Concord High junior creates online system to help classmates choose courses

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Starting high school is hard enough in normal times.

Preparing to do so when ordering a stay-at-home is even more difficult.

Usually, eighth grade students at Rundlett Middle School spend a day at Concord High each spring to acclimatize to the building and schedule, and have easy access to their guidance counselors to ask questions about course selection. in person.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, none of this will happen this year.

Concord High Junior Grennon Gurney, who is taking the CRTC’s computer engineering course, wanted to do something to help. While learning at home, Gurney worked on a new app that can be used not only by incoming freshmen, but all Concord High students as well when selecting courses.

He said the process of transitioning to high school was difficult for him three years ago, even under ideal circumstances.

“The process of selecting and choosing classes – what do I think is of value now? What do I want to take in the future and what is best for me after high school? “- it’s quite stressful,” said Gurney. “There was a list of courses and descriptions that the students could access, but it was overwhelming. “

“Class Compass,” an online system accessible through the Concord High site, will help students narrow the course offerings to their interests.

“Freshmen will be able to take a survey and say, ‘These are my interests, this is how much I care about these different things and based on their responses, the algorithm will choose the things that are right for them. better, ”Gurney said.

He has already finished coding a first part of the course selection site for incoming freshmen.

However, he said he was probably still a few months away from the project’s completion. Although he knows how to compile the information he needs, how to do it weighs quite a bit on his mind.

Some ethical questions that Gurney considers: “How do I classify people and group them – what’s the fairest way to do it?” What’s the best way to get people into groups to best recommend things that they will enjoy and do well? he said. “I know what I want the program to decide, but I’m always trying to figure out how I want it to decide. ”

For example, an ethical question is to know how much the marks of the pupils will weigh in the classes which are recommended to them.

“I want people to be grouped together so that they can get specific and true recommendations, but I don’t want them to be defined by their groups and unable to move forward,” Gurney said. “It’s not something I can sit down and code right off the bat.”

Gurney said he reached out to Concord High’s administrative team to discuss the fairest way to approach some of these issues.

He said he wanted to consider the interests of students, as students tend to do better in the courses that interest them the most. He said he hopes to use exit surveys evaluating courses once they are completed to get a feel for a course’s satisfaction for a particular student.

Gurney started the CRTC Computer Engineering course in second year and will complete it this year. Most students enter the program as juniors.

He said he was grateful that he was able to take advantage of his free time to learn more about machine learning and artificial intelligence when ordering stay-at-home.

Gurney said he wanted to work in computer science or computer engineering by making custom products for people who help complete a task or meet a need.

“I’m not really into game development or hard code. I really like the more personal aspect of computers, the way they are used with people, ”he said.


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