The tool, according to founder and University of Auckland alumni Foss Shanahan, is designed to augment students’ learning by providing a space for them to share and review answers collectively. It encourages users to pool information together through a points-reward system, and in return provides exemplar questions, lecture slides, and notes from the educator to review when studying for classes. It also allows users to share and compare notes, ask questions, and receive answers, much like Piazza.
However, Shanahan says Siva differs from Piazza in several crucial ways. Firstly, unlike Piazza (which Shanahan calls “an unstructured list where you must search for help”), Siva “show[s students] the help [they] need, right next to the slide or question which makes [them] need it”. Secondly, Shanahan says he believes Siva is more visually sophisticated: the team has dedicated time and energy to ensure the website is readable and enjoyable to be in. Lastly, he says the points reward system (which offers students various incentives to provide notes, questions, and answers) actively encourages students to pool resources together, creating a wealth of shared knowledge tailored specifically to the course at hand.
Siva was trialled in Maths 208 and Finance 261 during summer school. Shanahan says the trial period gave the team much needed insight into students’ study habits and needs. “A lot has been changed,” he told Craccum, going on to say he believed the iteration process had enabled the team to hone in on what students really wanted from the tool. He indicated the development phase was far from done though, saying the team would “continue to develop our product so that we give students the best learning experience possible”. Craccum was unable to get in contact with anyone who used the tool, but did notice the Siva website featured recommendations from several students.
Siva is currently set to launch for another semester in Maths 208 and Finance 261. Shanahan says he is confident Siva will be rolled out across more papers over the coming years. “We want to continue to expand into other papers so we can help as many students as possible to succeed and enjoy learning” he told Craccum. He indicated he was already in talks to implement the tool in other papers, saying “hopefully you’ll be hearing a lot more from us”. Shanahan says he encourages students to message the team at Siva with any questions, queries, or suggestions for classes to expand into. The team can be reached at email@example.com