Scholarship makes good use of summer study break

A scholarship from the University of Waikato has given a student the opportunity to create apps over her summer break, and experience the rewards and challenges of ‘real world’ research.

Jemma Konig was awarded a Summer Research Scholarship for the 2013/2014 summer break.

“I saw this scholarship advertised and thought it would be an amazing opportunity,” Konig says. “It was a real honour to be selected as so many people applied for it.”

Konig, who is now in the third year of a Bachelor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences degree majoring in Computer Sciences, says completing a paper based around Android development in 2013 may have helped in being selected for the project she worked on.

The $5000 Summer Research Scholarships from the University of Waitako offer opportunities in various disciplines. Over the summer study break recipients work full-time for 10 weeks on a research project.

Scholarships are open to undergraduate, final-year honours and first-year masters students enrolled at a New Zealand or Australian university.

Konig worked, under the supervision of Computer Science Professor Ian Whitten, on extending the use of flexible language acquisition (FLAX) language learning activities to mobile Android devices. It’s possible that iOS development will also happen in the future.

The University of Waikato’s open source software FLAX is used as a tool for teaching and learning a second language. While the language learning activities were available on large screen web-connected devices, they were yet to be accessible on small screen devices.

Konig developed a shared Android library application to make it easier and faster for developers to build other activity applications. In addition, she also developed an activity template to base future applications on, and Collocation Dominoes and Collocation Matching, two FLAX activity applications.

The two apps are published on Google Play and are free for downloading and use.

“One has had 500 plus downloads, the other 100 plus and I was really pleased to see this as I never expected them to get this many downloads,” Konig says.

“I hadn’t had any experience with this magnitude of existing code before so it really built my knowledge of how it all works in the real world.”

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