From our experience as students for over a decade, we know firsthand the struggles of choosing the perfect productivity app that can actually help keep us organized, on-track, and focused -- without having us log onto five different applications by seven different companies every third day ("the era of technology" they said). The current situation has only exacerbated the problem of students losing motivation, focus, and becoming increasingly disorganized as the school year progresses. We always said we could do a better job than that given the chance -- so this weekend we sought to create the productivity app, made for students, by students.

What it does

Study Buddy is a student experience-based productivity and time management application. Our team took a look at all the apps we and our peers use on a daily basis and sought to capture each of their individual benefits and as little of their problems as possible. Study Buddy 1.0 features an all-in-one interactive dashboard that includes a weekly calendar, a daily timetable, a feature to log and keep track of your study hours, and a recommendation for a set of tasks to complete that day (based on variables such as current grade in the course, the task's weighting in your final grade, priority of the course, and time left until the deadline). The corresponding Study Buddy chrome extension allows you to log your study hours anytime without navigating to the dashboard, and keeping you away from sites distracting to your focus. In a rush? Only found out about Study Buddy in the middle of the term? Check out Study Buddy's Syllabus Analyzer! With a simple upload of your PDF Syllabus, our application will review and auto-create your course and its tasks for that year. Simply toggle "complete" :)

How we built it

We used Node.js and React to develop the front-end portion of Study Buddy. The front-end is connected to the back-end, hosted by CockroachDB, and utilizes 3 major entities to store and provide all the necessary information: students (stores information about each user), courses (stores information about all courses), and tasks (stores all information relating to assignments, exams, deadlines, etc for all courses). The OCRSpace API was used to implement auto-fill of features using a PDF of the syllabus. Vanilla Javascript, HTML, CSS was used to implement the chrome extension, as demonstrated in the workshop video.

Challenges we ran into

Our first challenge was that we were not particularly experienced with rapid prototyping -- in hindsight, we may have spent too much time on things that we shouldn't have (like details) and too little time on things that we should have (like hosting our website on an external server). Secondly, during brainstorming the team agreed a chrome extension connected to our main application would be extremely useful, but, no one on the team had prior experience with chrome extension development. Lastly, we were one of the teams using CockroachDB when its server went down in the middle of the night -- after the issue was addressed, we, unfortunately, ran into several issues while utilizing the regular Cockroach Cloud clusters.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

  • Successfully created and deployed chrome extension!
  • Completed front-end creation of all essential elements of Study Buddy dashboard as well as additional pages (Register, Login, View Courses)
  • Connected front end with back end for all three major data entities (students, courses, assignments)
  • Functionalities successfully implemented are fairly polished, well-presented, and functional

What we learned

Members of the team were new to the front end tech stack, and learned how to use Javascript, HTML, CSS, and React during the workshops. We also learned how to connect a SQL database to the front-end application and how to develop a chrome extension from scratch.

What's next for Study Buddy

Our team started with great hopes for Study Buddy, a fair number of which we were able to fulfill throughout the course of this hackathon. One of the very next things we plan to do is integrate time-management and efficient study strategies backed by research (such as the Pomodoro technique, Flowtime technique) into the application, making it easy for students to experiment with and employ these well-established strategies. Closely related to our motivation for developing the chrome extension, we would also next like to develop a Study Buddy app for mobile, keeping students focused whether they are on their computer or phone. Lastly, we would like to implement an extrinstic rewards system: this type of system is much more familiar and common in our modern world, and in the beginning, will help students stay motivated to continue using the app, especially in the early days when it may be difficult to find the intrinsic motivation.

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