TakeCare App – an integrated students’ wellbeing service on the go

The TakeCare team from the University of Cranfield were a winning team at the Jisc Summer hackathon and talk about the app they developed….

TakeCare was our project tittle, or #takecare as the brand, which is an integrated students’ wellbeing service on the go specifically designed with university students in mind.


Take-Care App


Figure 1: #TakeCare Interface

One motivation for this project was the personal situations we experienced individually during our academic year so far, especially being from different countries, where discussions on mental health have only recently been gaining more exposure. And even then, they are limited to the ones that are less stigmatised, such as depression and general anxiety. While our backgrounds influenced this idea under the students wellbeing hackathon theme, we found that this is a shared but repressed experience which affects university students and/or young adults uniquely.

With this idea, our discussions, and what we’ve seen in mental health existing analogue and digital support, we formed a case study to identify the gaps in the existing mental health technology industry incoperated with those from our university students health and wellbeing centre. What we found was that the industry was moving forward in integrating higher-end technological facilities, but it was severely lacking in the human aspect of the industry while students centre could not give the actual real time solutions to students need given the challenges of time, location including anonymous comfort of student’s discussions. The industry push is currently towards self-help and guides, but we are losing touch of the severe importance of a community. Often a call to a name without a face can feel like a shout into the void. On the other hand, sharing issues is a good process to de-stress and ground an individual, while also removing them from the sense of isolation.


To address the issues, we thought of something simple that is familiar to everyone, and accessible. The answer was a peer to peer support forum-based application. To us, any situation is an emergency, as wellbeing comes first, and we accommodated that thought in our design phase. This resulted in the design of a system that would allow the user to instantly connect with anyone from their respective institution, with whom they can communicate their struggles and issues. This person could be a peer, alumni or a volunteering mentor. These three categories were chosen based on their reliability to the user personally, as people from all these are able to relate to the user.

Another aspect of this application would be to make the user more in-touch with their situation throughout their peaks of academic year study and allow them to be more proactive in handling them. To incorporate this, another feature we added was the quiz and tips element, which would engage the students in thinking about their state of mind, and provide adequate resources.

Having JISC accept our idea which we applied from Cranfield University’s intranet, was very exciting as it is something we are passionate about. It was an opportunity for us to work on our project with the availability of lots of support and a chance to meet likeminded people with brilliant ideas.

On the first day, four of us joined the teams in Kents Hill Park Conference and Training Centre in Milton Keynes, after which we had an amazing dinner in Purple Mango. The night provided a great environment to relax before the big day, and network with interesting people from across the UK universities.

The second day was the main day of the hackathon, and we were given support and advice to work on our individual projects. To accommodate the time, we had to work parallelly. While Carol Nandozi and Khadijah Abdullahi Habib created the content of the application, Clinton Machoka focused on creating the forum and quiz sections with server side technologies, and Shafa Rahimun developed wireframes of our application prototype. The prototyping tool was Proto.io, as the web-based tool was ideal to quickly create an initial mockup from scratch.


Figure 2: #TakeCare team hacking on!

As we were progressing with our individual tasks, more branching of the project became interesting to us. The first one was the incorporation of distance-learning students. While our focus was initially on on-site students, one conference session on mental health that two members attended made us realise that distance learners also had similar struggles, with the added fact that they work in isolation and greatly requires the support of the institution and the sense of community. Furthermore, we had the chance to have a conversation with Alex who pointed out the importance of the sense of community, talking about a similar project that he worked on that gave us some areas to think about.

One of the challenges that we faced as a team was the connectivity issues related to server-side technologies which severely impacted the presentation of our specific ideas to our audience. Another challenge was to keep the focus of the app on a specific idea, instead of distributing the focus to different features – and this was a feedback that we received on the presentation day from our audience. However, the prototypes and the contents were heartily appreciated and this also helped us to be established as one of the winning teams in the hackathon.

Being able to present on the third day with the other universities in front of academics and industry experts from the Change Agents Conference (CAN2919) was a thrilling but humbling experience. The conversations that we had with the JISC hosts, academics and fellow participants simultaneously encouraged us and stimulated us to think about the significance and further applications of our idea.

Along with skills on presenting a power pitch in three minutes, which was also guided by Cranfield University’s Bethany Centre previous training. What we also learnt from the hackathon were the importance of early planning. While some planning helped us to kickstart early on the first day, some user survey or testing was needed that would help us to curate our focus on the features that are more needed.

Another learning point was how we were presenting our solution which was highly sought after but was not presented to a higher demographic and that’s something that we are planning to work on.

And finally, for some of us, this was the first hackathon experience, and this gave us the knowledge and skillset of not only developing and idea on a small, fixed amount of time, but also create a human-centred solution that goes beyond the capability of technology.

From this event, we are motivated to bring our idea further and possibly bring this into promotion for and application in the universities as, from the experience of a student representative, a solution like this can provide an improvement in the student health and wellbeing during their study for a better experience while boosting their achievement.

Winning ideas from Summer Hackathon

Summer 2019 Hackathon group photo

Summer 2019 Hackathon group photo

The summer hackathon took place at the student Change Agents Network Conference from 29-30 May 2019 at the Open University, Milton Keynes. Seven teams participated in the hackathon developing ideas around supporting health and well being, using AI for learning and implementing the intelligent campus.

Alex Lydiate from Jisc who ran the hackathon says

Helping to run hackathons is among my favourite activities in my work at Jisc. I am always left inspired by the innovation, the engagement and the hard work of the students. Our hackathon at the Change Agent’s Network conference, hosted exceptionally by The Open University, saw some great ideas being worked by a superb cohort of students from across six institutions.

I was particularly impressed by our winners from UCL. Their project, to create a chatbot which allows medical students to practice conversational diagnosis. was exemplary in preparation and implemented with precision and elegance. This was a perfect example of the opportunity I cherish from these events, to turn my mind to new ideas and to learn – I learnt that medical studies refer to the process of diagnosis as algorithms. Natural, then, to take such a formal flow and implement it as they did – a beautifully clear idea, and one I hope they will continue developing.

The winning teams

AvaMD was created by two post graduate medical stduents from University College London. Using AI they developed a prototype to train and assess medical students comminciation skills when interacting with patients or responding to an emergency. They have produced a blog post on their experience and provided a demo site for the product AvaMD.

TakeCare App – an integrated students’ wellbeing service on the go developed by students from the University of Cranfield. The app is  a a peer to peer support forum-based application aimed at students, read their blog to find out more about the app and their experience at the hackathon.

And finally the winner of the Jisc Digifest hackathon from the University of Hull undertook another major challenge and this time used cameras to explore lecture analytics and student engagement, they shared this blog on their experience and the product they developed https://na.thaniel.uk/events/2019/05/31/jisc-can-conference.html

We are already planning our next hackathion event, so keep an eye on the Get Involved page  for future events and you still have until 31 July to enter ideas to the edtech challenge competitions.

Summer Hackathon Winner – AvaMD

Ava MD

Ava MD

AvaMD talk about their winning idea from the Jisc Summer hackathon….

“As medical students, we face difficulties in our training. When it comes to integrating the theory of conditions we learn from textbooks into the real world practice of communicating to patients, taking an effective history and formulating a list of differential diagnoses. After all, patients do not attend hospital or GP with a diagnosis label on their head! However, the only way to get good at this is through years of clinical exposure with patients in wards and clinics. For students with limited exposure to patients during their placements, we wondered if there was a way to augment and hone this clinical skill through digital means.

Both of us are medics and self-taught developers, with a particular interest in Natural Language Processing (NLP). We have tinkered around with a few possible solutions of recreating the patient interaction experience for a student to use as a training tool before, but unfortunately, it was only paper napkin ideas until we got an email from our university newsletter advertising a hackathon with Jisc at CAN 2019. We jumped at this opportunity in excitement, and applied in the hope that this could be the chance for us to spend a focussed 48 hour period to finally hack together a solution!

We were thrilled to be accepted and arrived at the hackathon with eagerness to begin. The Jisc

team were fantastic in getting us to settle in and provided a supportive environment from the very start.

During the first day, progress was painfully slow. We realised the problem we faced was bigger than anticipated. We had to spend hours breaking down the key components of a patient consultation so that we could simulate a realistic conversation flow between clinician and patient to then implement into an AI chatbot. We quickly discovered that this was a huge challenge; conversations are highly complex and doctors and patients can say a huge variety of things! In 48 hours, we simply could not account for all the different possible questions a student can ask. We went back to the drawing board, and asked ourselves, how can we create something that is less complex to be able to demo in the next 24hrs yet still be of immediate benefit to students?

We found our answer to be one of the core skills all doctors need: dealing with emergency scenarios. There are national algorithms that outline how clinicians should approach and assess critically ill patients. There are key steps to be taken, that cannot be missed. We decided to translate these algorithms into our chatbot and create a simulation of a critically ill patient where the student must progress through key steps of assessment in order to successfully stabilise and treat their patient.

On day 2, we carefully designed and built our chatbot to be able to prompt and correct the student should they make an error in their assessment, which is essential for trainees to improve their skills. After vigorous training of the chatbot’s AI engine, we finally felt ready to demo our product! After some quick brand designs and a slide deck, we took to the floor and shared our vision for a future where interactive and intelligent clinical medical education is accessible to all.

… And we won! We were overwhelmed by the response from the audience, with many people approaching us after to try the product themselves. We were up against the fierce competition, so this was a huge but pleasant surprise for us. We were so excited that we continued our pace straight on after the hackathon and put together a site (talktoavamd.com). We then fleshed out our chatbot with a few more scenarios and headed down to the medical school library to get some real user feedback of medical students using our product. We filmed their reactions and experience which you can view on our website.

What we learnt hacking Ava MD:

  • Starting simple is a good strategy. Obtain proof of concept before exploring and building complex scenarios.
  • Testing what you build with your target market is the next step post-hackathon. We learnt a great deal after giving it to a bunch of students for a few hours
  • Ava simulating algorithmic emergency scenarios could help medical students hone the skills that save lives.

We believe the use of voice as a training tool is underused, and we at Ava MD hope to bridge this gap and rejuvenate a stagnant medical training sector.

If you’d like to learn more, visit https://www.talktoavamd.com/

Twitter @abdxl_m and @yasmin_abedin

Abdel Mahmoud and Yasmin Abedin

Summer 2019 challenge competitions open

Our summer 2019 challenge competitions are open now for submission of ideas and the closing date has been extended to the 31 July 2019. We are also using a new competition platform which re-introduces voting by staff and students in universities and colleges as part of the shortlisting process.

We have already run one challenge competition and two hackathons this year see https://www.jisc.ac.uk/rd/get-involved/take-part-in-our-edtech-challenge so the next two challenges are numbered four and five. Challenge four is open to student and apprentices and invites ideas about the campus of the future. Challenge five is open to staff or students and invites ideas about how to stop cheating in assignments.

You can go straight to the compeition website and register now or read below to discover more about the challenges competition.

Challenge four: Student of the Future: Campus 2030

What will it be like to study at university or college in the future? Read about innovations around the campus of the future from the Networkshop conference in Share your vision of the campus of the future

We want you to know what you think it will be like to study ay University or College in 2030.  What is the one thing that you feel would improve your experience on your existing course? How might the technology you use today or that will be available in the next 10 years change the learning for the student of the future.  How might Education 4.0 change the design of courses in the future?

We have brought together some useful articles around education 4.0 under a page on Future Trends that looks at what education may look like in the future.

Paul Feldman the Chief Executive of Jisc suggests how technology will change the way we learn in the future in a recent blog post “The potential of Education 4.0 is huge – the UK must take the lead, now“.

Paul McKean (Head of further education and skills, Jisc) has provided a view of the college of the future through the eyes of a college principal. .

But what do you, as a student in higher or further education in the UK think? Submit your idea by the deadline, get support from peers to stand a chance of winning a prize.

Challenge five: How to stop cheating

We all agree that that getting someone else to write your essay or coursework is cheating and not fair on other students who work hard and don’t cheat. Recently this issue has attracted a lot of attention and over the past few years there has been many articles in the press relating to the increase in students using essay mills to cheat in assignments. Essay mills: ‘One in seven’ paying for university essays and essay mill firm targets new students through WhatsApp.

In September 2018 Universities leaders asked for a ban on essay writing companies and more recently PayPal urged to block essay firm cheats.

One of the major suppliers of detection software Turnitin have released a new product to help detect “contract checking” which they define as the practice of using an third party to complete an assignment see Turnitin Authorship Investigate Supporting Academic Integrity is Released to Higher Education Market

The Quality Assurance Agency for UK HE have asked for a removal of adverts for Essay Mills on social media channels see https://www.qaa.ac.uk/news-events/news/qaa-calls-for-online-companies-to-stop-essay-mills-in-their-tracks

What ideas do you have to stop students cheating and handing in assignments that are not their own work?  Is the answer more measures such as above or maybe you have a fool proof idea to detect cheats? With the emergence of data analytics is it time for some radical new approaches to assessment? How might education 4.0 change how we assess learning and remove the need to ditech cheating altogether?

Submit your idea now

To submit an idea you need to register at the competition web site https://jisc.wazoku.com/ccc/edtech-challenges. The deadline for submitting an idea is 31 July 2019 but don’t leave it to deadline.  Voting will then open if there are sufficient ideas to help selection. To vote users must register on the competition site, they will be allocated 10 votes which can be used to support one idea or many. Ideas that achieve 250 votes by the 10 June will be shortlisted and the winner selected by a panel of judges. The winning idea in each competition will receive £500 and runners-up £50. The best ideas will be shared on this site.

Five ideas to improve UK education and research

Five businesses have been selected for mentorships worth up to £10,000 after successful pitches at our showcase edtech event, Digifest.

The successful bidders presented ideas which have the potential to go on to improve, evolve and change UK education and research.

Selected by a panel of judges from Jisc and Emerge Education, the winners are:

Connect2Teach Limited

Designed as a unique knowledge network, the Connect2Teach Limited project connects industry experts to online course providers to develop and deliver relevant courses and increase student enrolment, engagement and employability.

miFuture App

The miFuture App provides better way of connecting school leavers with the world of work, offering them personalised career options in a format that tech-savvy young people are familiar with.


Scholarcy employs machine learning in an app that can digest any research paper, book chapter or report and create a summary flashcard that can be read on any device, instantly providing background reading, key facts and findings.

StudyBundles (trading as CampusConnect)

Connecting students with fellow applicants and student ambassadors prior to enrolment, this mobile app service helps to improve pre-arrival engagement and boost offer-enrolment conversion rates.


A medical training platform, Virti uses virtual and augmented reality to transport users into realistic, hard-to-access environments and safely assesses them under pressure to improve performance.

The mentorships offered by Jisc, Emerge Education and other industry experts include the possibility of up to £5,000 funding, with additional focused support worth up to £5,000.

Nic Newman, of Emerge Education, said:

“This year’s entries have showed very welcome variety and have included tools for mental health, tools for researchers and tools for students to select the right university.

“Apart from the variety, we’ve seen very high skills in presentation, and, more importantly, people talking about the impact that their ideas could create.

“The judges’ decisions are based on this potential impact and on how much Jisc and the programme could help and develop them.”

Sue Attewell, head of change – further education (FE) and skills, Jisc added:

“We’re really looking forward to working with the five winners over the next six months, supporting them to develop their product and business model to ensure a good fit with our members’ needs.

“It will be hard work for the winners, but is sure to accelerate their readiness for market.”

Jisc Digifest 2019 Hackathon – insider views

Hopefully you will have seen Peter Cliff’s blog post below on our recent hackathon, which was a huge success and a really enjoyable experience.

Now its time to hear from one of the participants, Nathaniel Reed from the winning Hull University team on what their experience was like.

The hull team spent the two days building an initial version of an ‘intelligent campus’ application which allows students to engage with student services, find out their schedules and be notified of changes by their institution more easily.

Read Nathaniel’s post here

Feedback from all the participants was that they had enjoyed the experience and all gained something from participating and we ere impressed by the hard work and outputs from all the teams taking part.

We’re planning another hacktahon May 29th – 30th to run alongside the CAN Conference at Open University Milton Keynes, watch this space for details on how to sign up and join us for what we hope will be an equally inspiring two days.



Jisc Hackathon @ DigiFest 2019

Peter Cliff, Senior innovation developer from Jisc writes about the Hackathon he led at 12-13 March at Digifest 2019.

We took advantage of DigiFest 2019 to run a student hackathon alongside the main event. It was great to be able to see the wonder that is DigiFest and I think the students appreciated the opportunity to see the conference too. Before we get to the outcomes of the event though, what is a hackathon?

What is a hackathon?

There are lots of definitions. I think of hackathons as time-constrained events during which teams or individuals work towards solving a problem, often building a tangible prototype. That prototype may be implemented in software, but could just as easily be paper models, sketches, a poem, or hardware to express their ideas. We ask the participants at our hackathons to present their problem and the idea to solve it at the start and present what they built or found out at the end. In the middle we provide the time, space, equipment and sustenance to ensure the participants can work without external worries.

Why run a hackathon?

Because of the time-constraint a hackathon focusses activity on producing a tangible thing. This helps repress inner critics and provides the perfect excuse to note and ignore all the “what if” questions that can limit creativity. Those “what ifs” are not thrown away though and it is through the creative process that unknown issues can come to light. These issues can themselves be a valuable hackathon output. The events also create a strong sense of community, promote team work, co-operation and healthy, friendly competition. They are also a great personal development opportunity, help on student CVs and provide interesting things to talk about at interview – what was the problem and how did you solve it?

Sounds great…but?

The output of a hackathon is often extremely impressive but sometimes this can be misleading. The same things that make a hackathon a creative and exciting event will lead to shortcuts being taken. Software may be created with a disregard for software engineering principles to create well structured, tested and maintainable code. Constraints are ignored: the Raspberry Pi will run fine during the demo attached to a battery on unsecured wifi but attaching it to power and WLAN in an office is going to take time. You are unlikely to deploy the paper-based prototype shelter into the field. It is important to realise that hackathon outputs are the solutions, noted pitfalls and ideas rather than finished products.

Themes and Teams

This year we asked for student ideas to solve problems in the themes of student wellbeing, shaping the curriculum, using AI or intelligent assistants or making campuses more responsive and welcoming. We finalised on seven teams from five different universities and an apprentice team from Jisc.

Digifest Hackathon teams

Digifest Hackathon teams

The range of problems they wanted to address were broad:

  • Student ID cards are easy to lose and create plastic waste (The ‘big’ Hull team)
  • The campus app does not work very well (The ‘big’ Hull team)
  • Lecture sign-in has potential for abuse ((The ’small’ Hull team)
  • Language students may suffer from anxiety and shyness (Huddersfield team)
  • Students with restricted mobility may like to experience things like extreme sports though VR (Buckingham team)
  • Students coming to a campus may want to acclimatise to the culture and surroundings before arriving (Buckingham team)
  • Voice assistants may require proprietary models and applications where they exist at all for a campus (Coventry team)
  • It is difficult to track contributions to group projects, potentially skewing marks (Jisc apprentices)
  • Can AR be used as a technique to improve memory and recall? (Glasgow


The Solutions

In no particular order, here is a summary of the the solutions created:

  • The team from Huddersfield built a flipped classroom to aid learning French – here Moodle was used to create a course for use at home to deliver lectures and other content to the learner. Google Classroom was used as a support mechanism for speaking and writing practice in class or remotely. This mean that shy learners could practice their speaking and writing in a safe environment and this work also suggested using speech interfaces as a means to assess pronunciation. I wondered here if institutions could offer greater support to their societies in using tools like Moodle.
  • Coventry used Google’s DialogFlow to build a campus voice assistant that could respond to questions like “how busy is the Library?”. The great thing about this solution is that it can integrate with existing voice apps such as those built into phones and near-ubiquitous apps like Facebook Messenger. The team from Coventry had built their model prior to the event and worked at the event integrating with several solutions including Google voice assistant and Alexa. Sadly a bug in the framework prevented the Alexa integration but Google worked well and they demoed this working on the phone.
  • The Jisc apprentices built a React-based application and a mobile app that allowed students to upload work and assign a percentage contributed to the project. The others in the could then peer review the work and the self-assessed percentage and post their agreement or otherwise. Disagreements would be dealt with by the tutor. This is a nice idea that we could develop further internally or at future events.
  • The team from Buckingham (a postgrad aided by our new developer Rebecca Flook whose second/third days at Jisc were the hackathon!) explored AWS Sumerian to build a prototype 3D model of a campus, illustrating us of voice to welcome visitors and demoed how videos can be embedded into the VR/3D interface. This team also explored further the issues of using campuses for the first time and suffered from lack of decent WiFi during the event.
  • The ’small’ Huddersfield team (2 members versus the ‘big’ 4 member team) produced a fully working app that used proximity to an iBeacon (a Bluetooth beacon specification from Apple) to prompt via a notification that students to check into their lecture. They also produced a lecturer tool that should show the students who had checked in, provide a real-time question/answer system, display the lecture room schedule (useful if you’re overrunning!) and even a whiteboard.
  • The ‘big’ Huddersfield team created a well designed application that offered a complete on-boarding process to the campus including setting up Eduroam on the device, viewing timetables and schedules and lots of other things including an iBeacon-based lecture check in system.
  • The Glasgow team – who were not developers – worked towards making their idea reality through use of AR toolkits and possibly existing applications. They took advantage of being at DigiFest to talk through their ideas and look at the technology on display. They also had a good conversation with Suhad Aljundi, one of Jisc’s Futures developers.

You said “healthy competition”…

All of the teams worked extremely hard and produced some incredible things. In the end we had to pick a winner and in this instance it was the ‘big’ Hull team for going from a few designs to a well-produced and functional application in a very short space of time. Their solution could solve a number of issues including saving the cost (and waste) of producing plastic cards and hopefully make it clearer why open APIs are the means to developing user-friendly applications and breaking down silos of information. While there was a single winner, there were no losers and all the teams took home a prize.

A huge thank you to all the Jisc staff who helped before, during and after the hackathon! If you want to know more about any of the ideas or make suggestions for future events, please get in touch!

Take part in our Summer 2019 hackathon taking place alongside the Change Agents’ Network Conference 2019 in May.

Filling the pot: The Edtech challenge and a VLE without a screen

“New ideas pass through three periods: It can’t be done. It probably can be done, but it’s not worth doing. I knew it was a good idea all along!”  Arthur C Clarke

We started this challenge as a way of filling the pot with ideas, Arthur C Clarke’s assertion of the three periods of an idea in our mind, never mind whether it can be done, let us first establish what would be a good idea.

Over the last few months we have received many applications to our first Edtech challenge. We were looking for inspired ideas, the grains of digital sand that, if technology were available could become an Edtech pearl. The winners and runners up reflected this philosophy in their entries. What would it look like if we could do what we wanted, unconstrained by current thinking and technology.

The winner was chosen because it not only thought about what was possible, but explicitly looked at the end users, their needs and their behaviours and designed a solution based on those requirements.

The runners up all explored new ways to interface and experience learning, thinking outside the box, and in one case building a box, to suggest what might be possible, someday soon.

The winners of the Edtech Challenge on VLEs without screens have now been announced and you can hear from the winner and judges discussing “Could future VLEs spell the end for screen time.

You can see the submitted ideas from the winner and runsner-up below


Runners up

Shortlisted entries

The following ideas gave insights into the future possibilities and also what is already happening in some institutions.We’ll be exploring some of the themes and messages from these challenge ideas in a future post….

  • Immersive collaboration. Delivering future facing learning environments through virtual reality. Karen Coyle, Coleg Cambria
  • See-Through Lectures, Alice Ashcroft, Lancaster University
  • Gesture-based learning, Charlotte Nash, University of Portsmouth
  • Socrobot Artificial Intelligence Tutor and the Voice Learning Environment, Alex Patel, University of Leicester
  • Learn³, Will Moindrot, University of Liverpool
  • Cognitive Assistants, Aftab Hussain, Bolton College
  • Engaging remote students with practical training in STEM subjects, using a VLE, Lois Gray, North Highland College UHI
  • The Intelligent VLE, Tom Foster, The University of Sheffield

We’d like to thank everyone who submitted an idea to the edtech challenge on VLEs without screens.

Look out for further challenge competitions.

Could future VLEs spell the end for screen time?

Students and higher education staff from across the UK have teamed up to imagine a screenless student experience as part of Jisc’s edtech challenge.

The winner – VLE of the Future

The winning idea from a University of Glasgow team uses the “memory palace” technique to create an immersive environment that aids learning. The vision is for an interactive, collaborative space for independent learning without constraints of time or location.

The judges chose this idea as it best encapsulates the benefits of learning in an immersive environment, is informed by students ideas and addresses accessibility and inclusion requirements.

Receiving the £1,000 top prize are Dr Mary McVey, a lecturer at the University of Glasgow’s School of Life Sciences, and a team of eight students.

The runners-up

Three runners-up will receive a £250 prize. They are:

The Student Body

Mark Shand, from the University of West of England, replaces the VLE interface with a patient simulation dummy, brought to life using technologies such as Bluetooth, sensors and augmented reality to challenge assumptions and requirements about a modern learning environment. The dummy is aimed at nursing students.


Leanne Fitton’s idea, Boxi, pulls together emerging technologies to create a learning companion. The student, from Manchester Metropolitan University, wants to change the way in which we think of VLEs using some retro learning technologies such as paper or a whiteboard, as well as newer innovations including chatbots.

Health + Content + Context

Two University of Hull staff members‘ vision of how, through better use of data, learning can be “dripped” seamlessly into students’ schedules. Thomas Tomlinson and Mike Ewen’s idea can assess health and wellbeing considerations through wearables and seamlessly connects to devices in the university, home and community, allowing students to access learning whenever and wherever it suits them – when they are at their most receptive.

James Seaman, account chief technologist at Softcat, was one of the judges for the challenge. He says:

“The winner and most of the ideas submitted have real-world application potential and the ideas that attracted me the most are deliverable and had direct student benefits.

“Any ideas that create a more in-depth and simple student engagement experience and simplify the use of technology really appeal to me. I am heartened to see the forethought and depth of understanding illustrated in the responses.”

The edtech challenge was open to all college and university students and staff with good ideas to share.

Rev up your startup

Enter our 2019 edtech startups competition and get your fledgling business on track

Read our latest blog on how to enter this years competition and hear from two of last years winners Volo and Synap

You have until 17:00 on Monday 21 January to make your pitch to us.

We’re offering five businesses mentorships worth up to £10,000 from ourselves, Emerge Education and other industry experts. There’s also the possibility of up to £5,000 funding and additional focused support worth £5,000.

Get involved

To take part, simply go to our edtech startups competition and submit a concise summary telling us what problem your product solves and who benefits.

Include information on your business model, your team and a description of the product. You can also provide a short video pitch if you like.

Shortlisted entrants will be invited to a speed pitch process at our showcase event, Digifest 2019, in March.

read more here