Provost Patrick Prendergast has long referred to student entrepreneurship initiatives as a “cornerstone” of College, something that tends to rumple the more traditionally minded elements of Trinity’s community.
Though the Provost’s claim is not without basis, it is also often not borne out in practice. A year ago, for instance, College shut down Tcal, a popular but unofficial application that allowed students to integrate their class timetables with calendar apps. This Editorial Board lamented the move, saying it suggested that Trinity was not as receptive to student innovation as it liked to think it was.
This week, however, College announced the release of a new smartphone app called Trinity Live – one designed by four computer science students who interned with IT services last summer. This app will include timetables, exam results and a digital ID system.
This suggests College is learning, but it’s yet to be seen whether it has truly grasped the lessons of previous ventures. The MyTCD and Blackboard online portals are slow and confusing – as students know all too well – and the Trinity MyDay app did not exactly become a digital hub of student life.
All of these offerings, however, were developed with little student input, and involved the adaption of off-the-shelf solutions from external service providers.
On the other hand, the most successful digital venture in recent years was the 2015 Trinity Digital ID app. The brainchild of former Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union Entertainments Officer Finn Murphy, it was student-led and bespoke.
Trinity Live sounds very much like it follows this model. But to ensure that this new app outlives its predecessor, College needs to realise that it’s not enough to just have students involved in the beginning. Rather, they should be involved every step of the way as the app is iterated upon and improved.
In reality, this is no more than should be expected of any modern fledging app. If stuck for inspiration, Trinity Live should simply emulate the model of College’s lustrous societies. Despite yearly personnel changes, they have largely managed to build on frameworks set years before – allowing each committee to still create a sense of ownership while catering to the changing needs of students.