Brigham Young creates standard API to encourage innovation — especially among students

Dive Brief:

  • After three enterprising students "screen-scraped" Brigham Young University's registration pages and built a more user-friendly site, university officials decided to create a single streamlined application programming interface (API) to make it easier for app developers, including students, to connect to systems on campus, Campus Technology reports.
  • Though many students used the aforementioned improvement over BYU's own registration system to create their class schedules, they still had to go to the institution's system to actually register for the courses — but the API will make it easier for students or other app developers to build out solutions that can be easily implemented.
  • While the university already had a wide variety of web services available, enterprise architect Phil Windley told Campus Technology that a person developing an app might have had to work with 25 individual APIs, each with several identifiers and data formats.

Dive Insight:

By standardizing a single API, BYU is making it easier for developers to meet multiple needs with a single solution. But most importantly, it's creating a more encouraging environment for student innovation.

If students are able to map out a better way to carry out a process, like registration, and they're willing to build it out, the university benefits on several levels. Those students, for example, come away with a STEM accolade they can tout when entering the workforce, and the institution has a scenario it can point to reinforcing the notion that it provides students with the opportunity to innovate and encourages them to do so. As an added bonus, it also saves money that might otherwise have been spent on a vendor-developed app.

With colleges and universities continuing to cope with budget austerity and increasing competition over students, opportunities like this can't be overlooked.

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Filed Under: Higher Ed Technology