App Attack: Follett Notifications

by Yannis Lam
Class of 2017

App-Attack is a new series of articles about apps for smartphones. Each App-Attack article provides a basic overview of each app and the author’s opinion regarding the app. It is important to note that only the Android version of the app will be reviewed. Afterwards, the app is rated on a 5 WAMP scale on 5 different categories and the 6th score is the average of the scores for the 5 different categories. The second app in this series is Follett Notifications. If you are interested in submitting your own reviews for App-Attack, please contact Mr. Dahlbeck in Room 131? or email BHSNewsteam@gmail.com.

This screenshot shows the overall layout of Follett Notifications. Please note lack of information that all of the messages have been marked as read. There is including the lack of class information from each grade.

According to the developer (Follett Software), the primary purpose of this app is to “Receive push notifications for students, parents, teachers, and administrators from various Follett School Solutions.” Along with this, the app had a simple set up that to claimed “Sign in with your existing Follett Aspen username and password to register your device, and you’ll start receiving any notifications posted by your district, school, or classroom. Within the app, you’ll be able to manage your app settings and view a history of the notifications you’ve received. Teachers are able to send notifications to their classes from their mobile device.”

The purpose of this app is to provide students with notifications whenever teachers update the Aspen X2 portal with grades. This app works with both Android and iOS. The Android version was last updated on October 3rd, 2014, while the iOS version was last updated on October 17th, 2014 (as of version 1.2). The app works on Android devices running on Android 4.0 and up and on iOS devices running iOS 7.0 and up. It is important to note that for students and parents not using Aspen X2, this app is virtually useless.

This screenshot shows the individual grade when selected amongst the notifications.

Once the app is downloaded, the user is prompted to set up the app by connecting to an existing Follett account. Every single student that’s registered to attend BHS should be familiar with their Aspen credentials. To set up this app requires the town’s Aspen URL (“https://ma-braintree.myfollett.com/aspen”), your personal Aspen ID (yannis.lam), and that ID’s password (**************).

The app has a relatively basic but unique interface. In its existence, many people have held different degrees of satisfaction with this app. The app has a 3.5 *** stars out of 5 ***** stars review on Google Play. Various users have complained about the app’s simplicity and the stress of school that it brings onto the phone.

After looking through the app and using it for myself for several months, I determined that the app was usable, but not a suitable replacement for the web versions of Aspen. The app ended up serving a tool to notify me when grades were entered, instead of informing me what my actual grades were in each class. Basically, the app told me when I should check Aspen, not how well Aspen said I was doing. These experiences and others became a defining part of my review.

Design: 3.5 Wamps

How does the app function and look?
Follett notifications provides a simple and ad-less interface that is clutter-free and modern. However, during my first installation of the app, I stopped receiving notifications after a month and I did not receive notifications from the app until the reinstalled it completely. The app also does not serve as a replacement for Aspen, as it only displays the points earned and the percentages that those points represented.

Satisfaction: 3 Wamps

After using this app, how does one feel?
Due to the stressful nature of checking grades, but the overall usability and stability of Follett Notifications, this app earns 3 Wamps.

Availability: 4.5 Wamps

How many countries and devices are able to use this app?
This app works on Android versions 4.0.0+, which means that most phones bought within the last three years are most likely compatible with the app. Since the majority of students at BHS with Android devices will be able to use this app, it earns a 4.5 Wamps rating.

Purposefulness: 2.5 Wamps

How well does the app fulfill the objectives that it claims it was designed for?
The app claims to serve as a recipient for push notifications from any changes in Aspen X2. While this app does notify users of when grades are updated, it does not mention which grades for which classes or even how many grades were changed until you click several layers into the app. The app also does not replace notifications of changed grades (ie. if you had a grade of a 0% and then your teacher fixed it to be a 100%, you will have two notifications, one grade that says 100% and another that says 0% instead of one grade notification that says 100%). As mentioned previously, the app does not even compare to the online versions of Aspen X2. Crucial notifications, such as overall grade changes do not appear in the app, which make the app feel incomplete. For fulfilling its claims of providing notifications but lacking helpful information, this app earns a 2.5 WAMPs Purposefulness rating.

Personalization: 4 Wamps

How well does the app adapt to a user?
The app provides useful parts for those able to use it, earning it a rating of 4 WAMPs.

Recommendation Rating: 3.5 Wamps

What is the overall average of the 5 categories of the app’s ratings?
The average rating comes out to be a 3.5 Wampsrating . . . which coincidentally corresponds with its average rating on Google Play!

Download Follett Notifications on Google Play
Download Follett Notifications on iTunes