ArchiveIt! An education revolution?


 

When I was a high school, I had what I thought was a “brilliant” website idea. I would call it “ArchiveIt!” and it would allow any student to collaborate, share, and “promote” education. From the perspective of a high school student, I always found a great pain in slaving through irrelevant homework assignments. What high school student doesn’t hate the hours and hours of useless homework? I, alongside every other ambitious student, had two goals in mind. Goal one was getting the highest possible grade; goal two was spending the least amount of time making goal one occur. Thus, the bane of our existence was the “meaningless” fill in the choice worksheets, the color-in-sheets, the crossword-puzzles, and the multitude of every other quick to simulate-an-error-and-deduct-valuable-grade-points homework assignments. Plus, what is the point of doing a practice test unless you can compare your work to the right answer? I thought had would be the solution.

Introduce ArchiveIt! This revolutionary web product would not cure cancer, but it would cure thousands if not millions of high school student’s pain and suffering of useless homework assignments. It would also help the true nerds achieve better grades and fulfill their parent’s life-long dream of getting accepted to a better college. How would it work? Students would be able to login and share graded homework assignments and graded tests. Based on some type of participation algorithm, uploaders would be able to access other documents. In a sense, this would become the ultimate homework and test bank. Every high school would need early adopters to start uploading their own files and documents into the system. If enough momentum and popularity gathered, this system would become more loved than SparkNotes.com.

Now that I am a college graduate, I cannot say that I completely agree with my previous reasons for wanting to create this system. However, I do still see tremendous merit in creating a database of very easily accessible test banks to optimize studying. In my time at UCLA, I have always found learning to be most effective in classes with example midterm and final exams. A perfect version of ArchiveIt would allow the collaboration of teacher approved materials; this would eliminate cheating while allowing the ultimate optimization of studying.

Does this idea even have long term potential?

In 2008, the United States had 74,075,000 students, total. 38,620,000 were from the pre-kindergarten through 8th grade; those will be eliminated with the assumption that those children are still stuck in innocence and are, for the most part, more technology hindered compared to their older counterparts. The remaining 35,455,000 students are all possible US users. (Source)

I would estimate that there would be several types of users of ArchiveIt.

  1. “Very grade obsessed and or very lazy” students: These users would use ArchiveIt every day for at least 30-45 minutes. If the school already has some traction with existing content, these students would perpetuate the content and would rapidly eat up any existing archived school work.
  2. “Semi studious students and or typically lazy” students: These users will contribute less content and will care less about their grades, though they will willingly use the website to check their work and to save some time. I estimate these users would use about 15 minutes a day.
  3. “I don’t care about school/I don’t agree with the system so I will not use it” students: These students will not use the website at all.

The beauty of this website is the frequency of use. Unlike a professor checking system website such as BruinWalk.com, where students would access websites only during schedule planning and class sign up times (roughly 5 hours a quarter, to equal 15-20 hours a year), this elite test-bank would retain users for a long period of time for many days (an estimated 15-20 hours a month).

At a conservative assumption that 20% of qualifying students would use the website at maximum coverage, at 2 hours a week for 2/3 of the year, we get a total usage of about 9 million hours a year. I would say that there probably exists a number of people willing to use this website.

There would be several methods of generating revenue from these users. Three business models (Source) including (1) Media Models (2) Transaction Models and (3) User-Paid Services could potentially be used to generate some revenue.

  1. Media Models – AKA Advertising: If the traffic is high enough, ArchiveIt could easily advertise schools, academic aid, test prep materials, and other intellectual material.
  2. Transaction Models – ArchiveIt could directly sell school supplies or school prep material, or simply provide the lead generation to other suppliers of school
  3. Premium, User-Paid Services – Lets be real, some students are very willing to pay some extra money to guarantee the best grades. This could directly tie into a premium tutor specific website, as per my idea here about highschool to highschooler peer tutoring.

As long as people use the website, there would be very clear ways to monetize and take advantage of this situation. So should this idea be made? Obviously I haven’t gotten around to making it, and while this can be blamed on the lack of time or technical skills, I think I have kind of moved away from this idea.

Should I (or someone else) make it?

This idea, if done right, and if it gets over the initial difficult hump of attracting first time uploaders at schools, can probably get a number of users and thus eventually achieve some decent level of revenue. But I’m not sure I believe in this idea as a solid contribution to society. I think the brains in the world needs to focus more on creating a more long term solution to revolutionizing education, instead of simply working on a short term system that helps high schoolers study more effectively. If anyone were to skim the news of today, it is obvious that our entire education system has serious flaws. Ignoring the popular problems of high student debt and the difficulty of certain families to obtain education, there are many obvious problems that include the diffusion of knowledge and limited reach of teachers. Technology can transform education into something that actually helps solve this dilemma. With the wide reach of the Internet, computers, and now tablets, thousands, if not millions, of people who only previously dreamed of this type of education can access knowledge and amazing classes. This type of impact far supersedes the profit of helping a few individuals study more effectively; I hope people and engineers will focus on this goal instead of my high school idea. The only qualifier that might reaffirm my support in this idea is if ArchiveIt could be used as a bridge to help transition individuals and schools to adopt more advanced systems. Otherwise, I hope people will work at places like Kahn Academy.

 

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