I met one of the founders of StudyTree, Ethan Keiser, at the Entrepreneurship in Education workshop hosted by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton campus in San Francisco. The event brought together ed tech entrepreneurs, academic administrators and venture capitalists to discuss entrepreneurship and the latest trends in educational technology.
Ethan was a student at Drexel University’s College of Engineering when the StudyTree app won the 2015 Microsoft ImagineCup nationwide competition. At that time, the app focused on peer-to-peer tutoring.
“StudyTree integrates academic support services of higher education institutions with artificial intelligence to provide students with a mobile academic assistant.”
Since then, the app has been developed to coach students using artificial intelligence and provide customized nudges, self-assessment and connections with other students to form study groups. The app is customizable to meet the specific needs of an institution.
To get a sense of how the app is used on a college campus, I spoke with Ira Fabri who is the Assistant Director of Tutoring at the Learning Resources Center (LRC) at University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). Ms. Fabri said that the app didn’t start out as a scheduler for tutors on the UMBC campus, since it wasn’t connected to the LRC, but they were able to add that capability as the app was integrated for UMBC with Peoplesoft. The app enables students to schedule appointments with the LRC on their phones rather than using the web.
When I asked about the flexibility of the platform, Ethan Keiser said “the platform has many types of users. For example, Ira solely handles tutoring and scheduling. Our product does this very well, having our AI bot LEON connecting students and tutors. It cuts staff overhead and students were surveyed and preferred our mobile app over anything on the web. So yes, we are a customizable solution.”
Terri Givens is the former Provost at Menlo College in the San Francisco Bay Area; Professor of Government and European studies at The University of Texas at Austin; Vice Provost overseeing undergraduate curriculum and spearheading global initiatives as its chief international officer.