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San Diego State University

Fowler College of
Business Administration

SDSU Students Create Revolutionary New Classroom App

Course Key, developed by a team of San Diego State students, allows professors who teach large classes the ability to take attendance, offer on-the-fly classroom polling or quizzes, and allows students and professors the ability to interact in and outside of class via smartphone, tablet or laptop.

The systems works when students log on by using their smartphone to read a QR code shown on the front screen of the classroom, or by typing a code into the Course Key homepage on their laptop or tablet that is announced by the professor at the beginning of each class. Upon activation, the software ensures the student is within the parameters of the classroom through GPS and Wi-Fi recognition.

Professors have a limited window of time and limited ways to deliver course material effectively to their students.
Luke Sophinos
Luke Sophinos scowling while on a cell phone

Course Key founder, Luke Sophinos

The user-friendly app is currently being used in three large SDSU classrooms with close to 1000 users and many more expected to come online within the coming year.

Course Key wasn’t even on the radar screen when SDSU marketing junior and founder Luke Sophinos’ decided to embark on a business. He initially envisioned a tablet computer engineered solely for academic test-taking purposes. When he ran into some snags in his initial business plan, he went back to the drawing board and emerged with the idea for Course Key.

“Professors have a limited window of time and limited ways to deliver course material effectively to their students,” said Sophinos. “In a lecture hall of over 50 students, it is hard to determine attendance and encourage active participation. So we’ve created a GPS-based system that lets a professor know who comes to and stays in class, provides instant feedback for quizzes, and – coming soon – will allow students the ability to integrate the course syllabus into their calendar.”

In a lecture hall of over 50 students, it is hard to determine attendance and encourage active participation.
the Course Key team

the Course Key team during the app’s development process.

By August 2014, he had assembled a team of other SDSU students and two professionals to help him develop, market and launch the Course Key application. The team got two SDSU finance lecturers, Seth Kaplowitz and Stephen Blum, on board to test the alpha product. Students are required to pay $20 each semester to use the app and both the professors and students are able to take advantage of Course Key features such as getting instant feedback on quiz questions and being able to interact student-to-professor, professor-to-student, or student-to-student on assignments and lessons via a classroom chat channel.

Currently, the team is planning to ramp up to 6,000 users at the SDSU campus by the fall semester of 2015 and 10,000 by spring semester of 2016. They are also making plans to move beyond the SDSU campus with their novel approach to academic management systems and have already laid the ground work for their first round of financing in summer 2016.