which occurred between January and April, was supported by University President Drew G. Faust in a move that Hewitt said “has driven home the importance of innovating.”
Hewitt added that the app is built on an open source framework, thus allowing others to develop similar modules.
HAA advertised the tool over class mailing lists and at reunion registration, where staffers walked attendees through the process of installing and using the app. The HAA intends to use analytics to measure both the quantitative and qualitative success of the app.
Lovejoy said the majority of the feedback on the app has been positive, citing as an example a Twitter post from Prital S. Kadakia ’06, in which Kadakia stated that he was “even impressed here in silicon valley.”
Shelley Mandelbaum, whose husband was a member of the class of 1961, said the program was “wonderful.”
“You’re not alone when you have an app,” she added.
Lee F. Donaghey ’61, an avid iPhone app user, experienced some trouble accessing the Harvard network and downloading the program on his iPod touch. Despite his difficulties, he said he was “delighted with the invention and the history of this technology.”
“It is a privilege to be alive to see this in existence,” said Eugene B. Rosenberg ’61. “It blows me away. I wish I were graduating this year so that I could have 50 more years to play with [the app].”
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction.
CORRECTION: May 24, 2011
An earlier version of the May 24 news article "Class of 1961 Uses ‘Harvard Reunions’ App" incorrectly implied that the app was only for iPads and iPhones. In fact, the app will work on any web-enabled smartphone.