Grad Student Adam Lupu Wins Startup Contest with Learning Sciences Project

Grad Student Adam Lupu Wins Startup Contest with Learning Sciences Project

Adam Lupu

Learning Sciences master’s student Adam Lupu won a local business pitch contest with a project generated in assistant professor Michael Horn's Introduction to Design for Learning Sciences class. Lupu described his social learning network for medical students at Startup Evanston Pitch Day, along with three other finalists.

Lupu’s winning idea, called “Med Pimping,” is a design for a web application intended to support medical students’ learning. The title refers to doctors grilling medical students with rigorous questions, as when the students go on rounds.

As a learning scientist, Lupu was interested in the “tough learning environment” of medical school. "Part of my job is to go into the culture and find out about it," he says. As he investigated, he found that more than 40 percent of medical students suffer from depression. Many also experience test anxiety, isolation and hazing.

“How can we tackle this problem?” he asked. His answer was to create, along with three fellow students in LS 425, a web application for medical students offering powerful learning tools and customizable test preparation. The “group study room” offers ease, flexibility and support while students prepare, according to Lupu.

The application provides a database of key questions, based on input from medical students, along with tools such as a visual chart of a person’s knowledge base. As a result, students can identify where they need to test themselves, Lupu notes. His idea is to charge a monthly service fee for access to the database. Along with marketing to students, he sees potential in selling the idea to schools since they can learn what challenges their students most.

Students want technology to help them learn, as well as social experiences, including collaboration, camaraderie and support, Lupu found through his research. Current solutions, including online forums, flashcard applications, reference tools and test preparation classes, are poorly designed, he says. "What we now know from Learning Sciences is that testing yourself on material out of context isn't retainable."

This quarter Lupu is using an independent study to learn programming and develop the initial launch of the MedPimping online network as well as connect with potential co-designers/co-developers for a full rollout starting in the summer. As part of the prize package he received some free legal advice and office space. Eventually Lupu plans to add “a game layer" to the network. Also, the same concept could apply to law students.

The initial research and design was a collective effort by Lupu and three of his classmates, Learning Sciences master’s students Christina Haschka and Shalinee Mattoo and engineering PhD student Julie Hui. The main project in that class is to work with a team to design a learning environment or artifact. Lupu’s team designed the MedPimping social learning network, and he then combined the design with a business model and some market research to do the pitch for the contest

Startup Evanston Pitch Day is a quarterly event that highlights four growth companies and organizations focused on solving problems in unique ways. Participants provide a 20-minute pitch and answer questions, and judges give a prize for the best pitch based on potential for business success. More than 20 teams entered the contest.

See the video of Lupu presenting his idea at http://www.startupevanstonpitchday.com/

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 2/16/12