New class apps going viral across campus

The ever-increasing presence of cell phones and technology is sweeping across college classrooms like wildfire, including the lecture halls of Sam Houston State University. With this comes professor frustrations and student distractions.

However, mobile applications are moving towards the encouragement of cellphone-free learning environments by offering students tangible rewards in exchange for paying attention in class.

Mobile applications such as Küdzoo and PocketPoints are slowly making their way into the phones of college students across the nation. The apps use reward systems in efforts to push students into forming positive habits when in the classroom.

When asked about cellphone usage in the classroom, Department of English Assistant Professor Dr. Ching-In Chen says cell phones are a distraction in the classroom setting.

“I typically have a no-electronic technology policy in my classroom — mostly because I find it distracting for myself and for my students.”

Philosophy professor Dr. Brommage says students using cell phones in the classroom is their decision and grade consequence.

“I see people texting in class all the time, and they try to hide it,” Dr. Brommage said. “It does become a distraction. It is Omni-present. I struggle with checking my phone myself. If they want to tune out and not pay attention their grade will suffer.”

PocketPoints is a free and relatively new app that rewards students for not using cell phones in class. In order to gain points, the app must be on, and then the phone has to be locked. The longer the phone remains locked, the more points accumulated. These points can be redeemed for a wide variety of coupons and discounts to local businesses such as Barefoot, 3 Spoons, Farmhouse Café, Mama Jaunitas and many others.

Several SHSU students were asked whether they have ever heard of PocketPoints and each replied no. However, after a brief explanation, 100% reported they would use PocketPoints.

“I have classes where there is a strict no cellphone policy, so PocketPoints would be easy for me to use anyway,” Sophomore Alyssa Nunez said.

SHSU senior Rob Waterwall had an interest in the app too.

“I do use my cell phone during certain classes, but the rewards system may be an incentive to students to put the electronics away”.

Küdzoo is another free, student oriented mobile application that focuses in on end of term grades rather than the day-to-day cell phone usage. The app rewards points in exchange for favorable grades, grade improvements, and through daily SAT/trivia questions. These points can be redeemed for coupons and discounts to businesses such as Tommy Hilfiger, Target, Forever21, Nike, GameStop, and countless others. Users can also use their points to enter drawings for scholarships as well.

Again, SHSU students were asked if they had heard of Küdzoo, and each replied no. Only 60% of surveyed students say they would use Küdzoo.

Sophomore Alexis Lopez was uninterested because she considered it an inconvenience.

“I would not use Küdzoo because the points take longer to accumulate, and I do not have my past transcripts right off hand,” Lopez said.

Dr. Ching-In Chen was asked whether she felt these applications could help with the cell phone presence in classrooms.

“I could see how those applications could encourage students to stay off their phones in class and focus,” Dr. Ching-In Chen said. “ I like the rewards option more than the punitive option.”

SHSU Sophomore Michelle Gbnebichie agrees.

“I would use both of these for the coupons and rewards that are available”.

With the introduction of mobile applications that encourage positive learning habits, Sam Houston State University could see a dwindling number of little bright screens in the classroom.

Both Küdzoo and PocketPoints are free and are available to IPhone and Android.

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