— By Laura Gonzalez Salmeron (IT Innovation Challenges volunteer assistant) —
This is the second, of three, presentation of the ideas submitted to the IT Innovation Challenges for the 2017 student round. 47 ideas were submitted, and Laura Gonzalez Salmeron has kindly provided these summaries of them. This list includes the ideas submitted in the ‘Student Welfar’ category. A separate post presentes the ideas in the ‘Teaching and Learning’ category.
Category : Student Welfare
*Oxford Indoor mApp: We’ve all been there: struggling to find a seminar room in spite of having already asked the porter for directions three times. Where are the closest toilets? Where is the MCR? Oxford Indoor mApp to the rescue! This application utilizes the sensors of our smartphones to create a heat-map of the geomagnetic footprint of every building, superimposing it then on the architecture map. Speaking plainly: it will create an indoor map of the building you’re in, along with a navigation path to reach your destination. Where GoogleMaps end, Oxford Indoor mAPP begins.
*Sanctum: Oxford has a vast choice of workspaces, including the old Bodleian library, various department libraries, not to mention all the college libraries and college rooms… Still and all, many students don’t want to take the risk of leaving their rooms only to find that other places are too busy, too noisy or too distracting. Sanctum offers a visually engaging and informative way to find the place that suits best your needs. Are beautiful surroundings a must for you to trigger your inspiration? Do you need complete silence to focus on your reading? Where can you work together with your friends? Where can you enjoy a coffee while writing your essay? Sanctum will collect all this information and make it available for students to optimise their study time.
*Responsive Mood Journal/Peer Support Access: sometimes you just need to rant. Writing down your feelings can be a great way to let them go or put them into perspective, but also you may want someone to listen. However, reaching out can prove to be a mental and emotional challenge, be it to a friend or a professional counsellor. The Responsive Mood Journal offers a platform in which students can write about their day or any concerns or problems they may have. These thoughts can be kept private as a private mood journal, or shared anonymously with someone (e.g. a peer supporter) who could then comment on them and offer advice. The choice is up to you!
SubMe: remember that concert/talk/workshop/karaoke party you were dying to attend only to have your friends cancel on you at the last minute due to a deadline crisis? Some people find it a bit awkward or suboptimal to go to an event alone… but that shouldn’t stop you from doing what you enjoy! SubMe is an app that allows you to find people to replace your friends (that is, at a specific occasion; not like, forever: I’m sure they are good friends!). State the event, time, and place and see who’s also going and looking for subs. It also doubles as a useful tool for societies and departments to try and fill up the suddenly available places in events that have had dropouts. With SubMe, students won’t feel so guilty about cancelling last minute, events will be better attended and bored students looking for ideas to pass time will have their wish granted.
LinkUp: picture this: you’re working at your department’s library and you could really use a short break and enjoy some social interaction. You message your friends: one is studying at her room, another one is at the Bod and a third one is having lunch at college. You wish you could afford to spare one hour and go meet them, but that wouldn’t really qualify as a “short” study break, would it? LinkUp is an app that allows you to connect with students near you in need of short study breaks. You can control who sees your request (by gender, age, subject, distance) and set what kind of activity you fancy (coffee, short walk, chat…) to make sure you find the perfect match.
Living Out Guide App: there’s no denying that the process of securing private rented accommodation can be a bit daunting, especially the first time. It is one thing to leave your home and go live in college accommodation, but it is an entirely different thing to source a property that suits your needs, provide a deposit, find a guarantor, and sign a legally binding contract which you must make 100% sure to understand… all of this, one year in advance of actually moving out. In order to help students face this new challenge, the Student Advice Service produced the “Living Out Guide”, which they are seeking to extend now into a Living Out Guide App that would support students during their house hunting.
Hippo: there are lots of supportive resources in Oxford to help you get through hard times, but opening up about your problems with a stranger can be awkward, regardless of their psychotherapy credentials or disposition to help. Hippo is a happiness tracker-trainer (think FitBit for your mind): an app which prompts you during the day to record what you’re doing, thinking and feeling; it will then analyse your data to offer you instant, personalised, evidenced-based advice to improve your well-being.
Oxford.it: again, asking for help is hard. Sometimes it would actually seem that the more help you need, the more you struggle to turn for advice. Oxford.it is a platform that allows students to ask their questions, share their experiences, doubts, and advices under the comforting protection of anonymity. They will then get answers to their concerns and provide feedback on their usefulness.
Silo: funding is a major issue for students, particularly for those at graduate level; to add insult to injury, the quest for funding is unnecessarily complicated and anxiety-inducing. Filo is a web platform aimed at simplifying this process, effectively maximising your chances of securing a scholarship. Through their custom-built search engine and extensive database, students and researchers are presented with a personalised list of opportunities, filtered according to different parameters (age, subject, amount…). Plus, it also works as a crowdfunding platform, connecting students not only to their friends or family, but also alumni, companies and organisations interested in funding their research or education in exchange for contributions in the form of part-time work or participation in specific projects.
Must Have: Oxford is a cycling city –most students have a bike to get around. Now, imagine cycling at night, when no one is around to help, were you in need of it in case you had an accident. Or, imagine yourself simply walking down the street, and suddenly feeling threatened when you notice someone seems to be following you. Must Have proposes to use certain sensors of your smartphone to trigger a distress signal and send your location to the University Services or a designated friend. For example, accelerometers and gyroscopes could automatically detect accidents or, alternatively, you could manually trigger the distress signal with a single click if you’re feeling unsafe.
ROOT (Remote Observation and Operation Technology): ROOT is the world’s first remote farming platform which would allow students to learn and enjoy agriculture, from anywhere in the world and at any time. It is like a farming videogame… but real. Who said agriculture couldn’t be fun? With their smart-devices, users could monitor, control production and harvest their crops, at the same time they have the opportunity to learn more about food sources and the environment. Root brings together entertainment, real achievements and education, all in one!