Should College Campuses Ban Mobile Technologies?

Should college campuses ban mobile technologies?

Remember what universities used to be like before the onslaught of personal technology in every classroom? Wyoming Catholic College does, and they are eager to bring their university back to a simpler time. Students are now required to turn in their cell phones to student leaders at the beginning of the semester. Students may access their phone for emergencies, and their phone is returned to them when they leave campus.

In addition, television and most websites are not permitted in WCC residence halls. Many students have been surprisingly amenable to these policies, claiming that the create a culture of “true friendship, true virtue, true study.” All of this is done in the name of improving academic success, but is it an efficacious strategy?

Many studies do show that limiting mobile technology in the education domain has a positive effect. Cell phone addiction, after all, is a near universal phenomenon, with many alarming trends:

  • 30% of people admit to check their phones while dining with someone else.

  • 40% check their phones on the toilet.

  • 24% admit to checking their phones while driving.

  • 9% check their phones during a religious service at a house of worship

  • 54% check their phones “while lying in bed” — in the middle of the night, before going to bed, or as soon as they wake up.

On the other hand, implementing this policy at every university campus might be far more difficult. A study published in the Journal of Behavioral Addiction claimed that cell phone users undergo withdrawal symptoms on par with being separated from a romantic lover. Moreover, social activities are not the sole purpose of mobile technologies, and many use them for professional, artistic, educational, and other beneficial purposes.

We at Scholar Hero argue that the problem is not the technology itself; it’s the way that the technology is used. There are far too many apps and widgets for distracting, frivolous activities and not nearly enough for constructive ones. For this reason, our development team is driven to add more clarity and purpose to the IT sector before more campuses take away the means of access to our services.

What do you think? Is it better to change the technology or simply remove it altgether?



Scholar Hero’s Presentation at Google Pittsburgh: Thrival Innovation 2013

Founder Lee Ngo pitches to an audience at Google Pittsburgh on 9/7/2013. Photo courtesy of No Typical Moments (
Founder Lee Ngo pitches to an audience at Google Pittsburgh on 9/7/2013. Photo courtesy of No Typical Moments (

Has it really been a week since our company’s first major presentation to the Pittsburgh technology
and entrepreneurial community?

After several all-night preparations and collaborations with other teams incubated in the Hustle Den, an incubator owned and operated by Thrill Mill, Inc., we pulled off what felt like the impossible: a concise 5-minute pitch at Google Pittsburgh demonstrating our proof of concept. Here’s a clip of the presentation (scroll to the 1 hour, 17 minute, 36 second mark for our presentation):

Video courtesy of Thrill Mill, Inc. (

Lamentably, the video does not do the presentations justice. It is amazing how much our companies have grown over the last several months. In our case, we were little more than a handful of good ideas that needed to be refined into a bona fide company. For our successes, we must thank Thrill Mill for the opportunity they’ve given us as well as the countless people who have contributed to our development along the way.


Founder Lee Ngo poses with founders Rachel Bane and Jimena Quan of Mix: a salad-themed restaurant for the Pittsburgh community (photo courtesy of Scholar Hero)

Still, we have a long way to go. A few more milestones ahead include:

  • Overhauling the landing page to reflect our new direction
  • Creating a public beta version of our product
  • Securing some early seed funding to help us support that beta
  • Expanding our network via social media (especially this blog)
  • Solidifying our core founding team
  • Generating that first dollar of revenue

How we do after a long day of pitching: The Thrival Music Festival (photo courtesy of Scholar Hero)

Keep an eye on this blog and our landing site for more updates!


Lee Ngo is the founder and executive director of Scholar Hero, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Preparing For Progress: Digitally Advanced Schools

In 2008, produced an article that found and rated the top 20 “wired” universities in the United States. While slightly dated, it provides an interesting look into which schools had the technological foresight prepare for our current Age of Progress. To determine the overall strength of each school, and The Princeton Review looked at four digital categories:

  • Academics

    • This encompasses the school’s ability to provide courses that specialized in emerging technologies as well as the accessibility of online lectures.

  • Student Resources

    • What digital services do colleges provide? Do they offer their students an e-mail address and access to the school’s network? Do they offer their students software, such as anti-virus? What about hardware?

  • Infrastructure

    • This looks at the ability of the students to access digital resources. This includes wi-fi coverage and the availability of modern computers labs.

  • Tech Support

    • How easy is it for students to get help? Is there online support available, or has the school merely settled for an online FAQ?

With these factors in mind, here are the five schools with the greatest foresight (you might be surprised by the list):

(Photo Source: ilovebutter

(Photo Source: ilovebutter

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


(Photo Source: Russell Feldhausen

Kansas State University

(Photo Source: Edgar Zuniga Jr.

(Photo Source: Edgar Zuniga Jr.

University of Utah

(Photo Source: IK's World Trip

(Photo Source: IK’s World Trip

Bentley College

(Photo Source: The Marmot

(Photo Source: The Marmot

Pomona College

What colleges do you think should be in the top five? Sound off!


Nathan Repp is a writer for Scholar Hero, Inc.

Increasing The College Vote: A Startup’s Digital Solution

Why is it so difficult to get 11 million college students in America to vote? Some reasons include:

  • Re-registration due to frequent changes of address

  • Absentee ballots are a chore

  • Busy with demands of school

  • Unable to find proper forms

  • Apathy (and young people have a lot of it)

Thankfully, a technological breakthrough can potentially save this broken system and galvanize the youth vote.

Founded by Democracy Works, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, TurboVote hopes to turn the entire voting process into an easy digitized process. Students fill out registration or vote-by-mail forms online, and TurboVote takes care of printing and mailing the proper forms to the proper locations. Students can also keep up to date with elections through text and email reminders.

While there is a cost per form, it is a cost covered for students who attend universities that partner with TurboVote (currently it stands at 58). The company hopes to make their service an automatic opt-in during college registration.

Is this the solution to college voter woes, or could this system create more problems than it hopes to resolve? Weigh in below.

You can learn more about TurboVote at


 Nathan Repp is a writer for Scholar Hero, Inc.

Is academia a “no-win scenario”? Scholar Hero does the “impossible”

Getting a startup off the ground is a lot like taking the Kobayashi Maru. Getting an educational startup off the ground, however, is a lot like taking the Kobayashi Maru if you’re not Captain James T. Kirk.

Earlier this month, Greg Meyer of Information Maven wrote this article on why working on a startup is a lot like the Kobayashi Maru simulation test featured in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and the most recent 2009 re-boot film.

For the really uninitiated, the “Kobayashi Maru” is an unbeatable test, frequently described as depicting a “no-win scenario.” In the ostensible context of the film, the test examines how a Starfleet cadet responds under impossible circumstances and, ultimately, the potential commander that they will be.

The certificate remains blank for a reason… with one exception. (Source:

How is the Kobayashi Maru like a startup?

For metaphorical purposes, Meyer applies the scenario to the archetypal startup:

“Startups are created with the purpose of becoming big, failing, or being bought. They seem feel like the proverbial no-win situation because everything has a competitor. If someone isn’t spending money with you, they are spending money on something else that they’ve probably been doing for a long time. And there’s so much noise everywhere. How can anyone possibly create something new?

Creating something new can take many forms. Like Kirk, the startup founders who solve this Kobayashi Maru problem change the rules of the simulation.”

In other words, startups need a James T. Kirk, someone who is incredibly agile, gifted at tactile thinking, and willing to “bend” the rules in order to claim victory. (He remains the only person in Star Trek history to ever “beat” the Kobayashi Maru.) Innovation comes in many forms, but it usually happens when someone will maneuver through the obstacles that they will inevitably face while trying to confront the status quo.

How is this relevant to Scholar Hero?

Do we have a James T. Kirk? We’d like to think we’re all carry an essence of Kirk within our hearts, but that means our challenge is to change the rules of the game. In our case, it’s academia, the space which we see to be ripe for much change. Unfortunately, academia is a space where:

  • There is a lot of resistance to change, perhaps moreso than most spaces of innovation
  • A lot of companies are also trying to change it, but their efforts are falling short
  • There are limited resources to devote towards any significant change
  • Forces beyond our control can completely marginalize our efforts, such as government policy or economic fluctuations

So can anything be done? Absolutely.

scholar hero fire

Heroes don’t ask what they can or can’t do; they only ask what they will or won’t. (Source:

What would James T. Kirk do? This is what we ask ourselves at the start of every day (seriously).

Even though we might be up against a much more adamant status quo, the size of the mountain should never deter whether or not we want to climate.

What we will do is change the system. We will find a way reconfigure the very essence of whatever is afflicted by the malady, or we will redefine the problem altogether if we must.

How will we do this? We have a lot of products in our backlog, but right now, we are proud of two in particular that we will debut in a few months and soon to our private beta testers. We’re on well on our way to make a huge impact!

Like many startups, Scholar Hero started with a strong sense of conviction towards the ability to change the world for the better. We are convinced that the change will happen out of a sheer necessity for the survival of the academic community.

And we are the ones to deliver that change.