"Why to leave these technological opportunities only to the top players of the market?"
Our mission is clear: technology is something marvellous and it shouldn't be available only to the biggest companies; anyone can improve its own productive process, through the introduction of smart tools, nice to see and easy to use. And we are not only talking about companies; privates, insitutitions and associations: everyone is included in the innovation process.
Today, in fact, we bring you Papaya as example; it's the web app we developed for ESN Modena, a small student association part of the bigger Erasmus Student Network (ESN). The motto is “students helping students”: they are volunteers which, during their academic years, offer their own free time to help international students whom come to study in the italian universities for a limitated period of time (usually, 6 months up to 1 year).
ESN Modena, which has just celebrated its tenth years of activity, counts about 25 active members who responds to more than 300 exchange students each year, in the cities of Modena and Reggio Emilia. In its integration and inclusion process of foreign students in the culture and customs of the area, the association offers different projects. Three, in particular, affect our case history:
Buddy system: The Buddy system is a project that aims to integrate and make feel at home the international students, from their earliest days in their new cities. Each Erasmus can ask to receive a a local student as a tutor - the Buddy - who will be there to answer his/her questions, to clarify his/her doubts and that will help him/her take his first steps in the new city.“;
Language tandem: “Do you want to learn or improve another language? We will assign you a tandem partner who speaks the native language that you need! In return, your partner will be interested in the languages you speak so you'll both have the opportunity to improve in front of a coffee or a cup of tea.”
Pick-up system: “You are just arrived in your new city, ready for your brand new adventure. And now? Do you need a helping hand to carry the luggages in your new flat? Our pick up system is exactly what you need! We will do our best to find a Buddy who will come and pick you and your luggages up at the train or bus station (or even the airport), taking you then home, safe and sound.”
The three projects are based on the match of a Buddy — a local student whom lives in Modena o Reggio Emilia, with an exchange student, allowing the Buddy to offer its own time to make the foreign student's life easier, obtaing in exchange a multicultural experience, the boost of a forign language or, simply, a new friend.
Before Papaya, the projects were managed through the listing of manual or electronic forms that would have been read from the responsible for the project, who would have gone through the whole lists, trying to find the perfect match for every international student, contacting then (by telephone or email) the two parts of the match.
The Papaya era has seen the introduction of a web app which, through the log in with Facebook, allows to strongly limit the piece of information that the user has to fill in, speeding up the access to the system.
Once inside the app, the user can subscribe to one of the above-mentioned projects: the Buddies offer their help, whereas the international students ask for a new mate.
At this point, every projects' responsible will be notified of the new requests and, through a clean and intuitive interace, he/she will have the possibility to evaluate who could be the best Buddy for each exchange student.
Users attributes and other information (as the “Likes“) coming from the Social Network are at the service of the project's chief to help him/her to achieve the perfect match; after the latter, a notification is immediately sent to the two parts to inform them of the good news.
Loose leaves? Complex Excel spreadsheets? Phantoms of the past!
And that's not all. We are designing an algorythm which will automatically suggest the ideal matches to the projects responsibles: this is how you reduce an tasks of several days in a few-minutes long job, thanks to machine learning techniques and a litle bit of magic.
Do you still have doubts about the effectiveness of an app to insert in your daily workflow, whatever nature is it about? Contact us and we will enlighten you!