School students are alone at home with their coursework, while their parents are at work or unable to help them. Covid-19 further adds to this issue with schools around the globe having closed and school students getting even less support than usual.
A global problem requires a global solution. Our goal is to digitally connect school students (tutees) that need help with their coursework, with university students (tutors) that are able to provide that help. For free, since many university students are willing to volunteer their time, in order to gain valuable teaching experience and give back to society at large.
The tutees simply register on the tutify.org platform in their country, specify the subjects they need help in, and let our matching algorithm work its magic. The tutors which the tutees will be matched with, have to undergo a screening process, in order to create a safer learning environment for everybody involved. This concept is already being successfully executed in Germany, Austria and the UK.
However, since both education and culture differs greatly between countries, we have decided against running one central platform. Instead, we have created tutify.org, an open source platform that allows motivated teams all over the world to set up their own tutoring platform, modelled after the successful operations in Germany and Austria. Being an open source movement, we aim to provide all the source-code, guidelines, and support necessary for the people that want to start a tutoring platform in their country. This ensures that they are up and running as fast as possible and hopefully allows thousands of tutees around the globe to benefit from free tutoring. Being an open-source movement has the additional advantage of harnessing the collective power of people all over the world, in order to further develop the software, processes, and guidelines necessary to support tutees all over the world.
Wait! It already works
In Germany and Austria corona-school.de and studyroom.at already provide our service to almost 10,000 students. In Germany our matching algorithm has already connected over 8600 tutors and tutees. We pride ourself on being able to provide a fully developed backend, including an API for easy integration in existing applications. Our screening tool, fully integrated with the backend, provides a seamless experience for both the screening team and the students that need to be screened. It already helped to facilitate over 2000 screenings for corona-school.de. Since sometimes a match between tutor and tutee might not work out, or the tutor has additional capacities to help multiple students at a time, we have developed a fully fledged out user portal. It allows both tutors and tutees to edit their data and request, or offer, additional help. However, all of this would be rather difficult to understand and even if set up correctly does not make for a successful platform, yet. We have been working hard over the last couple of days, to provide all the documentation necessary to run a successful tutoring platform. Fueled by the expertise we have gained by operating corona-school.de we have open-sourced and translated the processes and guidelines we use, to run a team of over 80 volunteers in multiple teams, ranging from marketing, over screening, to legal.
What I learned
This weekend has been a very intense one for everybody in our team. tutify.org is our first open source project and we worked hard, in order to better understand the world of open source software: from licensing to hosting the source code. We worked hard, and continue to work hard, on commenting and documenting the source code in order to make its deployment for the wider community as seamless as possible. This helped us to learn additional best practices of open sourcing software and documenting code.
Similarly, we have learned how to structure and explain the many implicit processes that have been of fundamental importance for the running of our tutoring platforms. We have also picked up on the usage of Webflow and Video Making software, which we used to create our projects website and marketing video. Both of which will be useful not just for presenting the project to the jury, but even more importantly, for attracting motivated teams that want to bring free tutoring to their countries.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
During this weekend we managed to join the resources from studyroom.at and corona-school.de and formed one motivated international team. We have made significant strides in clarifying the concept of tutify.org and in identifying and solving important issues, regarding its execution. We managed to create an appealing website and video, which will undoubtedly help in motivating more people to join corona-school.de and studyroom.at in solving their countries educational crisis. We have also made significant strides in documenting our source code.
We are confident that our roadmap will help us to reach our goals in the next few weeks. Our next step is to continue to document our code, and develop the explanatory texts and guidelines necessary, and to open source all of it.
Until tutees around the world return to their school we plan on continuing our service and will keep improving our product. By doing this we’ll prevent millions of tutees from falling behind. We intend to provide this service in a similar form after Covid-19, potentially focusing on tutees from disadvantaged backgrounds.