With some help from the app Pocket Points, students are getting paid to go to class and professors are finally getting undivided attention. The app, available on the iTunes App Store and Google Play, rewards students for keeping their eyes on their professors instead of on Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, Tumblr and Twitter.
Every time the app is opened and the phone is locked while on the University of Oklahoma campus, users rack up Pocket Points that are available to use for discounts on Campus Corner, throughout Norman and online.
One place on Campus Corner incentivizing students to focus on their education rather than Instagram is Pita Pit. Manager Robert Maucere says the collaboration with Pocket Points came about five months ago after talking with one of their representatives.
“We decided it would be a financially good option for us and our customers,” Maucere said. “That way they get a little bit of a discount savings and we’re getting a little bit of profit off of the business they’re bringing in.”
The Pita Pita manager also mentioned how digital discounts are the best way to reach students because students "are more likely to use the app to get deals rather than actually coming in the store and getting printed ones.”
Pocket Points can also be used to get 10 percent off any purchase at New York Pizza & Pasta — all for locking your phone. One of their employees, Kat Carter, said when she first heard about the potential to work with Pocket Points, she thought it sounded really good for their business and especially the students. Carter also stresses the importance of the app because it’s an innovative way to give Sooners discounts while also keeping them alert in the classroom.
“You go to class every day so the points add up very quickly,” Carter said. “There’s so many places to use it and we offer so many discounts, why wouldn’t you lock your phone for some discounted pizza and pasta?”
One student at OU racking up Pocket Points is Cassidy Kelley. The Sooner first heard about Pocket Points when one of her friends was bragging about a shirt she had saved up for. Kelley has been racking up points, prizes and free food ever since.
“Although staying off our phones in class is something we should already be doing, having the incentive from Pocket Points is the first thing that has ever actually motivated me to do it.”
The graphic design student also hopes places on campus will get involved with Pocket Points and make it a bigger incentive for students.
Another Sooner putting down her phone and picking up some points is Laci Ralstin. The freshman saw someone redeeming their points for free chips and a drink at Pita Pit, so she downloaded the app and, just a few weeks later, got free Christmas gifts for everyone she knows and started excelling in her classes.
“Having to put down my phone made me more aware of how much I wasn’t paying attention in class," Ralstin said. "Although Twitter still calls my name, it’s more than worth the wait if I’m getting some free food out of it.”
The pre-pharmacy student said she would like to see Norman-area coffee shops collaborating with Pocket Points as well.
“I would love to get discounts on my coffee,” Ralstin said. "Whether it’s at the Starbucks on campus or Crimson and Whipped Cream, college students need their coffee so I’m sure people would stay off their phones for some discounted caffeine.”
One associate professor here at OU who is finding many benefits from using Pocket Points is Theresa Cullen. As an Apple Distinguished Educator and the director of the one-to-one/1 to 1 iPad program, she is no stranger to technology.
“One of the greatest challenges that people are facing with technology is thinking about appropriate time and place, and this app helps people be aware of how often they’re touching, using, looking at their phone,” she said.
The associate professor said she was was extrinsically motivated as soon as she heard she could get discounted pizza for putting up her phone. Cullen also said she would definitely encourage the app use in her classes.
“Anytime you can get something for free or at a discount when you’re broke and a student is awesome.”
Students can get a kick-start to their point gathering by sharing a personal promo code with friends. The more students who use Pocket Points, the faster the rewards come in, so set down your phone, take a few notes and start getting free stuff, Sooners!