Brazilian students created an app that keeps even slackers on track

In Brazil, the undergraduate equivalent of a thesis is the Trabalho de Conclusão de Curso, or TCC. The paper or project sums up everything students have learned over their four years at school and can take between six months to a year to complete. From start to finish, there are lots of deadlines meant to keep students on track, but many still struggle to complete their projects on time.

In preparing for a hackathon at their school, Federal University of Goiás, Ketlen Komorek and Tiago Hermano wanted to make the TCC less overwhelming for their classmates. They looked for tech-based solutions but found most apps were geared towards formatting papers than addressing the whole process. Their team developed an app, Minha Jornada TCC, that uses gamification and planning tools specifically created for the undergraduate thesis paper.

After winning first place at their university’s hackathon, they participated in the Red Bull Basement University competition. The event brought together students from 25 countries to pitch tech solutions to make students’ lives better.

Mentes brilhantes = SUCESSO✨

No dia 30/06 foram premiados os vencedores do Hackathon, onde diversas soluções para assuntos da Universidade foram apresentadas. A equipe Jornada TCC se destacou e levou a melhor.????

Parabéns a todos participantes! ????

Veja????https://t.co/4jrjJT8ORz pic.twitter.com/vLjCqocynd

— UFG (@ufg_oficial) July 4, 2019

For the Minha Jornada app, students answer a few questions about their work habits and notification preferences (slackers will get more nudges than non-procrastinators), and the app does the rest. Many of the TCC projects follow the same pattern of due dates, so the app uses a template to automatically create a schedule. Users can add subtasks to their planner for further customization.

A taskbar will show students how far along they are in their “journey.” Minha Jornada translates to “My Journey,” and the TCC is such a long process that Komorek and Hermano see it as an apt comparison. They want students to regularly engage with the app and stay motivated. “We’re just using project management techniques combined with gamification, so they could have a broader view of the whole process they’re doing,” said Hermano. The team also wants to make the app free for students.

“We’re using project management techniques combined with gamification, so they could have a broader view of the whole process they’re doing.”

“We also believe that the real value is when you bring the teacher-supervisor to the process,” said Hermano. Professors sometimes have more than a dozen projects to supervise, so it can be difficult to keep tabs on students who are missing crucial deadlines. The app would give supervisors clear views on where their students are in their projects. They’re hoping universities will be willing to pay for the app so students don’t have, In return, they’ll get insights into which departments might be lacking in resources, as well as — the team hopes — a higher percentage of people completing the TCC in a timely fashion.

The team has only been working on the app for a few months, so they have some areas they want to improve. Better privacy protection and a way to anonymize the data the app provides to the university is on the list, as is adding more flexibility to the scheduling. A fine arts major might be creating a sculpture for their TCC, so the standard deadline template wouldn’t be very useful.

Komorek provided a lot of feedback while working on her TCC this year, creating a workshop for local micro-entrepreneurs to learn about digital marketing. Hermano is also going to use the app this year for his own final project, which is of course about Minha Jornada. “I intend to use it, use this project as my final thesis,” he said, “like a meta final thesis.”

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