Scansistant: an app for mobile learning using Near Field Communication

19 mei 2014 door Karin Clavel

This summer, two EWI students Dino Hensen and Tim Ypeij worked on developing an Android app for TU Delft to provide online instruction and information on the use of a machine someone is standing in front of.

By Karin Clavel

Image all the different machines and lab equipment at TU Delft that require specific instructions to operate. Yes, we have dedicated, knowledgeable and responsible lab or workshop managers, instructors, assistants and they are indispensible. And yes, we have manuals too! But with hundreds of new students arriving each year that require machines to make models and prototypes and use equipment for their lab courses, maybe some of these instructions could be put online, with tips and tricks to share.

This summer, two EWI students Dino Hensen and Tim Ypeij were working on developing an Android app for TU Delft to do just that. Using Android phone’s ability to scan Near Field Communication (NFC) chips that you can stick as labels on a machine, you can put your phone near the label and get a set of step-by-step instruction videos right there with the machine in front of you. iPhones and Windows phones do not have NFC support yet, so the app also works if you scan a QR tag or type in a code. The benefit of using NFC is durability of the label. The result was a very workable beta version called Scansistant consisting of the Scansistant app, a server for storing and streaming video’s that serves the app through an API and a website for TU Delft staff to add and edit the instructions. See:

Mobile learning is often successful in context and in informal learning settings [1]. For this Scansistant also provides the possibility to upload comments, pictures or videos from students. Students can then learn from each other. They can share tips & tricks but also showcase the end result: the prototype, model or a successful experiment.

During the project, Dino and Tim discovered that for some equipment a personal instruction will always be necessary. In the welding lab, using your smart phone is dangerous because you have to take of your protective goggles to look at the screen. But potential users and instructors were mostly positive about the app. They first tested the app at TU Delft Library using the coffee machine and then made a nice demo with instructions for the laser cutter at the IWS workshop (3ME).

The Scansistant project was carried out within the ICTO project “Mobile learning”. The main goal was to gain experience with and find new applications for mobile learning by way of experimenting with practical solutions. We also wanted to involve students to think about mobile learning from their own perspective. If you are interested in taking Scansistant out of beta or want to discuss other applications of mobile learning at TU Delft, please contact Cock Huizer.

The bachelor thesis describing the details and process of Scansistant is available online from TU Delft Library institutional repository.

[1] Ann C. Jones, Eileen Scanlon, Gill Clough. Mobile learning: Two case studies of supporting inquiry learning in informal and semiformal settings
Computers & Education, Volume 61, February 2013, Pages 21–32




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