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Reverse Summer School [updated with additional content 07/29]

During summer holidays, young people use empty classrooms to give classes (about digital, tech and other topics) to older adults.

Photo of Mathieu Chevalier
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During summer holidays, young people use empty classrooms to give classes (about digital, tech and other topics) to older adults.
The Reverse Summer School Concept (updated)

During summer holidays, young people are looking for a job to earn a little cash... while older people are looking for company and occupation... while classrooms are unoccupied... so what if young people use them to give classes to older adults ?

Reverse Summer School uses the extra classroom capacity that comes in summer breaks to give younger people the opportunity to earn money while building their curriculum with a useful job : teach older adults about what they perfectly know -> social networks, internet, tablets, internet of things, 3D printing...

Reverse Summer School gives older adults the opportunity to know more about what they were not born with, while giving younger people a interesting job.

Reverse Summer School is a win/win program, for both younger and older people.

The 3 pilars of the Reverse Summer School (updated)

1/ Young teachers
After identifying their skill, they can register for teaching a class, find the nearest school, get teaching tips and feedback from the community, give the class.

2/ Older students
They can choose a topic and register for a class, find the nearest school, get feedback from community, participate to the class.

3/ Schools
School participate to the program by giving the possibility to use the classrooms extra-capacity during summer breaks.

What types of topics does the program offer ? (updated)

R.S.S. classes are mainly about topics that older people are not born with, but which younger people are perfectly confortable with.

For example :
  • How to use a digital camera
  • How to listen to music on the Internet
  • What is Facebook and and how to use it
  • How to shop on the web
  • How to book a flight online
  • How to use a smartphone
  • etc.
Different topics could be suggested, but an important point of RSS is that the classes database is an open one : every younger people can propose a skill / topics / theme. RSS is a kind of market place : if the offer meet the demand, the class will be !

How long would a class last ? (updated)

Every younger would have the possibility to customize his class.
If it’s a first teaching experience, the younger could choose a short format for his class.For example : 30 minutes about digital photography.
If he feels more confortable about it, or had a first teaching experience, the younger could try a longer class, or a kind of workshop, 2 hours or more.

What is important here is to give the possibility to adapt the class to the teacher specificity, and to give him / her  the good tips to help choosing the good range of class.

We could imagine online tips, or workshops just for teachers, to “teach how to teach”. Getting user feedback would also be a good way to build experience.

How can younger people become a teacher ? (updated 07/26)

The RSS web app is the tool that will help younger people becoming teachers.
First of all, the RSS web app helps young people find their skill. One can choose in the “skill database”, or add a skill if needed.
Then the RSS web app enables young people to register for a class (once the skill is choosen). Here one can choose the range of classe : individual or collective / short session or workshop, etc. (see more details in the “How a class work” paragraph).
Then, one can choose the closest school (schools map), the day, the hour.
Once the registration is confirmed, the RSS web app will be the place where young teachers can get tips about teaching, chat with other teachers on a forum, have the possibilty to register for learning sessions workshops (to learn how to teach in real).
After the class, the RSS web app will enable payment (see specific paragraph about remuneration), and teachers will also have the possibility to share feedbacks with the community.

How can older people participate to a class ? (updated 07/26)

Older adults will also connect on the RSS web app to register for classes.
Here they will find classes topics, school maps, teachers profiles, community feedback.
One will have the possibility to choose a topic, a range of class, a school, a date, an hour.
When enough people have registered for a class (if 5 people are needed for example), the participants will receive a confirmation email.
After the class, the RSS web app will also enable giving feedback on the class / teachers.

How does a class work ? (updated 07/26)

These will depend on what the teacher want to choose. He will have the possibilty to teach for 30 minutes or more if he feels confortable with it. One to one class, or collective group.

Classes could be run by one youth teacher, but also by a youth team rather. As an example, the 'teacher' explains all the things at the beginning of the class regarding 'shopping on the web', and after she's finished a team of youth will go around providing 1 on 1 support. This could be a more friendly and comfortable environment (like family style) that won't make the elder feel patronised to be taught by a single youngster significantly younger than them. And this might be an opportunity for young teachers in training to get experience. The pressure and intimidation for a single young person to teach a group of elderly could be a barrier for many youth applicants. Young people would prefer to participate in the RSS program because they can teach as a group (teach the class together with their friends).

For the first classes prototype, I suggest to test 3 ranges of classes :

Option A :  30 minutes, 1 student + 1 teacher, mixing theory and exercices.

Option B : 60 minutes, group of 6 students, 1 teacher, 20 minutes of theory, 40 minutes of group exercices.

Option C : 90 minutes, group of 15-20 students, 3 teachers team, 3 parts of 30 minutes (lead by different teachers), mixing theory and exercices.

NB : Classes could be in one or several sessions.

How does the remuneration system work (updated 07/29) ?

2 possible remuneration systems :

- Money. Students pay per hour. Teacher get paid. Web app helps transaction.

- Points / credit (recommanded). Teaching a class gives you credits / points (but also good appreciations, time given to help the community, etc.). Credits can be used for several things. In particular : why not imagine that teachers could use their credit to become students, while older people would teach them cooking, art, or anything else about their passion.

Ressources needed (updated 07/26)

Ressources should be defined.
As a first draft about it, RSS will need :
- teachers and students ! 
- people to run the digital platform
- schools partnership
- teaching kit (depending on the topics) 
- community managers

What's behind the Reverse Summer School ? - Community inputs

"R.S.S. is a great use of the extra classroom capacity that comes in summer breaks" (Annie).

"R.S.S. would be good real-world practice for the younger people too. As they post their classes and describe what they can offer, they're getting real practice with marketing themselves and their skills, which is a skill they will use for decades" (Annie).

"R.S.S.takes place in a crucial time for older adults : summer break is often a time when neighbors are gone for holidays, when older people can feel alone."

"R.S.S. curriculum could go beyond technology" (Toddi + Paul).

"I suggest to share this idea with professionnal training departments in large companies too. Like any school, they have facilities (classrooms and equipment) and low activity in the summer" (Hind)

"...very much inline with what Paul proposed with the mentorship networks. This is pretty much an implementation of that network that I think has a great potential given the experience I had the las two years doing something similar" (Cristhian)

"... schools are great places for this challenge. They are often very well geographically distributed in residential areas where both younger and older people live. I also agree that summer is a crucial time for older adults" (Glenn)

"This is definitely a win-win for both the seniors and the teachers" (Toddi)

"Great insight regarding schools being well placed in neighborhoods. The mentors and mentees quite possibly will be able to walk to the school. Another opportunity to connect if they walk together" (Bettina)

"I wonder if this also might be a venue to incorporate an intergenerational book/film - class/group in the summers, with the possibility that it can continue on it's own, or become several groups, during the year" (Bettina)

"My suggestion to your idea is that while I like the emphasis on the RSS and technology, I wouldn't limit it to that. There could be art classes, language classes, or cooking classes. Whatever is available in a given community could be embedded into this great idea! " (Lina)

"My thoughts for the 'how does a class work' section is that they should be run by a youth team rather than just one youth teacher..." (Rob)

"The benefit for the youth in RSS is money and experience - so I think another area we can link this to is clubs/societies. What if a school club was looking for more funding for their activities? They could have the opportunity for the club members to teach a class together to raise funds" (Rob)


If you want to help building the Reverse Summer School program you can also join our Google Plus Community. Please be welcome !


See :
* How it works
* Logo
* Experience Map
... in the pics


Who are the target users of your idea and how does your idea speak directly to their needs, life stages and goals?

Reverse Summer School speaks to 3 kind of target users : 1/ Young people, from 12 to 18 yo., looking for a summer job to earn a little cash and build their curriculum. They are also open to help older adults. 2/ Older people, 60 yo and more, looking for occupation and company during summer breaks. They are not specially comfortable with technology topics. 3/ Schools Manager : RSS is a way to keep their school active during summer breaks

How might your idea scale and spread to reach as many people as possible?

Reverse Summer School can be implemented either on a small or large scale. Locally, or globally. Schools are the perfect place to communicate about the RSS program in order to recruit new teachers. Associations / Club are places where older people will discover the program. Neighbourhood word of mouth will also help scaling.

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to test any assumptions you might have about your idea?

* ask the kids of my neighborhood wether the idea of giving such classes could interest them + what kind of skill they could use to teach * ask older adults the kind of subjects they could be interested in * talk schools managers about the RSS program to have their feedback * go further in prototyping the web app (home page)

What aspects of your idea could benefit from the input, skills or know-how of our OpenIDEO community?

Every aspects would benefit from the openideaters inputs ! If you have any skill / ideas that could help strengthening the project, please be welcome. I'm looking forward to collaborate with you guys.


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Photo of Rong Jun Li

Congratulations Mathieu. your idea is really good. I hope many old people may be benefited from your project, and i am looking forward to see you to continue with the project.

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