A new classroom chat app

I teach an applied math course in the Data Science Initiative at Brown University. I’ve been using Julia for the coding components of the course, and I’ve been very happy how that has enabled me to focus more on the mathematical ideas and spend less time on the quirks of the programming environment. If you’re interested, the course content is available in website form at Data Gymnasia and as a YouTube video series with accompanying Jupyter notebooks.

While teaching this course, I started noticing that I needed much more tangible visibility into how students are thinking about the questions I was asking them during class. I used polling software for that, and while it’s a lot better than nothing, it isn’t the same as a conversation.

So a friend and I built a free web app to facilitate a live conversation between and instructor and their students. The idea is to use some natural language processing to group similar student messages so that the instructor can respond in batch. As an instructor, I’m really happy with how well this approach has been working in practice, and I’m hoping that others might enjoy it as well. Since it was built by/for someone teaching a course in Julia, it has the formatting affordances you’d expect for programming, like code blocks and inline code (in addition to formulas, images, etc.).

If you’re interested in more details, there’s a feature walkthrough on the landing page: https://prismia.chat.


Looks interesting! Is the source code for this open? Was it perhaps even written in Julia?

The repo is still private currently. I would have loved to be able to use Julia, but I needed to learn Javascript for this (it’s a React app).