Tutorbook is a free, online platform that connects students with expert mentors and volunteer tutors.
We're connecting 9-12 students with expert mentors to collaborate on meaningful (summer) projects that they're both passionate about (e.g. writing a research paper or releasing a music album together).
We're also making sure that no one loses out on education amidst COVID-19 by connecting K-12 students with free, volunteer tutors.
Aspect #1: Volunteer Tutoring
This was created a while ago for a different hackathon, but I figured I might as well include it here as well (to make this project description comprehensive):
- Students no longer have the individualized support teachers usually have given (when they met face-to-face)
- Teachers can no longer attend to each student individually; some students are falling behind
- Support those students by connecting them to university students and professionals also confined in their homes
- Enable teachers to request one-on-one help for students they know are struggling
We're currently partnering with Project Access, the UK's CTI, Austria's StudyRoom, Singapore's Learnpanion, and School Closures to connect students affected by COVID-19 with free, one-on-one, volunteer tutoring.
Aspect #2: Project Oriented Mentorship
This is what I'm really excited about (and this is what we built for this hackathon).
From "IT'S TIME TO BUILD":
We know one-to-one tutoring can reliably increase education outcomes by two standard deviations (the Bloom two-sigma effect); we have the internet; why haven’t we built systems to match every young learner with an older tutor to dramatically improve student success? —Marc Andreessen
I just built such a system. I've created Tutorbook to connect every student with an expert mentor and (as needed) qualified, volunteer tutors.
We're connecting 9-12 students with experts (like you) to collaborate on cool, meaningful (summer) projects (e.g. a web app or research paper) that you're both passionate about.
Lots of student summer plans have been dashed due to COVID-19. This'll be an amazing opportunity for them to work with an expert (e.g. you) on something they're interested in (e.g. a cool startup idea).
I'm calling it "project oriented mentorship." Both the student and their mentor are passionate about some field (e.g. computer science or marketing) but the student doesn't have the experience, connections, knowledge, or resources that the mentor has.
From Paul Graham's "What You'll Wish You Had Known":
If you'd asked me in high school what the difference was between high school kids and adults, I'd have said it was that adults had to earn a living. Wrong. It's that adults take responsibility for themselves. Making a living is only a small part of it. Far more important is to take intellectual responsibility for oneself.
If I had to go through high school again, I'd treat it like a day job. I don't mean that I'd slack in school. Working at something as a day job doesn't mean doing it badly. It means not being defined by it. I mean I wouldn't think of myself as a high school student, just as a musician with a day job as a waiter doesn't think of himself as a waiter.  And when I wasn't working at my day job I'd start trying to do real work. —Paul Graham
I agree with PG completely!
But most students don't have other cool projects to work on/learn about. Most students would be thrilled to work on some of the startup ideas I've seen pop up around here. But they don't know about them.
And they won't know about them unless we do something about it.
Here's how it will work:
- The expert mentor (e.g. an awesome Indie Hacker like you) signs up here and posts about a project they'd love to collaborate on with a student (e.g. an app or startup idea).
- The student searches (e.g. "I'm interested in CS" or "I want to work on marketing") and requests an expert mentor.
- The mentor then chats with the student, their parents, and points the student towards resources to get started (e.g. tutorials, documentation, GitHub repositories, etc).
- The student and the mentor work closely together to reach their goals for their project (e.g. successfully launching that app or startup idea).
This (the project oriented mentorship idea) was based off of my experience with Luke Hsiao (a Stanford PhD candidate) writing this paper together. I had no Python experience whatsoever beforehand but was able to learn quickly and contribute quite a bit (e.g. I'm the 3rd author on that paper). And now I'm best friends with Luke and will go to him whenever I have questions about CS or want someone to bounce ideas off of (e.g. these ideas were first validated by his feedback). I want to recreate that relationship for every student--regardless of their socioeconomic status, connections, etc.
- Typescript - As our language of choice (mostly for static typing, stronger linting capabilities, and the potential for beautifully detailed--and completely automatically generated-- documentation). Typescript is also well supported by Next.js and React.
- Sass - For styling components (i.e. CSS on steroids). Sass, like Typescript, is also well supported by Next.js out-of-box.
- React - As our front-end framework.
- Next.js - To easily support SSR and other performance PWA features.
- Lerna - To manage and re-use React components across repositories; mostly just to migrate code from this project back into Tutorbook when we get the chance.
- ESLint - For code linting to avoid common mistakes and to enforce styling. Follow these instructions to install it in the text editor of your choice (such that you won't have to wait until our pre-commit hooks fail to update your code).