academe (acadima)

Long Title: academe (acadima)
Universität Zürich
ETH Zürich
Université de Lausanne
addoit GmbH (unfunded partner)
Domain: ELS
Status: finished
Start Date: 01.08.2012
End Date: 30.04.2013
Project Leader: K. Niffeler
Deputy Project Leader: S. Frédérickx

acadima (academe) provides a Swiss-wide solution for a learning and test flashcard system. The self-training and -assessment application is optimized for mobile use and allows students to learn and prepare individually or together for their exams. Lecturers can use the system within several didactic scenarios and build question pools more easily.


Component Description
Information acadima information website
Portal acadima portal at UZH (AAI Login).
Initiative Interaktives Lernen Fragenpool Grundstudium | BIO-APP
Die iStudenten Article in Tages-Anzeiger

acadima provides university students throughout Switzerland with the opportunity to write, edit and share both learning and test flashcards targeted on their modules and final exams. Students can enhance the quality of the cards by providing mutual feedback and quality assessments. In this way, a dynamic question pool is developed that can be readily retrieved by students via their AAI access. The flashcards can be called up on smartphones or via a web interface.

The challenge is to provide learners with a more interactive and collaborative education experience when working with the acadima flashcards. We want to tie acadima into a wider solution, since, together, we can create a meaningful application. Winning applications have to be sufficiently unique. We can attain this goal through the uniqueness of Switzerland's university network.

acadima should be operated by the university in the future.
In 2013 projects in the frame of Innovedum and IIL will be conducted. Improvements and simplification of the web GUI and mobile GUI are planned, as well as enhancements of the information website and dissemination activities.


academe offers learning and test flashcards for imparting teaching contents, which are primarily created by the students. These flashcards can be called up with smartphones or via a web interface.
It offers for self-organised learning. Through feedback and assessments, students are able to mutually improve the quality of the flashcards. A dynamic question pool is created for the individual modules and courses, increasing students' motivation and their enjoyment of learning. Together, we are cleverer. The "crowd" works more precisely than certain students working on their own. This collective intelligence goes hand-in-hand with academe, giving rise to a new learning culture. Examination material is learned independently of time and place, and lecturers acquire an overview of the contents that their students are studying; they are able to influence this, and can deploy the tool in a didactically meaningful manner.
The links between different universities and the resultant openness mean that cards can be swapped and useful cards can be kept in personalised card collections.

  • Targeted learning: using meta data (university, course, specialist subject, topic, etc.) and through individualisation of the datasets (expansion of existing flashcard sets through one's own or pre-existing learning and test flashcards).
  • Promotion of collaborative learning: through the navigation structure (universities, faculties, specialist areas and modules), students will search for contents that are important for their fellow students too. This working together jointly on flashcards will be supported by the attractive technical implementation.
  • Quality: Assessment systems and comments box, review options, feedback (specifying why an answer is right, or wrong, compilation of the questions in the framework of courses and modules, use of old examination questions, etc.). It will be endeavoured to achieve high-quality contents. Limiting academe to universities will ensure that the level is correspondingly high.
  • Data protection: one central concern is that of ensuring data privacy. Personal data may not be misused, and students must not be distracted by advertising.
  • Scalability: potential links between academe and existing systems and its integration in other university Apps will be checked.
  • User friendliness: immediate accessibility of questions and answers during learning, intuitive user interface for the App, easy-to-use input screen, insight into personal learning progress, etc.


A Swiss-wide solution for a learning and test flashcard system not only makes the application more interesting for students but also avoids a high financial outlay.
academe will be accessible via AAI and the SWITCHtoolbox. The free accessibility of the application for students of Swiss universities constitutes a further bonus, and distinguishes academe flashcards from commercially available ones.

Benefits for students:

  • academe replaces conventional learning cards
  • academe helps use time spent waiting (at tram stops, during train/tram journeys) in a meaningful manner
  • academe supports cooperation, exchange and the division of labour
  • academe provides motivation

Benefit for lecturers:
academe can be used within different didactic scenarios. It allows to increase interaction between lecturers and students (also during lectures with large classes). Wide question pools with a good quality can be built together with students. Lecturers can use academe for their practicals and therefore ensure that the subject matter is learned on a much more active basis - during the course already and not just at the end. academe supports also subjects where drill and practice methods are used (as languages) and facilitates collection and distribution (for example of specific word lists).


academe can be divided into three sections:

  1. academeweb (compilation and administration of learning and test flashcards; simple text editor, picture, audio and video can be included)
  2. academemobile (iOS and Android; cards can be called up in offline mode; learning card and test card type) and
  3. academesync (synchronisation process between the database and the mobile devices).

academe not only offers the application for mobile devices but also an associated web application, which is used both to enter the learning and test flashcards and for administration purposes. This is to be integrated in the SWITCHtoolbox, since it is optimised for the user administration of AAI accounts and user groups can be set up very easily.
The system architecture will permit its integration for a wide range of LMS (API, webservices).
Client application: the App obtained from the App Store runs on the client side (mobile user terminal device). On the client side, the App is delivered with the SQLite database. SQLite is a program library that contains a relational database system. Inside this database, the data is synchronised by a specific J2EE repository. As soon as the data from the repository has been loaded in the smartphone, the App can also be started in offline mode. The UI App is largely database-controlled. This prevents an update of the App via the App Store from being necessary whenever there are any changes in the program flow.
Application server: here, the webservice and the data distribution application (data repository) run on a J2EE server (in this case a JBoss instance). This J2EE application serves the exchange of data between the Client App (download, upload, authentication data...) and the back-office services (synchronisation with other reference systems and CMS produts). JBoss is freely available software and can be obtained at no cost, including the source text. The JBoss application server offers individual services that are freely configurable. Each service is packed in a Java archive of its own, the so-called service archive. A JBoss instance is not compulsory. It is also possible for other J2EE products to be used.
DB server: A relational database will be available on the DB server (in this case, a MySql database, similarly an open-source product).
Web server: An open-source product will be employed on the web server.


The project is based upon a perliminarily developed prototype.
The following milestones are planned:

  1. Orders being placed, sync mechanism implemented, test phase 1 ended, progress monitoring, quality checks
  2. academeweb Part 1 completed, test phase 2, progress monitoring
  3. academeweb integration in SWITCHtoolbox, test phase 3, progress monitoring
  4. academeweb Part 2 finished, test phase 4, progress monitoring, quality checks
  5. Development of academe Android Part 1 completed, test phase 5, progress monitoring
  6. Development of academe Android and iOS Part 2 completed, test phase 6, progress monitoring, quality checks
  7. pilot project AAA Start, improvement of all applications, progress monitoring
  8. Test phase 7
  9. pilot project AAA end, test phase 8, quality check
  10. Acceptance of the applications, "final release" of all the applications
  11. Portal switched live, announcing academe, marketing carried out