The future of online learning is in the hands of today's students.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns, many students have been struggling to adjust to virtual learning. But this group of highly intelligent high schoolers is working to make the whole process easier and less stressful.
When COVID-19 hit here in the U.S., many people were scrambling trying to figure out how to keep working and learning while in lockdown. While the transition to working from home was easy for many, one area that had to deal with the most severe adjustments was education. Having meetings via Zoom is all well and good for the office, but most of those meetings are usually shorter than the average school day and involve fewer people than the average classroom.
In the rush to move to 100% online learning, some students (and teachers) have become overwhelmed with having to go to school through a computer. And even though those kids currently in high school grew up using computers, they can still struggle with the usability of certain programs.
Enter Adit Pareek, a student at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia (TJ). Having previously used popular platforms like Google Classroom, Blackboard, and Canvas, he and other students noticed that each one had specific issues that were preventing them from getting the best online learning experience. Additionally, many teachers are forced to use multiple platforms for various functions, like Google Calendar for scheduling meetings, regular email for important reminders, and Canvas for uploading assignments. All of these different platforms being necessary, it is easy for a student to become overwhelmed trying to keep track of so many things in different places.
So Pareek and his team members from across the world (Claire Shi, COO, Beijing; Rohit Gunda, CFO, Connecticut; Elaine Shi, CMO, Texas); Anish Devineni, CTO, Texas; and Veer Dosi, India) decided to solve these problems by creating their own online learning platform called edPAL. The platform works to solve the primary issues noticed by students, which include: the aforementioned too many different platforms; the fact that it’s easy to get distracted and not focus on their work; the fact that they’re just getting too much homework; they don’t feel they’re being informed enough about assignment due dates; and the distractions cause them to procrastinate.
Our inspiring entrepreneurs wanted to create a more centralized platform so that students have all of their work in one place. edPAL does this by syncing all of the information a student needs and gathering it in what’s called an e-binder, so the students’ work is easier to organize and keep track of. Additionally, edPAL uses something called time-boxing, which is a project management technique that breaks up tasks into time increments in order to finish things more efficiently and on time, with fewer distractions. Another unique feature incorporated into edPAL is a leaderboard, which acts as an incentive for students to complete work and have some healthy competition with friends.
Pareek, who serves as the CEO of edPAL, hopes he and his team can eventually offer this innovative new Learning Management System to schools all over the country (and hopefully internationally as well). Through their current marketing efforts, they have already reached schools in Virginia, as well as in Texas, and even China. The beta version of the program will hopefully launch before the end of this year, and the students expect the full version to launch as soon as next year. While it is currently only available to high schoolers, the young developers hope to make it accessible to all age groups eventually.
As the evolution of online schooling continues, these students hope to incorporate more features into edPAL to accommodate the changing landscape. In this current new normal, we all must find ways to adapt. Thankfully we live in a time when technology is becoming more and more accessible, and hopefully education isn’t far behind in accepting these developments.
For more information on the edPAL program, visit their website here.