Anyone who’s trudged through a college-level math class knows the pain of having to buy a graphing calculator. Not only are they huge and clunky, but they’re expensive-most are over $100. For the average college kid, spending $100 on a calculator is a stretch. But for low-income students, it’s just about impossible.
This isn’t lost on Central Arizona College mathematics professor Mallory Dyer, who’s watched many low-income students drop her class because they couldn’t afford graphing calculators. Instead of brushing it off, however, she sought a solution. Professor Dyer created GraphLock, a $5 mobile application with all the capabilities of your modern graphing calculator.
Dyer’s central concept isn’t new. Teachers and developers have suggested similar apps in the past; after all, we use our smartphones for just about everything else, so why not math? But until now, security concerns have prevented these ideas from becoming a reality. Class instructors and testing proctors worry that smartphone access will allow students to cheat via the Internet, so they’ve prohibited mobile devices entirely.
GraphLock solves this problem and then some. With its testing-safe “lockdown mode,” students are prevented from accessing any other mobile app during an exam. The student selects lockdown mode within the app, enters a duration and a unique code, and enters a test session monitored by a teacher or proctor. During the exam, the student can only access GraphLock and an emergency phone call button. Lockdown mode is terminated when the exam time is up, or when the proctor removes the student from the testing session.
GraphLock carries all the capabilities of a modern graphing calculator and presents them in a clean, intuitive way. At just $5 per download, the app is far more affordable than any calculator sold at office supply stores or even Amazon, where they cost anywhere from $40 to $160. GraphLock also helps lighten up college students’ heavy backpacks, and prevents students from accidentally leaving their calculators at home.
Dyer’s app will officially launch this November. GraphLock is currently on pre-order via Indiegogo, where backers can reserve a download for $5 or donate a download to a low-income student for the same price.
“I witnessed inequality in my own classroom between students who could afford the calculator and those who couldn’t—they struggled, lost confidence, and some even dropped out. This broke my heart,” says Dyer. “[GraphLock] is the one and only scientific and graphing calculator app with a lockdown mode, meaning no calls, no texts, no Internet, no cheating! So students can now pay $5 for an app that they can use in the classroom and on exams.”
Consider backing GraphLock’s Indiegogo campaign, and keep an eye out for the app’s launch this fall.
All images by GraphLock.