The issue of navigating courses and their online components inspired the free mobile application Skoller, founded by Carson Ward, Logan Matthews and Jonathan Rankin. The app allows the user to download a syllabus, generate a grade calculator, a course schedule and a to-do list with notifications. Matthews said Skoller is unique from other grade calculators and course planners because it’s “student-powered,” and doesn’t rely on professors or teachers to update information on official university platforms like Canvas.
“We’re trying to plug you into your class community,” Matthews said.
While most university learning-management systems offer chat rooms for student discussion, these pages are usually monitored by professors or teachers. Skoller offers a space for students to ask their peers questions about upcoming assignments and exams they may not feel comfortable asking their professor.
The goal of the app, Matthews said, is to give students the power to keep themselves accountable for their own academic schedules by collaborating with one another on class information — but this collaboration through the app itself isn’t the only interpersonal connection Skoller aims to create.
“When you have a platform that gets more powerful as more people join, you’re trying to build a network where you get one person on and (then) they spread the word,” Matthews said. “We’re really starting to see that this semester … people reaching out.”
Matthews said directly working with student marketing groups to help promote the app has been an important part of appealing to the needs of each university’s unique campus culture.
“We (the founders of Skoller) understood Belmont University and Vanderbilt University really well because that’s where we went to school,” he said. “We know what’s funny, we know the inside jokes. And so when we started to look around the country… we needed to get plugged into those (other) campuses.”
The Michigan Advertising and Marketing club works with Skoller on campus. Business sophomore Jared Steinhart helped build Skoller’s user base at the University.
“When you scroll through Facebook or Instagram and you see just a general ad, you’re likely not going to stop and think about what it is, unless you see some sort of connection to it,” Steinhart said.
The connection Steinhart’s team creates is usually a maize-and-blue emblem that students on campus will recognize while scrolling through their feed.
Steinhart said personally reaching out to students has been the most effective strategy in marketing the app so far. The University-specific content his team created has boosted the number of Skoller’s users on campus from zero to 100 since the app’s nationwide launch in 2018.