Technology Changes Exam Reminders for MSU Students

By: AP
By: AP

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Have u studied 4 the test?

In the old days, college students had to carry around a day planner to keep track of their homework deadlines and quiz schedules.

But a new free service for Michigan State University students offers text messages and e-mail reminders about upcoming assignments and exams.

Remind101.com is an online company founded by Michigan State graduate Brett Kopf and his brother, David, that allows professors or students to upload a class syllabus. The system then will alert registered students for that class about upcoming deadlines.

Brett Kopf said it's a natural extension of the digital world in which students already live.

"Cell phones are attached to our hips. ... This is so much more convenient than pen and paper," said Brett Kopf, 24.

Convenient, yes. But there's also the worry that students who are too dependent on someone else to keep them on task won't develop necessary life skills -- an important part of the college experience, said John Dowell, technology literacy specialist at Michigan State's Learning Resources Center.

"With great convenience comes great responsibility," Dowell said. "Here's a good example. We have a website called

YouVote.msu.edu about the upcoming election. But just looking at the site doesn't make you a responsible voter. You can stare at it all day, but you still have to go cast a vote."

Brett Kopf acknowledges the service is not meant for everyone. Just guys like him who are organizationally challenged.

"I was one of those guys who was unorganized and coming in late and saying, `Hey, what was due today,"' he said.

The old-fashioned paper calendar just wasn't cutting it, and he wished there was a way for someone to just send him a text to remind him that an assignment was due.

It was the a-ha moment that turned him into a budding entrepreneur -- one who understands his target market.

"There will always be people who say, `Heck no, I want pen and paper,"' he said. "They're the ones who have the color-coordinated pens. That's not our market."

However, Brett Kopf is working with Michigan State Professor Constantinos Coursaris on a research project to study whether a service like Remind101 can improve student performance.

"Even if there's just one student in each class who benefits academically, it's beautiful," Coursaris said.

Remind101 only is available at Michigan State so far, and roughly 100 professors have posted class information for the fall semester. Kopf plans to eventually open the service up to other universities.

He said he also has fielded requests from businesses and other organizations.


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