Passion for All
Event: Global Social Business Competition 2013
Team: Ana Sabau, Mihaela Roman, Gabriela Borea,
When talking about a country’s value, the education is one of the first issues which pop up in one’s mind. The quality of education the children get is as important as the number of children that have access to knowledge and proper help when doing their homework.
Too many children worldwide do not have the privilege to attend courses because they have to stay home and help their families in order to have food on the table. The rate of children dropping out of school because they do not understand enough during classes and are maybe too shy to ask questions is 1.5% and those who graduate school is only 89.1% in 2010/2011 in Romania. Also, most parents do not have time to help the children with their homework, because they work late or have two jobs, or do not have the money to send their children to afterschool programs.
What these children need is an additional education system, meaning to help them ask questions and get them answered by tutors or other qualified personnel. This new system is meant to aid them finish school or get a new certificate in order to find a good job later. Also, a new certificate is very important to adults, who do not have a lot of spare time to cultivate their passion or to learn a new skill. This can become very useful in the unfortunate case of getting fired.
Teaching children and adults alike and helping them get a proper education can help a country evolve and have a brighter future.
PassionForAll is an online platform which allows people of all ages to follow their passions and improve / learn new skills, while helping children from disadvantaged backgrounds in Romania to gain access to a better education, through free online tutoring sessions. PassionForAll is a place where everyone can learn something!
While formal education in schools is important to create a solid knowledge base, it is often not enough for children to attend classes in order to perform well and to pass the end-of-cycle examinations and receive a certificate. For children from rural areas of Romania or from disadvantaged families, it is even more difficult to keep up with the curriculum requirements, due to other priorities or lack of resources for educational aids. This is why we aim to provide these children access to extra-school tutoring sessions through our platform, as a complement to their formal education. The sessions will focus on subjects and skills necessary for the children to pass their examinations and will be conducted online, through Skype or other voice messenger services, by professionals (eg: school teachers, students training to become teachers) who will receive a symbolic remuneration. Sessions will take place on a weekly basis, in classrooms / IT rooms provided by schools or in PC centers and will be either group or individual sessions.
At the same time, we acknowledge the importance of continuous learning at every age, which is why we wish to offer people of all ages and backgrounds the opportunity to practice their hobbies and learn new skills in a fun, interactive and convenient way.
By subscribing to PassionForAll, users get access to tutors from all over the world, teaching online all sorts of skills, from knitting to dancing salsa to speaking Danish, etc, by interacting one-on-one through our platform with a user sharing the same passion. This will save time for the user (as he/she will be able to attend the session whenever he/she is available), will also provide the opportunity to interact with the tutor, ask questions, share a hobby and build a (possibly long-lasting) relationship. Since the online world is filled with passionate individuals who share their talents with the entire world (most of the time for free), the tutors will be recruited to our platform from blogs, websites and all sorts of social media and will be paid for each skills class held.
Our platform will socially impact several categories, such as: the children who attend the classes, the parents who will not have to make more substantial efforts to help their children get a good education, the volunteers who are offering their support, the fellow children of those who get involved in the program, hopefully by motivating and inspiring them as well.
On the long run, our project will also have a social impact at the level of the overall society, since kids who promote their final exams will be more educated and able to integrate faster in the community, to get jobs and thus to reduce the economic burden paid by the state to unemployed people. Also, more educated people reduce the degree of local violence, this being another very important benefit at community level. Last but not least, we believe that the children who benefit from the online tutoring classes and who will pass the exams will also influence people in through their work, thus increasing on the long term the social impact of our project
We will also have an impact on the professionals/ volunteers that teach, as they will also receive some monetary compensation, thus, to a certain extent, we will also create employment opportunities and will help these people maintain and improve their skills.We aim to hire 25% of our volunteers from disadvantaged categories – but even so, it is of outmost importance to make sure that those volunteers are also qualified to teach the children/the adults.
Furthermore, our platform will also create awareness with regards to this educational problem and hopefully more schools will introduce some variation of free tuition for children as more and more children will attend the classes and show that they are working hard.
Our social impact will be quantified through various measures such as: the number of children who attend the live courses and who pass their exams after having used the platform, the number of sessions attended by children, the number of hired volunteers and the salary paid, as well as the number of recommendations received. As a way to better monitor the progress of the children, we will test them periodically and will also take into account the evolution for their grades/ GPA. Our success will also be measured by the number of certificates that the children will receive (for example, through the number of language certificates they will get, etc).
The online platform will offer quality, real time interaction which will offer users the possibility to develop certain skills/interests/hobbies while skyping with people located in another area/city/country.
The platform will have 2 parts: one “for-profit”, which will ensure the financial viability of the project and another one “non-profit” which will be funded from the revenue obtained from the “for-profit” category.
The For-Profit part:
Targets adults interested in developing certain skills/pursuing their interests online.
The price paid for each of the sessions will cover the cost of the tutor teaching that specific class and also a part of the cost for the kids’ tutor.
There will be two main types of user accounts: corporate users and individual users.
The corporate account will be designed for corporations which want to offer their employees the possibility to practice certain skills/ passions as ways to reward/motivate them.
Individuals will also pay subscriptions (for 1 month/ 3 months/1 year) which will cover the cost of the tutor as well as a part of the cost of the kids’ volunteers.
The Non-profit part
This part targets those children who come from disadvantaged families.
Kids will benefit from online tutoring for free and their classes will be financed with the money paid by individuals and companies attending the “for-profit” sessions.
We will look for tutors who want to teach children on a voluntary basis, but we believe that the best way to ensure the continuity of the program is by offering some type of financial reward, even if it might be a symbolic one.
We will also fund the non-profit part from donations and sponsorships, but since these financial streams are quite unreliable they will not be our maiAn focus. Companies will have the option to become sponsors either by donating money or by offering products/services which will be used as a way to pay tutors for their efforts.
Through the sponsorship agreements companies will be promoted on our website, thus gaining exposure to those individuals who are looking for online classes. The opposite works as well. For example, by advertising language centers that offer tutoring to kids, the platform also exposes the language centers to companies that might later on sign some contracts with the language center.
Through our platform, we target two main types of paying customers:
Individuals – Anyone interested in improving a skill or learning a new one can become a user of PassionForAll.
How many times have we thought to ourselves: “I wish I had more time to finally learn to play that guitar I received for my birthday!” or “It would be so cool to learn how to make sushi!”. But we always have more important things to do and never find the time to physically attend a class or the necessary patience and motivation to look at long and boring “how to” videos.
Through our platform we particularly target busy professionals and students, who are passionate about something, but do not have the necessary time to physically attend skill courses.
- Convenience – Users save the time they would have spent on the road getting to courses and can take the sessions wherever they have access to Internet. Plus, they have fast and easy access to a database of tutors based on their skills.
- Interaction – What sets PassionForAll apart from online instructive videos is the live interaction with the tutor, the possibility to ask questions and bond.
- Flexibility – The user can schedule a session whenever he/she has time.
- Socializing – The user and the tutor create a relationship, strengthened by their shared passion.
Corporate clients – Companies can create a corporate account for a fixed number of employees, allowing each employee to choose a desired course.
Accounts will be created in advance and there will be a free trial session when the users will have the chance to experiment the class and see if it fits their expectations. Corporate clients can have additional benefits, such as advertising on our platform. In this category, we can also include companies which wish to help us with the tutoring sessions for disadvantaged children, such as learning centers. These could offer free access through a live stream to one of their courses, also allowing children to shortly interact with the teacher at the end of the course for questions. In return, these learning centers will be featured on our platform, where they gain exposure to paying customers and get recognized as CSR-oriented companies.
We differentiate ourselves through the unique offer- the possibility for users, children and adults, to customize their learning experience in terms of content, structure and most importantly- location and time. The application will offer children also the opportunity to have one on one sessions where they can get quality help with their academics.
Adults will have the possibility to develop their passion/interest in the convenience of their own environment, without having to spend time on commuting, moving from one place to another or wasting time in traffic. Furthermore, they will be able to choose the topic of their class from a list, but in the same time they will be able to indicate a certain personal interest and we will actively seek a teacher.
Moreover, an important added value is conferred by the real time, one on one interaction between the users and tutors, which makes the learning experience even more complete and valuable. Therefore, our platform combines the convenience of online learning with the personal experience given by direct, real time communication with someone who is knowledgeable in the area of interest
When looking at the competitive environment in which our business operates, we could not find any similar personalized platforms which offer a database and directly connect individual tutors for various disciplines to people willing to learn. Thus, we could argue that PasionForAll is a quite unique project on the market, especially when also taking into consideration how our for-profit part is connected to the social part of our platform.
However, there are several online platforms offering free courses and tutorials in various formats. Some of the most popular such websites are:
Khan Academy - not-for-profit with the goal to provide free world-class education to everyone. The course materials offered consist of videos, papers and interactive exercises. It also features progress tracking and virtual rewards to motivate students.
OpenCourseWare Consortium - the biggest source of online freely available college level educational materials. It offers downloadable courses from universities in over 45 countries in formats such as syllabi, course notes, handouts, video lectures, presentations, as well as evaluation tools.
Coursera - for profit organization founded by Stanford professors which comprises free video courses from top universities worldwide, including assignments and active evaluation methods and may offer certificates upon completion.
The Open Learning Initiative - provides high quality open courses with continuous feedback. They include all sorts of media (readings, video lectures, exercises, assessments) designed to collect real time data on the student and their progress for better course design.
While the materials offered on these platforms are very valuable and of superior academic quality, the areas of learning are rather restrictive, mostly focusing on academic subjects (Maths, Economics, Biology, IT etc.) and less or not at all on practical subjects, such as the ones offered on PassionForAll. In addition, none of these platforms offer direct, real time interaction between the teachers and students, being conceived as mass learning tools.
Our competition also includes any kind of online medium which offers tutorials (video or readings) on any subject, such as Youtube, forums, personal blogs etc.
Strengths: convenience, cheap learning, real time and personal interaction, variety of classes and customization of content/structure/schedule (easy to adapt to individual necessities), safe learning environment( even from a physical safety perspective as the student does not have to worry about spending some time in the same room with a stranger)
Weaknesses: logistics; new entrant: unknown to the public, need to gain the trust of users and of tutors, lack of experience
Opportunities: growing potential of online platforms; could expand it even at corporate level; could have bigger classes and could also connect professionals from different parts of the world
Threats: the model might seem easy to copy; the volunteers might ask for more money; the spread and popularity of free online tutorials on various channels, such as Youtube.