For note-taking, AirAudio and SharpScholar help students and professors

When three recent graduates—Tejas Mehta from U of T, Jawwad Siddiqui and Amin Nikdel from Queen’s University, who completed degrees in engineering, business and computer science, respectively—observed a lack of communication between students and their professors, they created software to bridge this gap. After a notable period of collaboration, they developed the SharpScholar tool, which is already in use at a number of universities, including U of T, Queen’s, Waterloo and Western.

Broadly speaking, SharpScholar enables more collaboration between students and their teachers, as students can make notes directly onto materials that their professors upload, which can then be seen by everyone in the class. This allows them to provide feedback on what they missed or didn’t understand so professors can better tailor their material towards their students. Dr. William Ju, who teaches human biology, was one of the first U of T professors to use the software.

“Students didn’t have a real voice in the class,” says Amin, “and teachers were having a difficult time teaching what they wanted to teach and making an impact on their students’ lives, and improving their performance.” In addition to SharpScholar, Amin and his team believe that an app-based tool, AirAudio, will facilitate in bridging this gap between students and professors.

AirAudio differs from SharpScholar in that it’s used for note-taking during lectures, rather than content that is uploaded online. While AirAudio will be able to record lectures and transcribe them, that’s actually not its most important function. Students will be able to use an app on their smartphones to “time-stamp” parts of the lecture: just by pressing a button, they can indicate which segments of their lecture were especially important; it’s basically like the audio version of highlighting your notes.

Stamped segments are stored separately from the rest of the lecture. Furthermore, all of this information is stored automatically in the same system, which the professor has access to too. This provides them with feedback on what their students find important so they can highlight those parts and better emphasize and explain other important parts that their students didn’t stamp.

For now, this app is undergoing test runs in order to gauge how effective it is, how much students and professors like it and if they’d be willing to pay for it. So don’t close your laptops or put your pens down quite yet, but if all goes well, AirAudio could be ready for use in just three to four months.

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