Buddy is an innovative digital-physical button that aims to encourage and increase participation more equitably among students in the classroom. The button is personal, and students switch the hand-raising operation for the speech-speaking permission.

During class, the teacher manages the questions via a tablet screen. Once the question is asked, students can “raise the hand” by clicking on Buddy. A long press means a full vote (high will to participate), and a shorter press means a regret or a lower will to participate. The click gets sent from the moment the click is completed.

The system calculates the three students who deserve to answer the most by calculating several parameters: the length of the click and previous data. The system will prefer to give speaking permission to students who have not spoken before and draw the teacher’s attention. In addition, the system saves the voting data and allows the teacher to learn the participation data after the lesson, even over time.

How does it work?

Buddy is made up of two parts, a mechanical-physical button and an app installed on a tablet. During activation, the teacher selects the “Ask a Question” button in the app and an HTTP request is sent to the students’ buttons. The button consists of an Adafruit Circuit Playground Express and is connected to the network via ESP8266 model M1 Mini.

The button has two lighting systems, a LED circuit (NeoPixels) at the top of the button, and LED lighting that surrounds the button and illuminates outwards. When prompted, a blue light turns on on the device. This lighting signals to the student that he can press the button. When pressed, an electrical circuit closes, the student receives a vibration feedback and the LEDs on the button slowly turn green. The student has the option to control the willingness to participate, according to press duration. When the student decides the amount of LEDs reflects his level of confidence in the answer he can stop pressing and the data will be sent to an algorithm that will calculate and pass on to the teacher his recommendation, regarding the right to speak.