Inspiration

Last semester, we were astonished by the phrase from our sociology professor, " _ It's ironic how we have a world-class university, yet we can't keep our own children educated. _ " These simple words revealed the local community's relatively lackluster education quality and many of the local families are incapable of finding qualified teachers to instruct their children. Hence, we came up with this idea of creating a self-sustaining community with the name of CUConnect to utilize the local education resources, including the domestic students who might have extra time and a good intention along with all the international students who might want to have some outside earnings to lighten their tuition pressure but limited by their visa status.

Relationships between Three Parties

CUConnect aims to connect three major parties: University students, local families, and local businesses. We have designed a sustainable model to make these three parties mutually beneficial. Their relationships are visually presented in the diagram below.

Local families provide convenient and flexible part-time job opportunities for University students, while the students offer tutoring services at very affordable prices.

Local families give tutoring fees to the local businesses to exchange for high-value coupons for students to use, and local businesses benefit by improving their branding effects in the local community and increasing the number of their clients.

Local businesses prepare coupons for students to enjoy their services. Meanwhile, students add to the businesses' revenues by direct consumption and word by mouth.

What it does

One of the most important highlights for CUConnect is an online synchronizing canvas to be used in the tutoring process between the University students and children in the local families. This canvas is capable of synchronizing all drawing, erasing, and resizing behaviors in all clients. It also offers download functionality for the canvas to save the lecture notes.

How we built it

We used socket.io and node.js to create a canvas that can be synchronized across different devices. We also used HTML, CSS, and Javascript to create an interactive front-end experience.

Challenges we ran into

It took us a long time to design a sustainable education model. We judged that for this platform to truly work, it has to provide benefits to all the parties involved. We also encountered the problem that the library we used contains bugs that have not been fixed for several years. Hence, we had to create patches by ourselves to use some of its functionalities.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We believe this model is truly sustainable to work in this particular local community. It is specifically designed for Champaign-Urbana, and with some improvements, it can really help the local families and form a positive relationship among different local parties.

What we learned

We learned to use the Python Flask framework and jinja2 template engine to effectively host server and create templated HTML code. We also learned to how to use socket.io to create a duplex connection between servers and clients.

What's next for CUConnect

We believe that CUConnect can be improved with the incorporation of the voice-call system to help with communication during the online lectures. Also, since it is a project for the local community, CUConnect needs further publicity to increase its awareness in this community.

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