As a team we wanted to pursue a project that we could see as a creative solution to an important issue in education and could have a positive impact for the future. As students who have recently finished their semester online, we have firsthand experience in the difficulties of online learning, in particular, the severe lack of social interaction. We believe that social interactions during the school year is extremely important to students for their mental well-being, and can dramatically change their quality of life. Because of this, we decided to develop a web application in hopes of solving this issue and bringing a positive change for students during the school year.
What it does
When students sign up on Study Buddy for the first time, they are prompted to enter an email and password which they will use as login authentication in the future. After signing up, students are prompted to provide their school's name, program, and year. This will allow Study Buddy to match the student with other students fitting these criteria. The student can also provide a list of personal hobbies and classes they are taking. Study Buddy primarily tackles two common issues that students suffer from in an online learning environment; the lack of social interaction and diminishing productivity. The first problem is solved using a table containing all the other students in the app, which is displayed to the user when logging in. The table is sorted based off the user’s details so the other students with the most matching hobbies and classes are sorted to be higher. The user can now initiate a conversation with other students through the chat system and have confidence in maintaining a conversation based off shared interests instead of messaging students randomly. The chat feature also allows students to initiate “study buddy contracts”. These contracts work by having two students create their own checklist in a shared platform. However, for each student’s checklist items can only be checked off by the other student. This system is effective because it allows students to keep each other accountable for accomplishing goals. A progress bar allows both students to track their combined checkbox completion progress. When all tasks are complete, the progress bar is filled.
How we built it
We build our frontend with React.js and SASS. Our web app runs on Node.js [this will be expanded]
Challenges we ran into
Ironically as our product was inspired by a lack of communication in an online learning environment, we found it difficult for the first half of the hackathon with keeping track of our project’s details and effectively communicating our concerns. Looking back, this is probably due to our group being unfamiliar with each other’s working habits and skillset. Towards the second half of the hackathon we became better at responding to each other.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We were able to create a web application addressing a problem close to our hearts. As students who regularly experience the difficulties associated with social interactions in an online learning environment, we felt compelled to take this issue into our own hands. In addition, group members picked up new technologies needed to build this project remarkably quickly. Due to our wide differences in skills, we effectively coordinated our team to capitalize our time based off our strengths and to compensate for each other's weaknesses.
What we learned
The importance of communication in planning our project. In accordance to our product message, working in a team and leading each other to create a functioning product in only two days requires a great deal of teamwork.
What's next for Study Buddies
- A machine learning algorithm, this will allow Study Buddies to make better matches with students over time
- Implementing a more secure authorization feature for login
- Transitioning the product for post-covid events, given that students no longer need online learning, the app can still provide a useful way to meet friends on-campus