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Community Heroes - Skill exchange, tutoring and learning in a community setting

What if students could match with each other for learning support, and engage with their communities in meaningful exchange of help?

Photo of Maike Gericke

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I am a.....

  • Innovator

Tell us about your idea

The current crisis brings many challenges to our education systems. One very important challenge is that it might increase the access gap for students from disadvantaged backgrounds or with a need for extra support. It also makes the start of careers much more challenging for those graduating during the time of an economic crisis.

But the crisis also brings some hope: We are seeing a rise in collaboration and support, much of it organized through digital means.

So what if we apply this idea of collaboration and exchange to students, and to the larger communities around them?

The idea is simple: students can ask their peers for help with subjects they are struggling with. Senior students can decide to help younger ones, or to help their classmates on topics they are good at. This system of exchange can also be used for sharing hobbies or other knowledge.

At the same time, students can also connect to other community members, both for seeking and providing help. All exchanges are based on time commitments. To add more fun, different activities are linked to badges. Those helping the most can be recognized and rewarded for their engagement, for example by the school, a local store, or the city.

Let’s take Herbert and Matt as an example. Herbert is a retired chemical engineer with a medical condition. As he currently can’t leave his home, he needs help in picking up his medicine. At the same time, he can help with chemistry lessons, and he has a lot of time. Matt would love to go to medical school, but he is struggling with chemistry. Matt and Herbert can engage in a meaningful exchange – one providing chemistry lessons, the other delivering medicine. Matt helps more community members like Herbert, and gets a recognition from the city for his engagement. His commitment is seen as favourable in his applications for medical school.

Another example is Liz. She is really good at coding and a digital genius – a skill set she is perfecting in her free time. She uses her skills to not only help her peers, but also other community members. For example, she helps Herbert to set up video conferencing on his computer. In return, she gets help with her schoolwork, and Italian lessons from Valentina, a true Italian. A local store rewards her skills & commitment with a voucher, enabling her to buy new equipment.

These kinds of exchanges can help students not only to get better in school – but also to prepare for a better future.

What part(s) of the pre-COVID school system do you wish to leave in the past? Why?

It would be really meaningful to build more links between students and local communities, creating active engagement, connection and meaningful exchange. Helping each other out can be a powerful way to achieve more together, so a system for students to build these connections and thereby also exchange with others that have different interests is a great way to learn and grow. At the same time, bringing students into a meaningful exchange with other community members and in connection with local causes helps them not only to feel good about achievements and make an impact in communities, but also to build connections and references outside of school that can be really helpful in later life.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to share this idea.

I am part of a team of innovators that worked out this idea over a few Covid-19 related hackathons over the last weeks, placing second in the people-driven economies challenge of the #EUvsVirus hackathon organized by the European Commission, currently exploring first pilot opportuntities with potential partners. We are a very international team that found each other through the crisis and would like to turn this situation into an opportunity to create a more sustainable future. The more we refined our idea, the more importance we saw in use cases around education, which is why I found it meaningful to share our project here.

What region are you located in?

  • Europe

Where are you located?

I am currently in Berlin, Germany, which is slowly reopening its schools, shops and restaurants at the moment.

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Photo of Danuza Neiva
Team

Hi Maike, I like so much your idea. I thought of something similar to that, bringing together who can teach and who needs school help. I believe that this solution can be very useful to reach underprivileged communities, a vulnerable public that has learning difficulties. It's time to bring people together and learn together. Did you think of any ideas for gamification?

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Photo of Maike Gericke
Team

Hi Danuza, thank you! Yes this is exactly what we were thinking about as well - we for example also thought through quite a few use cases where people and communities could even be connected internationally/ across communities, for example international students providing learning support to kids in their home area etc. I would love to hear more about your ideas and thoughts on this! And yes we included some first ideas on gamification and are refining and expanding that - for now the key aspect is a badge system linked to hours spent on different activities that also puts those activities in context with Sustainable Development Goals. You can see a little bit of it in the video. We had some more fun ideas but didn't get the chance yet to properly think them through :)

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Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

Hi Maike and Danuza.
I find the idea inspiring Maike! I really like the skill exchange suggestion, and bringing different age groups together. In addition to sharing the initial skill might there be other learnings that are shared over time when different generations meet up?

Christian Benjumea Ulfsparre 's Idea, "Stand By Me" has some overlap to your idea. Did you see it?
https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/covid-reimagine-learning-challenge/ideas/stand-by-me

Spam
Photo of Danuza Neiva
Team

Thank you for more details about your idea. My idea is to have a platform to bring together different stakeholders that can collaborate with the main difficulties of remote education in vulnerable communities. The focus is on offering technological resources and remote tutoring.
The mentor would register which areas he could help in teaching and the student would register which areas need reinforcement. The tool would cross supply and need. In the mentoring program there will also be offers for the development of socio-behavioral skills and life projects. Agreements for tutoring and technological support must be made, a compromise between those responsible, the student and the sponsors. The student's frequency in tutoring is a condition for continuity of internet service and computer use. If there is no frequency in tutoring, the equipment will be relocated to another student who needs it. The idea is to unite local schools to manage resources and monitor student performance, companies that want to invest in the development of people for job creation, tutors who can use teaching work as a certificate for curricular experience.

Your idea about sustainable exchange is similar to Beliive e Time Republik: https://beliive.com https://timerepublik.com. I love it. I think that for the exchange to be effective and sustainable in the community, it needs to expand the services that can be offered, which may include the exchange of different talents, from professional skills, sports, and so. We are partnering with Beelive to use it in the community for this purpose.

My ideia can be found here: https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/covid-reimagine-learning-challenge/ideas/dream-partner

Spam
Photo of Maike Gericke
Team

Bettina Fliegel absolutely - I think there are so many opportunities in learning and exchange of those groups, and I think the most important aspect of those learnings probably lie in the personal connection & in getting to know each other! I have been researching on community currencies for a while, and the aspects of social exchange and building together are really very interesting.
I was just looking through the other ideas and stumbled upon this one as well - definitely many connections & common themes!

Spam
Photo of Maike Gericke
Team

This is a great concept Danuza Neiva - I feel like we are working on many similar ideas! We also agreed that the concept of educational exchange should be grounded in a broader city exchange, which was also our initial starting point, and thought about how community activities can be "certified" in some form to help with employability.
We also came across quite a lot of existing time banking and exchange solutions - I have been studying community currencies for a while, and we are working with the team of a blockchain platform that has been building the hour peer-to-peer exchange for a while.
We actually looked at Beliive before as someone mentioned it to us, but did not get the chance to reach out yet! It would be really great to stay in touch, exchange ideas and also learnings from different local contexts & use cases!

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Photo of Danuza Neiva
Team

Great! Let's keep contacts and exchange ideas. It would be very rich to see the application in different cultures and contexts, this favors scalability.

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Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

Yes, I agree that the personal connections will be so important!

There was a previous OpenIDEO Challenge that focused on up mentoring, youth mentoring elders. Maybe you will find some learnings there? In that challenge there was a Research Phase and an Idea Phase.
https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/youth-mentor/brief

Spam
Photo of Maike Gericke
Team

Oh amazing, thanks so much for sharing Bettina Fliegel ! I already saw some really interesting stories in the research. Will dig deeper into this over the next days!

Spam
Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

Great! Glad you find it interesting.
Danuza Neiva  You might find it interesting too!