NoteBowl was selected as one of 20 startups to attend the EDUCAUSE Conference in Orlando last fall.
NoteBowl was selected as one of 20 startups to attend the EDUCAUSE Conference in Orlando last fall.

Alumni Startup Helps Students Control Chaos

Two UA graduates developed NoteBowl, a social learning platform that makes managing classwork easier for college students.
March 2, 2015
The NoteBowl executive team is composed of recent UA graduates Alec Stapp (left), Alex Slaughter and Andrew Chaifetz.
The NoteBowl executive team is composed of recent UA graduates Alec Stapp (left), Alex Slaughter and Andrew Chaifetz.

Upload your homework to Blackboard. Schedule a Google Hangout with your group members via Facebook Messenger. Track your class schedule in UAccess, but manage study sessions on your Outlook calendar.

Most students are well familiar with the rigmarole associated with managing the various technology systems associated with attending college, but a couple of entrepreneurial University of Arizona students sought a better way.

"I was really frustrated with the current platforms, and thought of a better solution," said UA alumnus Andrew Chaifetz, co-founder and CEO of NoteBowl, a social learning platform that integrates classroom management and communication channels into a single, easy-to-use resource for students and faculty.

Chaifetz co-founded NoteBowl in 2010 from his dorm room during his freshman year at the University alongside fellow UA student Alex Slaughter.

"Being a student and going through this experience for the last four years, I understood what the problem was for these classrooms," said Chaifetz, who graduated from the UA's Eller College of Management in May 2014.

NoteBowl is designed to help students be more organized and manage their coursework using a simple interface that also makes it easier to communicate with their professors and fellow students. It offers a number of tools to help students manage their workload, such as agendas, calendar syncing, push notifications, an instant messaging system and other features.

In addition to streamlining the functionality of several learning management systems, NoteBowl also integrates the framework of social media to create a more engaged environment in which students can interact.

"The classroom is a social experience," Chaifetz said. "We're extending that social experience online. You can continue to talk with other students and collaborate with groups using NoteBowl."

NoteBowl was introduced to the UA in May 2014 during a pilot in which three faculty members used the platform in small class settings.

Today, NoteBowl is piloting a much larger program at the UA under University Information Technology Services and the Office of the Chief Information Officer. NoteBowl now has more than 1,700 student users at the UA, and it features 15 faculty members from across campus using NoteBowl for 24 University courses.

The platform also is being piloted by faculty members at Arizona State University, Ohio University and Pima Community College.

Chaifetz said the company is looking for faculty members who are interested in trying out the platform for their courses.

"It comes down to engagement," he said. "'Are my students really learning? Am I teaching them effectively? Are there ways for me to communicate with them better?' NoteBowl provides an experience where they can get that feedback instantaneously."

Chaifetz added that he hopes to build on the momentum surrounding NoteBowl. The company was selected as one of 20 startups to attend the EDUCAUSE Conference in Orlando last fall. He said the next feature added to the platform could be an activities feed that would help students get involved and interact with others across campus.

"Overall, our goal is to help increase student success in and out of the classroom," Chaifetz said. "We're extending beyond the classroom environment."