The SCOPE program at Olin College is the capstone project for all seniors that pairs companies with small groups of students for a full year. I was part of the Pearson Education SCOPE team. We were asked to explore how mobile education services could be most useful to students and how these products would fit into their lifestyles.

This was a very interesting time in the mobile education space. We started our project in the Fall of 2008. The iPhone had just been released a year earlier (with the App Store only opening that summer), and the first Android handset had basically just been released. We were asked to focus our research on students studying for three very different courses: Anatomy and Physiology, Culinary Arts, and Public Speaking. Through getting to know students studying in these three areas, we found some common threads that guided us to our final proposal:

  • Students with smartphones were already used to looking for applications for their phones. It didn't make sense to target mobile study aids to people with flip phones who were not interested in loading apps, even if they were free.
  • They were most likely to use an app to help them study during regular downtime during their day, like riding the bus or waiting for class.
  • Most of them only trusted the ways they used to study already. They would consider using an app, but they knew that they were only going to be prepared for exams by reading the book and studying their notes, which was very time consuming.
  • Students were constantly listening to music in their free time - even while studying.

We presented two different flavors of a single app for our final presentation. These applications harnessed the power of music to help students remember key facts about what they were studying, while leveraging the educational content of our corporate partner, Pearson Education. We created Android prototypes to be demonstrated in our final presentation. Pearson used our ideas internally at the corporate level to shape their mobile strategy.