Since elementary school, we have noticed that shy students are reluctant to participate in class and ask questions about the material being taught. We researched the greater academic and social implications of this; the Journal of School Psychology provides an evidence-based argument that shy students experience difficulty in school and lower academic performance. Shy students often feel uncomfortable or anxious to ask questions, leading to a weak understanding of material being taught. A safe and caring environment is crucial to promoting the mental health of students as young as elementary school-aged. Shy students tend to experience lower academic performance, leading to lower self-esteem and negative trajectories in self-confidence in their later years. Ultimately, a well-educated and mentally healthy youth is crucial for social goodness.

What it does

ClassAsk revolutionizes the way students interact with teachers during class or lectures. Since students usually have questions as lessons are being taught, students can anonymously enter their questions into the app. There are unique class codes for each class. The professor can view the questions being submitted in real time so they can easily answer the questions as soon as they come up. As a result, other students in the class do not know who asked the question, creating a more conducive learning environment for shy students. Not only does this process benefit shy students, but also other students who have the same question can also hear the answer, benefitting their studies. In addition, with a click of a button, students can express whether or not they understand the material at a particular moment. A progress bar on the bottom of the screen shows the percent of people who don’t understand the concept so the professor can immediately provide clarity. Consequently, students, especially those that are shy, do not feel compelled to interrupt the lecture since they can see that other students also don’t understand the material. The back-end serves to update the questions and the progress bar. All students feel more confident about asking questions and thus, gaining a better understanding of the material, leading to better academic performance.

How we built it

The backend and authorization was built using Google Firebase. We used Node.js and Express on the backend. We used React.js on the frontend with Grommet and Material UI libraries. The database we used to store login information was Firebase Realtime Database in NoSQL, helping to store data. We used Web Sockets for two-way interaction between the server and client. We used Adobe Illustrator for the logo and design aspects.

Challenges We ran into

We faced challenges in incorporating Web Sockets for interaction between the server and client.

Accomplishments that We're proud of

We were successfully able to connect the front-end and back-end. We were able to use Web Sockets for client server interaction. Also, we were able to include other UI tools that we didn't have experience with before

What We learned

We learned that it is important to mockups and sketches of screens that we envision for the app. This way, all team members were aware of the requirements, functionality, and design. Also, we learned more about React and JavaScript. Incorporating Google’s Firebase taught us about authorization and database usage. Also, we learned how to use UI frameworks and tools such as Material UI and Grommet in order to create a readable and accessible interface.

What's next for ClassAsk

Use Google Cloud Speech to Text API so that students can receive a transcript of the teacher’s lesson, including answers to the anonymous questions. This will help students study the material at home as well. Use machine learning analysis to determine repeated keywords in the students’ questions so that the teacher can focus on those topics. The backend can then use those keywords to find more notes or readings to help students further. A quiz section could be added so that the teacher can ask a question through the app and students can anonymously answer. As a result, they will feel confident in giving an answer because their name is not associated with their answer. This will provide immediate feedback for students and cause less anxiety in their minds.

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