With COVID-19 forcing everyone into remote work, it has been difficult to maintain social connections and keep in touch with our communities. While we acknowledge many groups have been hit hard by this pandemic, it is especially distressing for high school students, who are spending his prime years locked away from friends, teachers, and family. Like many others, I (Peter Yang) have become familiar with this plight of self-isolation and loneliness—waking up to do homework, attend lessons, and go back to sleep, all with minimal communication with others.
One surprising source of solace I did find, though, was Reddit. For those unaware, Reddit is a semi-anonymous social platform where individuals can share posts and comment on them. I often found myself engrossed in the conversations spawned by various forums known as subreddits (my favourite happens to be r/AskReddit).
So, given Reddit's ability to bridge the looming social gap caused by COVID-19, we wondered if a similar approach could be applied to students. Can students post their homework assignments to a common forum? Can they comment on each other's posts? Will this help them feel more comfortable about not only school but also themselves? We think so.
What it does
Verifme is a platform where Canadian high school students can share posts about homework problems they are struggling with. Then, other curious students can upvote/downvote these posts to indicate if the solution shared is correct or not as well as write comments to engage in more nuanced discussion. Our aim is to help struggling students by connecting them with others in the same shoes. We're all in this together.
How we built it
Challenges we ran into
The most difficult challenge was setting up our development environments. We all have different computer configurations, and so it was difficult to make sure everyone was one the same page at all times. Figuring out which software tools to install and which versions to use definitely roughened the development workflow—however, we all made it in the end!
Another looming challenge was trying to work on a large software project simultaneously. We were all making Git commits/pushes/pulls, and so it could be confusing as to whether everyone was on the same version of the codebase!
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We are extremely proud of our UX and UI work, using Figma to prototype the entire app before bringing it to market. Prototyping is an often overlooked step of the software development process; consequently, our team made sure we were 100% clear on the design expectations before writing a single line of code. This made the subsequent coding workflow much smoother.
We are also (of course) proud of hacking together such a big project with such limited time! (That's the nature of a hackathon, right?) While the code could certainly be refactored, the app is entirely functional and accessible online. It does what we intended it to do, and that is the best thing a developer can wish for!
What we learned
We learned that managing a large project is hard and teamwork should not go understated. There were times where we all felt frustrated and on the verge of quitting; there were times where we wanted to accuse each other of not trying hard enough; there were times where we had fundamental disagreements about product roadmap. Luckily, we all braved through the conflicts and ended up with a successful product!
What's next for Verifme
Where do I start (nervous laughter)? Several things come to mind immediately:
• We did not have time to make the subject hyperlinks work. Ideally, students would be able to filter posts by subject. • We would have liked to complete the About pages, including Mission Statement, Team, Privacy, and Terms. • It would be nice if students could upload images of their work as opposed to describing everything in plain text. • We researched domains and found a good one called verifme.ca. We see ourselves taking this domain once we conclude beta testing.
These are certainly implementable features; however, due to how we prioritized our pipeline, they did not make it into the initial cut.