New digital study platform will connect students, foster community



As students continue to navigate remote learning and prepare to return in the fall, Portland State is launching a new communication platform to facilitate students connecting, growing community and getting help from fellow classmates.

CircleIn is a digital studying app and website backed by the National Science Foundation to provide a space for students to connect and create an immersive learning experience. PSU is joining more than 80 other universities across the country in utilizing this new program for peer-to-peer learning. CircleIn will launch at PSU in the spring term.

“I'm excited at the prospect of finding new ways to help students connect with each other and with academic support services to build community and foster engagement,” said Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs Matthew Carlson.

CircleIn will also integrate with The Learning Center, myPSU and other social organizations via a community page. Andrea Garrity, Senior Project Manager in the Office of Student Success, said this integration is also key to student success. The Learning Center will use CircleIn to expand the academic support already offered by allowing peer tutors and academic coaches to view student questions within CircleIn and connect them with further resources as needed. By integrating these tools, students will be able to find help more easily when they need it, Garrity said. 

CircleIn will also provide a platform to make connections between students in each class, Garrity said class rosters will be automatically loaded into CircleIn so students can connect easily to chat, ask questions or get homework help.

“Because it’s peer-to-peer, you can feel very safe and comfortable asking questions about your coursework,” she said. “It's not being facilitated by someone else.”

Using the platform also comes with a financial incentive for students. A variety of corporations, like Starbucks, Target and Amazon, have donated gift cards that students can earn via a point system. Students earn points by interacting with and helping other students in CircleIn.

“The goal is improving and fostering peer connection between students,” Garrity said. “It was something that has been a focus of Students First before being remote, and being remote made this need even more visible.”

More information about CircleIn is available on the Student Success website.