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SMART Studies


The SMARTStudies app is designed to assist students throughout their academic journey, by anticipating the communication and planning needs of the student, teacher, parent and incorporating any additional support systems that are available.  This app utilizes Web 2.0 technologies to connect all linked users (Slotta & Najafi, 2013) in the student's network and is available anytime, anywhere.  One of the primary pedagogical theories behind the conceptualization of the SMARTStudies app is the belief that communication and collaboration are the foundations of a successful education system (Scardamalia, 2002; Slotta et. al., 2013).  For these reasons, SMARTStudies provides a medium for all parties - students, teachers and parents - to have active roles.  Key to this design, and the functionality of the application, is the utilization of a social network platform which can be installed on any device (Smartphones, Laptops, and Tablets).  Additionally, the application affords educators the opportunity to generate activity awareness (Neale, Carroll & Rosson, 2004) by linking their educational website/blog/wiki to the SMARTStudies app and automatically syncing to student and parent devices when new posts become available.


1.1. How to deliver the course materials to students:

One of the key features of the SMARTStudies app is the ability to record class activities and automatically send the videos to students and parents who have installed the app on their device.  The use of video adds an additional element of warmth to the use of electronic devices (Brittan, 1992).  The SMARTStudies camera can make digital photos from the black/white board and automatically upload them immediately to the app. If the teacher uses technology in class (ie. Smartboard, powerpoint, video) the app can be set up to automatically live stream and upload material for later viewing.  These features prevent students from distractions, because they are not required to copy notes from the blackboards if they choose not to. Another option that the students have is to view the live stream powerpoint, smartboard notes or photos of the board, and can add notes to each of these via the app, making it a paperless course. Furthermore, teachers can send supplementary materials (links, videos, etc.) using the app.

1.2. How to assign homework to students:

The SMARTStudies app is a social network, so the structure of class and the activities can easily be customized. Teachers can send homework to all students or can differentiate homework based on students' needs by grouping students and setting homework for each group, or by assigning different assignments for each individual. 

1.3. How to provide students with feedback:

1.3.1. Before submitting the assignment:

Based on the set deadlines and students’ daily report, students will receive automatic reminders for deadlines and evaluation dates. If the assignment is time-intensive and requires multiple steps, reminders for what they should have accomplished by certain dates can be set by either the student or the teacher, depending on the grade level, assignment and student. 

1.3.2. After submitting the assignment:

Based on the results of self-assessments and peer assessments, the app will constantly provide students with formative feedback and will customize exercises and resources for each student based on their needs. Based on the time that students spent for a specific task and the quality of the work, the app will give students some advice to help them to study more efficiently, such as suggesting revisions to a study schedule based on when during the day they seem to work best or suggesting specific topics to get help with. When necessary, teachers can intervene and optimize the automatically customized tasks.


2.1.In class activities:

The SMARTStudies app, provides students with the opportunity to work collaboratively. The app can group students either randomly, based on interests (as determined through a survey), based on ability, or groups can be customized by the teacher or students. The 'lounge' is a chat room that provides space for groups to brainstorm and problem solve before submitting the results to the teacher.  It can be set by the teacher or student to either shared or private.  When they submit the results, a summary of group activities (that occurred in the 'shared' chat room) will be sent to the teacher and will be posted on the students' personalized dashboards so that they can privately view their own contribution and assess whether or not they need to make changes as a group member. This summary includes names of each group member, the total time spent on the activity, and the amount of each member contribution (based on the time). The app also will provide a graph of the groups’ progress in order to compare the work completed with the work that has been assigned.

2.2. Home activities:

After receiving the homework, students have two options for doing the assignments: 1) They can do the assignment using their device and submit the homework to the teacher 2) they can do their assignment on a piece of paper, take a picture of that and submit the soft copy of the assignment to the teacher, using the app. However, the photo will be digitized and students can add/delete notes from the pictures, so if they want to revise their solution, based on the peer-feedback or teacher feedback, they don’t need to write it again on a piece of paper and take another photo; they can simply erase the wrong parts and correct it.

2.3. Time-managment:

As students transition from elementary school to high school they are expected to engage in more independent study time, are usually assigned more homework and have multiple teachers.  The ability to manage their time becomes an important skill to develop (Cleary, Platten, & Nelson, 2008).  Morning alarm clock times can automatically adjust based on assignment/test dates, and sleep/nutrition goals can change based on self-reported focus and progress. Students may also use a 'Self Control' option that kicks in during scheduled study time to block social media and gaming sites. The ability to regulate can be developed through practice and with motivation as students achieve success on their tasks ( Azevedo, Johnson, Chauncey, & Graesser, 2011; Boekaerts, 1997; Chen, 2009; Greene, Moos, & Azevedo, 2011; Hadwin & Winne, 1996, 2012; Järvelä, & Hadwin, 2013;  Kitsantas, & Dabbagh, 2011;  Mayer, & Moreno, 2003; Webster, 2010; Wigfield, Klauda, & Cambria, 2011; Winne & Hadwin, 1998; Winne, 2011; Zhou, & Winne,  2012; Zimmerman, 2011) . The student is rewarded through a badge system for not disabling the 'Self Control' feature. If the student does disable the feature and doesn't complete the assignment for that study session, the app will automatically add in more study time to future study sessions. Since the study sessions in the calendar are colour coded based on amount of time, the student is able to get a quick visual on how procrastinating affects their future schedule. 

2.4.Peer assessment:

Students are able to send their solutions to up to 3 other friends for the purpose of peer assessment, before they submit their homework. The students can choose the person that they want to ask questions. However, the app can randomly choose the peer as well.  The type of learning achieved independently, is vastly different from learning that occurs as part of a collaborative effort.  When students are given the opportunity to work collaboratively, different problem solving perspectives emerge.  Knowledge that is socially constructed builds on the input of each participant.   Scardamalia (2002) has written extensively about the creation of a Computer-Supported Intentional Learning Environments (CSILE), its evolution to the second-generation Knowledge Building environment (known as Knowledge Forum) and similar knowledge building communities in classrooms, suggesting there are major advantages for students. 


The SMARTStudies app provides an environment for students to assess themselves and their progress. The app has an exit prompt, so that students can record a summary of their activities, each time that they log-out. Students have the option to assess their progress at the end of each day and to send a personalized report to the teacher. This report includes a summary of students’ activities, the time they spent for the activity, and the procedure of doing the activity. If students forget to send the progress report, the app will automatically aggregate the exit prompts records, and will send the progress report to the teacher.

2.6 Goal Setting:

Once students choose personal and/or post-secondary goals related to academics, they may program these into the SMARTStudies app so that infographics can give instant feedback on progress toward target grades in addition to suggestions for schedule adjustments if necessary. This feature can be linked to guidance office software (myBlueprint), college/university admission sites, to Dropbox for easy access to documents and to the Scribd online library.  Social media capabilities would allow for the sharing of goals and of progress made with friends and/or family.


3.1.Sending students' progress reports to parents:

The SMARTStudies app not only provides students with formative assessment, but also updates parents about their childs’ progress. The app has a dashboard that summarizes students’ progress, based on

1) self-assessment, 2) peer-assessment, and 3) teacher assessment.

The dashboard compares students progress and allocates points on a level system (Nicholson, 2012) providing feedback to parents and students; intrinsically motivating students to succeed through a gamification model (Thomas & Brown, 2011).  Research has suggested success is typically achieved through task persistence (Baker, Gerstner & Lee, 2002; Lens & Vansteenkiste, 2008; Peterson & Seligman, 2004), therefore the visual stimulation of student progress will serve as motivation of what they have achieved so far.

3.2. Parents' network

The SMARTStudies app creates a network for parents so they can share their concerns about the education system with other parents.

3.3.Report to parents:

Parents will receive weekly updates from the teacher regarding the progress of their child, in addition to warnings if their child falls behind. 



One of the good points of the SMARTStudies app is that it not only connects parents, teachers, and students to each other, but also connect the parents and teachers to the school advisory board. If the analysis of the assessments (Self-assessment, peer-assessment, and teacher assessment) shows that a student is at risk, a message will be sent to the school advisor (as well as the parents), so that the teacher, the advisor and the parents can discuss the situation and collectively make a decision to improve the student’s progress.


1. Sidd - The Gamer Kid

Sidd is 14 years old and has been struggling in school. In elementary school, he was at the top of his class but he has recently become very distracted by gaming. His parents and teachers worry that he is addicted as he barely does anything else during his spare time. He stays up late at night gaming and has a hard time waking up and staying alert at school. When he isn’t gaming he in on social media and gaming sites talking to other gamers about strategy. His teachers and parents decided to make use of the SMARTStudies app to help Sidd better manage his time and to keep him organized and on track.

After a meeting between Sidd, his teachers, and parents, Sidd and his parents agreed on a goal to bring up his average by 10% by the end of the year. They entered the number of hours that his teachers suggested he study per day (based on their understanding of his efficiency and learning style) as a starting point in experimenting with a study schedule that works. The app considers the school schedule, eating, sleeping and down-time in order to come up with a study schedule that will put Sidd on the right path. As the year progresses and Sidd gets more quantitative feedback from teachers (through the app), the app will recalculate study time needed to adjust the schedule based on proven efficiencies.

Together, they decide on what restrictions to place on the ‘time-saver’ option on the app; they decide that once a study session begins, all video consoles, social networks, texting, and gaming related websites are blocked for the duration of that session. Although this is difficult for Sidd, he understands that it is a necessary step in putting him back on track academically. Parents are notified when Sidd disables the time-saver (if he has the capability to do so) and the amount of time lost during that session is automatically added to subsequent sessions. Time of sessions on calendar is colour coded, so that at a quick glance, Sidd can see how much time is needed to spend per day in order to attain a goal. If more time is needed to study due to missed or distracted study sessions, the alarm with automatically change settings to wake him earlier in the morning for catch-up sessions throughout the week.


2.Faben- The Virtual Student

Faben has a medical condition whereby she periodically has to spend weeks at a time as an inpatient. She became used to falling behind during this time. She also really missed being part of a class community. Luckily, she, her parents and her teachers have all started using the SMARTStudies app. Now, Faben logs into her SMARTStudies app at the beginning of class and is able to follow along, hear her teachers’ and peers’ voices. If she misses anything she can revisit the videos and uploaded class notes anytime after class as the camera automatically captures the classes and board notes for immediate screening as well as for future viewing. The automatic feedback allows Faben to work at her own pace, although she tends to keep up since she wants to be prepared for the live streamed classes so that she can chime in, via the virtual in-class question board, when she has a question in class and she can receive a real-time answer from her teacher or classmates.

She doesn’t have much trouble with managing her time and she is not easily distracted while she is doing her homework, so she has disabled the ‘time-saving’ option (and her parents got the notification and approved of this). When Faben encounters an issue with a homework question, she posts it to the discussion board and notifications are sent to all of those who have successfully answered the question, asking them to guide Faben toward the answer (without giving her the answer). Students can gain points for appropriately guiding their peers and students with a certain number of points can earn the title of peer mentor/tutor for which they get credit on their report cards, so it is in the interest of students who are ahead to help their classmates.


3.Gabriel – The Busy Bee

Gabriel is a very active teenager. He loves school and is engaged in multiple extra-curricular activities. His teacher has noticed that he has been very anxious lately and has been losing weight. After a meeting with Gabriel and his parents the teacher suggested using the SMARTStudies app to help Gabriel meet his sleep, relaxation, and nutritional needs. Turns out Gabriel was skipping lunch and going to bed way too late in order to get everything done. They decided to program the app to set a bedtime alarm whereby access to school sites/assignments is shut down and soothing music is turned on. Self-reported good eating and sleeping habits earns him wellness points which are displayed in an infographic on his dashboard. Since he has high self-motivation, just setting the goal and having his progress displayed for him to see is enough. He takes pride in taking better care of himself as he knows it’ll ultimately be beneficial for his mental health and in turn his academic and extra-curricular achievement. 

Gabriel has found that helping others on the question board has been helpful in solidifying his understanding of the material. He has gained tutor status from his teacher and has had lots of great online reviews from his peers. He’s also happy to have something else to add to his application for his post-secondary education.



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  1. check out Pocket Tutor from last year - took on some of what you describe here - not to pollute your design thinking, but it may open up some new dimensions .

    I like that you are using it to help moderate things like phone use (ironically).  Also, that you are starting to think about a social aspect - connecting to teacher, peers, parents, etc.  I wonder if there could be some kinds of positive feedback, where studying is captured or represented (like car dashboards that turn all green when you've been driving ecologically)

  2. What a great wiki page!

  3. I think taking notes from the board in class is not always a bad idea... it helps many people to understand better (smile) 

  4. Really like the ability for teacher to assign assignments based on student needs.  This would be great to assign different mediums of assignments and assignment submissions.  For example assign the student to make are presentation rather than an essay–a visual essay. if they have issues concentration on writing a full report but can break it down into chunks for presenting on.

  5. Can "the lounge" be monitored to prevent plagiarism?

    I like that you can submit homework in multiple formats (e.g. paper, digital).

  6. I like the rewarding system... They say the efficient amount of studying on your own is 20min, then you need to take a break and do your most favourite activity even if it's playing Xbox 

  7. love the intentional learning aspect.  How can "infographics" turn more into "visualizations of knowledge and progress"?

  8. I really like the rewards for achieving "self-control" idea. Gamification on a variety of levels can help pull some traditionally 'top down' discipline approaches into a new arena where learners are tasked with asserting their own commitment to their work rather than penalized for not putting in the "necessary" amount of time from some other source.

  9. Can this app help university admission process?

  10. I like the teacher being able to connect directly with the parents about homework and performance on a daily basis. 


  11. I like tracking learners' progress and assessing on it from different perspectives. 

  12. I am really disappointed with the mention that any post secondary institution would intentionally or knowingly discriminate against a person who acknowledges and is actively attempting to regulate their mental illness and is open with that to them or through the information they have obtained.  That must in some way cause problems legally.  How can they accommodate a physical disability and differentiate between any other type.