Learning at Your Fingertips: Former UI Students Develop New Apps

By Jill Kasparie, Reporter


By Jill Kasparie

CORALVILLE, Iowa - A new technology company is springing up in Coralville.

It involves some former University of Iowa students who are working to help other students.

A tiny room inside an old brick building serves as their office now and doesn't look like much, but for four friends it's where their business, Higher Learning Technologies, all got started.

"It has been a blast coming to work every day seeing the same guys I've known for ten, fifteen years,” Ben O’Connor.

The crew has developed learning-based apps for smart phones and tablets. CEO Alec Whitters said he came up with the idea because he needed help studying to get his dental license.

"I found myself carrying around these flash cards that were all over the place,” Whitters said.

Well, now there's an app for that.

"You select one, and it will flip the card over and it shows you the answer there,” Ben O’Connor said.

First they created an app for students studying for a dental license exam. Then, in the last couple of weeks they started up another app for nursing students.

UI student Laurice Harris turns the app on quite a bit as she starts her prep work for her nursing test.

"It's different. There could be some stuff online; you can take other classes , like it would be really big books, but it's all kind of compressed into this app on your phone, which is really cool,” Harris said.

More than 3,500 people across the U.S. and the world have downloaded the apps.

"Illinois, Michigan, New York, California, all have more usage than Iowa"

So, the friends and coworkers hope to move out of their small office soon and create a multi-million dollar company.

The team said their apps cost $30 and $60, but they allowed many UI students to download the apps free as a way of giving back to their alma mater.

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