Surge of Innovation

UNC professor’s software offers revolutionary solution for field-based experiences for students, supervisors alike

A screenshot of Apprentice, a mobile solution that centralizes management of internships and field-based experiences. See slideshow below for more screenshots.

Software invented by a startup company co-founded by a University of Northern Colorado faculty member offers a revolutionary solution for improving student learning in internships and other field experiences.

The startup also paves the way for the expansion in tech-transfer projects as part of UNC's focus on innovation.

Associate Professor Elysia Clemens, Ph.D., in the Department of Applied Psychology and Counselor Education at UNC, and her colleague Adria Shipp, Ph.D, partnered with software developers to create Apprentice, a mobile application for managing field-based experiences for students and supervisors.

Without the application, students and their supervisors must rely on numerous systems for record keeping and progress monitoring. Apprentice allows students to use mobile technology to record, view and upload data, including audio that can be marked with comments or photos; log weekly hours with graphs to chart progress; and monitor areas of growth through color-coded evaluations from supervisors. Supervisors can use the system to directly observe student work remotely while students can use the system for internship and practicum purposes from their own mobile devices

"There's nothing like this on the market. It centralizes all field-based data points in a secure environment," said Clemens, adding that Apprentice complies with federal confidentiality requirements. "It's designed to facilitate student growth, align with academic standards, and aggregate data for accreditation reporting."

The first version of Apprentice was released and presented this week during the American Counseling Association conference in Honolulu, Hawaii. Clemens and Shipp say Apprentice is ready to implement with counseling programs this fall "with hopes to adapt the technology for other disciplines."

The two collaborators came up with the idea for the software a year ago after experiencing inefficiencies in supervision of field experiences, first as graduate students and later as faculty members. UNC embraced the concept and encouraged Clemens to collaborate with Userfinity, a firm in New York, to develop the application for the university's use, as well as for future use by other institutions.

Teresa McDevitt, Acting Assistant Vice President for Research, indicated that Clemens' inventiveness is a resource that will help the university thrive in the years ahead: "Innovation is the lifeblood of any university, but at UNC, ingenuity has a special purpose — it enhances our work in education and our ability to contribute in practical ways to our community. I admire Dr. Clemens's resourcefulness and am energized by the creativity I see in her and our other faculty and staff."

Reinforcing this theme on a broader scale, Provost and Senior Vice President Robbyn Wacker has initiated Innovation@UNC, a program that encourages faculty and staff to share imaginative ideas. This program has already begun to generate promising leads with novel learning technologies, methods for supporting students, and high-demand academic programs in emerging fields.

The university also recently established UNC BizHub, an incubator for educational and entrepreneurial services to help build sustainable businesses and is in the process of establishing the IDEA Clearinghouse, a suite of services that will help university researchers navigate the process of bringing their innovations to the marketplace.

Clemens emphasizes the benefits that her new mobile application has for students: "Prospective counselors can get the feedback they need, thus will be better prepared when they enter the profession. This has been an exciting project to work on and will improve our ability to support students' learning."

For more about Apprentice visit: