In 2018, Wageningen University and Research lecturers, Teun Vogel and Dr Jerry Maroulis developed a game. It largely focussed on testing and enhancing the estimation skills of first-year BIL (Bachelor International Land and Water Management) students. The Peek story starts here. The students were required to visit a number of locations in the Belmonte Arboretum in Wageningen. They had to answer field-based questions sent out to them via WhatsApp. Upon evaluation of the ‘game’, the students found the game experience very positive in enhancing their understanding of the landscape. Based on this outcome, Teun and Jerry then contemplated, why not develop an app for doing this?
In September 2018, the Peek Story continued in the form of collaboration with Label Vier. The first prototype was developed. After testing the prototype, a designer and some developers were selected from which a user-friendly back end of an app was created. The first version of the Peek app was released in February 2019. After some rigorous testing and fine-tuning, the Peek app was ready for its first intensive test within a course.
In May 2019, exactly one year after the first WhatsApp experiment was conducted, 80 students from the course Design in Land and Water Management 1 used the Peek app during a field trip in Limburg. The experience was extremely successful with no technical issues to report. More importantly, there was significant positive feedback from students and also from some very happy teaching staff.
After a number of successful implementations and further development when COVID-19 took hold of education in the spring of 2020, Peek has developed into a successful start-up. In September 2020, Peek became independent as the first official WUR spin-off. With that, the way to other universities and partners was open.
What’s with the name Peek?
Gert Peek was a teacher at Wageningen University and Research from 1977 to 2018. Through his enthusiasm and professional knowledge over many years, he successfully brought generations of students a step further in their collective understanding of soil landscapes through his dedication to providing engaging and hands-on fieldwork. The legend goes that he could tell you the composition of any soil by taking a bite of it! The Peek app represents a fitting tribute to Gert’s legacy in soil science.