Jisc (formerly the Joint Information Systems Committee) are a not-for-profit organisation who support further and higher education in the UK. They wanted an app that would allow students to see how engaged they were with their course, and which would provide additional motivation to study more. We were asked to evaluate fitness apps and to try to give the study goal app a similar look and feel. It was expected that most students would want to use the apps on their phones, but that a tablet view would still be required. It was clear that the app would need its own database for data generated by the user inside the app, but it also needed to connect with data generated outside of the app, from other parts of the Learning analytics ecosystem.
We developed a native app on iOS and Android, supported on phones and tablets. User activity can be logged live using a timer, or reported after completion with a manual entry. The app also allows students to set themselves targets and can track their progress towards this goal. Furthermore, a statistics section retrieves and displays data collected externally to the app, including VLE usage and attendance. One of the most important features of the app was a requirement to gamify the app to encourage student engagement and ensure continued app usage. The study goal app takes elements common in fitness apps, such as trophies for frequent logging of new activities, feed displaying engagement, and the option to add friends into the app, so that their progress can be viewed via the activity feed within the app.
It has been designed to feel like the academic equivalent of a fitness tracking app and it places a high focus on motivation. To that end, the app is designed to highlight comparisons between users and their friends, shows progress towards goals on clear graphs and charts, and gives users trophies for ongoing participation and high reporting.
The app has been fully launched to great success and has many active users. Many students have provided us with feedback on how much they enjoy using the app and how it has positively impacted their studies.
“We have found Therapy Box to be a capable and reliable partner during the project.” Phil Richards, Chief Innovation Officer, Jisc