When Sophie Bolzer was getting her Master’s degree in strategic management, she would stress during her commute between Salzburg and Innsbruck in Austria, worrying about the hours she was losing when she should be studying. She looked for podcasts related to her field but ended up simply recording her own notes and listening back to them on the drives.
Once she had all those audio notes, though, Bolzer wondered if there was a way to share them with her fellow classmates. Eventually, she teamed up with developer Erfan Ebrahimnia and the two founded Audvice, an app for creating and sharing educational recordings. You can make playlists of your own tracks, as well as others’. Bolzer calls it “Spotify, but for learning.”
The idea is that by reading, speaking aloud, and listening, students will be more likely to absorb the information than just poring over their notes again and again.
In the app, there are buttons along the bottom for collections, discovering new tracks, and recording your own. “That makes it really easy for you to also, directly in the app, create content yourself and upload it to the library without using any other tools [or] devices and without needing technical skills to produce content,” said Bolzer. Recorded tracks can remain private to the user, but for now, shared content will be available to everyone on the app.
Audvice is only a couple years old, and the content is all in German, for now. “In the beginning — it’s a crowdsourcing system — and we had a massive chicken and egg problem,” said Bolzer. They couldn’t get users without content, but they also expected to rely on users for creating the majority of the tracks. The team bulked up the library with in-house content. For now, it’s also leveraging the community to flag inappropriate content, though Bolzer says they may one day use speech-to-text capabilities to help flag certain words.
Because of copyright issues, users can’t simply read an entire chapter of a textbook into the app. The tracks are limited to six minutes, and the idea is to distill your notes so they fit that timeframe. Bolzer says there’s no plan at the moment to pay people to create content; she said that will help dissuade people from over-uploading, putting up a mass of unhelpful tracks as opposed to a smaller selection of quality content. “We want people who are intrinsically motivated to produce content, to share content,” said Bolzer.
In mid-December, Audvice won the Red Bull Basement University competition, which brought together participants from 25 countries. Their projects all focused on improving student life. As the winners, the team will continue to develop Audvice through the Fab Academy program.
One improvement Bolzer wants for the app is the ability to share tracks with just a select group of people. This would help her market Audvice to universities and businesses who want to keep some content private for students or employees. “We see our customer as a university paying for an exclusive library or a company paying for an exclusive library to kind of subsidize,” she said. “And we can still offer the basic product for free to students.”
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