Project: Study Buddy


The problem: ICS students often spend more time than they need on their homework and don’t learn the material as effectively as they could, because they study alone and do not leverage the power of face-to-face study groups with peer mentors.

The solution: Study Buddy is an application for UHM ICS students to self-organize face-to-face study groups around a course and/or specific homework or project topic.


To use Study Buddy, a student must login and set up their profile. The profile enables each student to list courses they have taken and for which they are willing to attempt to provide help (sensei), and courses they are currently taking and for which they might need help (grasshopper). Thus, all students are sensei in some courses and grasshoppers in other courses. Each student must also provide a head shot so that they can be visually identified.

Another section of the site lists all of the ICS courses. Within each course, it is possible to see the grasshoppers and the senseis. A grasshopper can propose a study session around a topic currently being covered in their course (for example, “Write my essay on configuration management”, and a time to meet within ICSpace (i.e. 8:30-9:30pm tonight)). This proposal generates a notification to all of the grasshoppers and senseis, and they can respond by saying they intend to come at some point during the time period.

There is an online calendar that shows all of the study sessions and who is attending.

There are two styles of use for Study Buddy:

  1. You want to plan a group study session for later in the day or some subsequent day. In that case, you schedule the time period for sometime in the future.

  2. You are having a problem right now. In that case, you can go into Study Buddy and schedule the session for “Right Now!”. This indicates you are right now in ICSpace and need help. All the other sensei and grasshoppers for that course will be notified, and hopefully a group will spontaneously form in a few minutes.

Study Buddy seems great in theory, but there is a significant barrier to adoption: students are naturally inhibited about asking for or offering help. This might be overcome through the use of well designed game mechanics.

Part of the design of Study Buddy should be some kind of point system, or “levels”, or some other game mechanic to reward students for participating.

In addition, you can solicit gift cards or other kinds of rewards from the ICS Department or UH Manoa to reward the “best” sensei and grasshoppers in a given week, month, or semester. The challenge is to design the point system so that students cannot “game” the system to obtain points without actually helping others. You also want to prevent a “hui” of students from simply pretending to work together to get the most points and then split the prize without actually helping each other.

There must also be admins who monitor the site and who users can contact if they suspect inappropriate behavior.

Important design goals for Study Buddy are:

There are other mechanisms (Slack, Piazza) for asynchronous, online help and support. Study Buddy is designed to facilitate live, real-world help using ICSpace.

Note: if you choose this idea for your final project, you cannot name it “Study Buddy”. Come up with a different name for your final project.

Mockup page ideas

Some possible mockup pages include:

Use case ideas

Whether or not the following bullet points list all pages or not, the completed use case should show an end-to-end scenario of using the system.

Beyond the basics

After implementing the basic functionality, here are ideas for more advanced features: