Education Technology

NOMI: a tool to secure professor-student connection


  • Whitney Scott (WS), Director of Faculty Development, CSUN
  • Tiffany Navales (TN), UI/UX Designer & Front-End Developer, CSUN

What is it like when someone addresses you by your name? When someone, you don’t expect to know you, says your name, what is your reaction?

“Nobody cares what you know until…they know how much you care.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Why is this important?

Higher education is built largely on what we know. Building relationships is important to humanizing the classroom experience…and learning names is key! Names are political, they represent history and experiences before they come to the classroom. Is there a way for technology to help in this process?

  • ISR: Instructor Student Relationships. Higher quality IS relationships is correlated to student success. Are students engaging? Are instructors calling students by name? Some benefits: motivation, attendance, reduced disruptive behaviors, student willingness to take risks, building trust.
  • People who share traits, attitudes, birthdates are more likely to relate better.
  • Development & oxytocin: generated by the frontal lobe when people are interacting and connecting. Using a student’s name in class helps to create a welcoming environment that can help do this. By contrast, cortisol is generated by an activated amygdala, which is anathema to learning and engagement.

Labor Intensive Paper Strategy

  • Use paper strips with student names written on them to learn student names
  • Have students write their names on construction paper, held in front of them, then take a photo. These images were then combined into a Word document…all students in a class in one document. Very labor intensive!

Student Driven Process

  • Why not use canvas? Canvas can upload a photo/avatar. Face recognition could be difficult when a student uploads (avatars, photos that are outdated, heavily filtered photos). It’s also not very mobile friendly
  • What are the challenges for faculty learning their student’s names?
  • Do you think all faculty would use this?
  • How big is a typical classroom?

NOMI: Names Of Matador Individuals (“Know Me”)

  • Class roster automatically imports
  • Easily review students by semester
  • Take photos of students within the application
  • Take private notes to help remember student interests, likes, similarities, etc.
  • Shared photos so that the more faculty use the web application, the richer the database
  • Integration with a student profile manager for students to individually upload their photos for larger classes
  • Test yourself with flashcards to learn student names
  • It’s mobile friendly!

Tiffany gave a demo of NOMI and the functionality

Q: how long did it take to get the app to this stage? TN: It took over a year.

Q: is this used by the campus? TN: it’s not a campus-wide rollout

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
– Maya Angelou

By Paul Schantz

CSUN Director of Web & Technology Services, Student Affairs. husband, father, gamer, part time aviator, fitness enthusiast, Apple fan, and iguana wrangler.

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