New App Hopes to Change Classroom Culture

Dec 10, 2015

Credit Ross Terrell/ KBIA

  If you’ve been in a college lecture hall, you know that students checking their phones in class is a common occurrence.

According to a study done by researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, students on average check their phones 11 times a day while in class. More than 80 percent of students reported that checking their phones in class effects their learning and one-fourth of the respondents admitted their grades have suffered as a result. MU Professor Cheeyung Harrison Kim says that a traditional classroom environment is ideal.

“Even if you’re taking notes on your computer, I think in some ways it’s better to engage with me and other students,” Kim said.

Pocket Points is a new app that has been introduced to the University of Columbia with hopes to combat this issue. The app works like this. Using geo-fencing technology, the app is able to locate when a student is in a classroom on campus. Once a student is in their classroom, they open the app and then lock their phones to begin collecting points. The longer the student doesn’t use their phone, the more points they accumulate. Points can also be accumulated quicker based on how many people are using the app at one time on campus.

The points are what motivates students such as Arais Farrah to use the app and pay attention in class.

“I think it’s great, it gives students an incentive to not want to use their phone in class because you want to accumulate points,” Farrah said.

Various local and national businesses have partnered with Pocket Points to allow users to cash in their points for a variety of deals. One of the more popular deals in Columbia is a free chicken sandwich from Chick-fil-A for 35 points, which equates to roughly an hour and 45 minutes of app usage.

The app was created by Mitch Gardner and Rob Richardson, two former fraternity brothers at Chico State University in California. They were inspired to create the app when Richardson was sitting in class and noticed no one was paying attention to the teacher.

Now the app has about 100,000 users and Gardner and Richardson are hoping that number continues to grow.