The vast majority of human knowledge is still not on the internet. Most of it is trapped in the form of experience in people's heads, or buried in books and papers that only experts can access. As a consequence most people don't have the knowledge they should, and don’t have the access to resources that can reliably interpret that knowledge.
We noticed a gap in our education system and wanted to fix it. Most of our education system’s curriculum is geared towards foundational skills - math, science, english, maybe art or playing an instrument if your school is lucky enough to have an arts program. But where do I go if I’m interested in finding someone who can teach me how to write in calligraphy? Or put together a wooden birdhouse? Or learn to invest my money? While core subjects prove to be important in bolstering our intellectual curiosity and career-preparedness, research tells us that consistent learning and skills development is a critical component of innovation and creation. It can also improve mental health and help us live our lives better.
Ellevate aims to bridge this gap between traditional subjects and non-traditional skills by allowing anyone to easily share their skills-based knowledge, and in the process, build connections with folks in the local community. This is a community platform, just as much as it is a learning, education platform. As we grow and scale, we intend to expose users of all backgrounds to more non-traditional skills while creating well-rounded, happier communities.
We are confident that learning is better when it's in person, which is why our product is aimed at users of all background, but especially those from underrepresented communities and folks without access to various educational resources. More often than not, it is difficult to navigate the Internet in search of a specific, reliable answer to a question. We've been there. Moreover, registering for online or group courses can be extremely costly and require long term commitment, while we might just need a few hours of meaningful mentorship in order to acquire a new skill. With this in mind, we have created an application to reimagine education as we know it by helping people connect and learn from each other and thus grow as a society, without financial and logistic barriers. Whether it's a stay-at-home mom who's eager to share her cooking or a senior citizen, we want to facilitate the seamless transaction of knowledge across all members of society. Google democratized information. Our plan is to democratize skills.
What it does
Ellevate is a centralized platform where users connect and network with talented people & skill teachers in the local community. The application enables a user to indicate interests, connect with the right people in the locality, and receive personalized training from talented people as well as share their skills with others. Most learning platforms lack personal connection and specificity, or are primarily career focused, and are oriented towards learning technology. Ellevate is unique because it works to establish personal connections. Our platform also rewards mentors in credits, which can then be used to schedule a session as a mentee. Thus, user retention is maintained via a continuous sharing of knowledge and skills. The user is always informed of their progress and activity on the platform with the help of lucid data visualizations.
One particular aspect of our platform that we wanted to hone in on was financial literacy skill-building. We want to help mitigate the fears and trepidations that surround investing, the stock market, and all things portfolio/wealth management. That's why one aspect of our platform is geared towards investing. Our algorithm allows a user to test the waters by indicating potential companies they'd be interested in investing in (in the form of NYSE stock symbols) and receiving a comprehensive analysis of the precise allocations that would optimize cumulative returns.
How we built it
We built our application using React and Firebase. We have used Nivo for data visualization. We also utilized Firebase for hosting the application and user authentication.
Challenges we ran into
As we progressed we faced gradual impediments and questions that led to some more iterations than expected. We found ourselves having quite a bit of trouble reading and writing to the database after experiencing several user permission issues. At the onset, we were having trouble getting npm react set up on our machines, thanks to a hidden node modules folder. We also had trouble rendering a particularly finnicky React component, which was a large part of our project.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We are especially proud of the impact the application can have on society. With Ellevate, we present before you a platform, which brings a personal touch to knowledge sharing in this world where everyone is desperately looking into a black mirror. Because user experience is a critical part of our project, we are also proud of how intuitive the application UI is. We believe that easier access to education and knowledge sharing is important for any society to thrive. With our application, we strive to bring technology to education and mentorship for a better future.
What we learned
We learned a lot of things while building this app:
- Web app development
- Hosting web apps
- Front and Back end development
- Database querying
- Strategic, incremental development
- It's okay to ask for help!
What's next for Ellevate
Our goal is to break down obstacles to non-traditional skills-based education, reinvigorate traditional educational platforms by promoting skill diversification and support mentorship and networking between community members. The journey doesn't end here. We aim to take Ellevate to another level and make it running in production. There are a bunch of things that we would like to focus on.
- Seamless integration and visualization of investment portfolio and stock market analysis
- Implement Strategy Learner algorithm to evaluate and compare success of manual strategy versus learner strategy
- Automate portfolio analysis by implementing a decision tree learner, random tree learner, and bag learner
- Develop a system in which users can transact with Ellevate credits
- Integration with GeoSpatial API to discover local mentors/mentees easily
- Intelligent mentor discovery with machine learning
- Recommendation system for skills, venues, and people
- Android and iOS applications
- Integration with Google calendar
- Recommend resources (Amazon marketplace)