UIT develops study group app
Published: Thursday, October 4, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 4, 2012 08:10
University Information Technology (UIT) is in the process of developing a pilot version of a program called Jumbo Study, which will assist students in the creation of study groups for classes with large enrollments.
Students will be able to access Jumbo Study through Trunk, according to Senior Solutions Specialist of Educational and Scholarly Technology Services (ESTS) David Grogan.
“If you’re in Bio 13 and you want to create a study group, you’d click on a location, a date and a time, and that would be published as a study group that is looking for members. Another student enrolled in Bio 13 can choose to join that group or create a new one,” Grogan said.
The software will also allow students to directly link online resources, such as study guides from a research librarian, to their online study groups, according to Grogan.
Grogan said the pilot version of Jumbo Study will be completed by the end of 2012 and officially introduced to the student body during the spring semester.
After the pilot version is released, he hopes to add a feature that will automatically notify a research librarian of upcoming study groups so that students will be able to request the librarian’s presence upon creating the group.
Though Jumbo Study is not intended to broadcast the creation of study groups outside of Trunk, Grogan is considering implementing an RSS feed system, which delivers constantly updated online content, for that purpose.
Grogan worked with Head of Library Information Technology Support Thomas Cox to integrate this program with Tisch Library’s systems, which are also undergoing development.
“There’s some cross-system integration that we’re looking at as we work with all these new technologies,” Grogan said. “These are open-source software platforms, so we’re reaping the benefits by putting out custom apps that can talk across these systems.”
Jumbo Study will be a mobile- and desktop-friendly web application, Grogan said, adding that subsequent versions of the software may also be available as an application for smartphones.
The program began development in the spring 2012 semester, as ESTS brainstormed new ways to serve Tufts students through mobile apps, according to Grogan.
The project was then pitched to the Academic Technology (AT) Fellows, a group of hired students who assist with ESTS’s tools and services.
“People responded very positively to the idea,” senior Rebecca Wood-Spagnoli, an AT Fellow, told the Daily in an email. “There were concerns, as with any new product, but as we involved our target audience from the get-go, we were able to address any issues before the launch.”
Grogan’s team then used the students’ responses to design the product.
“Based on those students, we developed a wireframe sketch of what this application might look like,” he said. “Then we sent it up to the developers, and that’s what they’re working on.”
Study groups at Tufts have typically depended upon knowing other members of the class beforehand, senior Daniel McNeely, a chemical engineering major, said.
“We survive by forming study groups for everything,” McNeely said. “[Jumbo Study] allows you to do that from the get-go. Rather than feeling out the class for the first two weeks or so, you can just say, ‘Hey, we should all study together.’ I feel like it really eases up that process.”