Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

New app Pocket Points encourages students to pay attention in class

(Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune/MCT)
(Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune/MCT)

For most students, staying off your phone during class can be difficult. According to a study done by the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in 2013, over 80 percent of students admitted to using electronic devices for non-class related activities. The technological world is addictive for many students, causing them to use their phones in almost any environment. Phones are collectively seen as a deterrent to participation in class, but an app called Pocket Points is challenging this with a new initiative.

Pocket Points is a relatively new app released in September of 2014 by Mitch Gardner and Rob Richardson, both students of California State University. The app was made because Richardson found himself frequently bored in class and was inspired to marry the idea of an exciting app to class participation. Richardson, a computer science major, designed the app and Gardner, a business marketing major, dealt with signing up local businesses.

The app works by giving students points and rewards for not using their phone during the period. Students must open the app on campus and then lock their phone – they will gain points until they decide to unlock it. The points can be used to redeem discounts and free products from businesses both local and online. Students can receive discounts and prizes on all different types of products, mainly food and clothing, from the participating businesses.

The app has already received a following from the University of Massachusetts community. Conor Curran, a resource economics major, found out about the app from a brother at Kappa Sigma. He’s only used it for three weeks but has already enjoyed its features.

“What I like about the app is how it’s so tailored to Amherst specifically. Even the little mom and pop stores are in on the action,” Curran said.

Curran’s favorite discount is going to local pizza shops to receive either free drinks or free sides with a meal. On the app, local businesses such as Amherst Golf Club, College Pizza, Exscape Smoke Shop, The Works Bakery Café and even Subway are just a few of the participants, and that number is growing.

Anyone on the app has the option to suggest a business, which is Curran’s favorite feature of the app.

“People should know that they have some say with what the app provides. You can suggest local stores that aren’t yet on the app, which kind of acts as a mini ad agency,” he said.

Businesses can directly get involved by adding or updating coupons for the app’s users. This app allows local businesses to market themselves as well as create a paperless way to advertise the business, and allow students to learn more about them.

Pocket Points promotes competition by having leaderboards for the involved campuses. For every day, week, or all time, students can see how many points other students on campus have earned and can even look at all college campuses to see how students compare.

Pocket Points only works specifically on campus or in classrooms so it encourages students to work while being rewarded for it. Only when a student is on campus will points be rewarded. By doing so a student has more trouble cheating the system, and are unable to leave their phone on at night and rack up points.

However, this system is still gameable as students can potentially use their computer instead and purposefully do nothing in a campus building while racking up points.


Troy Kowalchuk can be reached at [email protected].

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