Students Create Learning Apps for Pearson Coding Contest

Pearson Student Coding Contest concluded its first ever competition in early 2015. The three finalists were flown to Pearson eCollege in Denver, CO, where each presented their newly developed learning app to a panel of judges. The judges look for technical complexity combined with innovation and creativity.

During the course of the contest, participants develop a strong camaraderie with one another. While some environments such as this may get a little strained in terms of competition, the Pearson Coding Contest 2014 participants were supportive of each other and genuinely interested in the apps that their peers were developing. Each finalists states that they were excited about working with other college students, and were eager to learn about what their peers were passionate about.

Contest Rules: The Pearson Coding Contest emphasizes the importance of recruiting college students into the development of learning applications. Each app must integrate with Pearson Application Programming Interfaces, or APIs. During the contest period, participants go through two stages: Idea Proposal and Entry.

During Idea Proposal, the initial stage, contestants submit a pitch outlining and describing the software application they are developing. Contestants whose applications were chosen at the end of the initial stage are notified by Pearson. At this point, the participant must submit an Entry.

During the Entry stage, the contestant uses their Idea Proposal as a baseline for development. Eligible Entries are any kind of software application for a mobile device, a personal computer, or any other software platform available to consumers. Submitted entries must technically integrate with Pearson APIs, and cannot be available for retail sale before the end of the contest.

A complete list of guidelines for the 2015 contest can be found on the Pearson Website.

The Finalists

First Place was awarded to Mike Purvis from the University of Hawaii, Hilo. Mike Purvis created a module to integrate Pearson online course content with Drupal websites. Drupal is a software platform used by many universities to manage online content. Combining Pearson and Drupal, Purvis created a site for his school called University of Hawaii Pearson. The site provides live updates and information on Pearson courses, as well as school-related events, such as sports games and study abroad opportunities. On the demo site linked above, Pearson content is updated every five minutes. Purvis was awarded a prize of $10,000.

Second Place went to Wilson Johnson from the University of Texas at Dallas. Inspired by the reward system offered in video games and the instant gratification we crave in life, Wilson Johnson developed Ecosystem, an app that balances work and play through competition. The app focuses on Social and Individual. In Social, a list of peers would allow students to add their friends in order to increase competition and partnership. There is also a ranking system that would increase a student’s place according to discussion and class participation. Greater knowledge means higher rank, and Johnson is hoping that will motivate students in their classes. The Individual aspect would award students for achievements in their online community. Students also get a profile that displays ranking, progress, and other relevant information. Teachers would have a separate version where they could assign homework, grade work, and administer online tests. Johnson was awarded a prize of $5,000.

Third Place went to Tracy Orguni from the University of Texas at Arlington. Tracy Oguni produced an Android app called StudyBuddy. It acts as an electronic assignment planner for students who need to organize their schoolwork, keep track of their assignments, budget their time in a productive manner, and to avoid the stress that comes with cramming. Using the information on how much time an assignment may take, the app will navigate around the student’s already existing schedule and create study sessions that break down assignments and make them more manageable for the user. For example, if a student has an assignment that takes 20 hours and is due in two weeks, the app will schedule 2-3 hour study sessions per day, which gives the student time to complete assignments and incorporate other aspects of a schedule. Most sessions can be scheduled manually or automatically. Orguni was awarded a $1,000 prize.

The 2015 Pearson Coding Contest period ran from September 27, 2015 to February 5, 2016. Semifinalists are listed here.

Sarah Samel

Sarah Samel

Sarah Samel is an Emerson College senior Writing, Literature and Publishing student focusing on young adult fiction. When she’s not browsing bookstores, she’s blogging or jotting down ideas for new poems and stories.