Youth Co:Lab story: HINT – Resolving Students’ Insolvability
Studying in class alone may not always give 100% understanding and not everyone is comfortable with raising hands in the middle of the class. Therefore, many need supporters outside the classroom, be it asking questions from friends, tutoring or asking from their parents. However, these options are not available for everyone. Additionally, Covid-19 pandemic has worsened the situation. The limited supports have been decreased. This problem becomes the main question HINT continues developing.
“When I was a student, there was hardly any free option to figure out the question I’m working on. Google may be the closest solution but there may be no direct answer so it takes time. When it comes to asking friends, it really depends on whether you have a good relationship with smart friends or not, especially those who are not in high-ranking schools, chances to have friends that can support us with education is rare,” explained Napat “Palm” Panprasitkit one of the founders.
HINT is a group of three including Palm, Tanet “Boss” Sriamorn, and Bunyawat “Book” SrisompongThe three met during internship.
HINT’s core concept is nothing complicated; once students pose a question, helpers will come to help with the answer.
Making Idea Practical
As HINT was chosen to join 2020 Youth Co:Lab workshop. The team has got to revise their problem statement, solution, business model and social impacts. Book explained that what has changed the most after attending the workshop is the business model.
The revised version of HINT business plan is designed to be free of charge, but with ads. Ads fee is one of the revenues. Another model is subscription where students who want to get rid of ads can subscribe with the additional features such as being able to select helpers and to get faster answers.
For helpers, their incentive is money.
“If students are satisfied with helpers’ answers, the student can give a coin to show their appreciation. At the end of this month, the revenue will be divided proportionally among the helpers in accordance with the received coins ,” Palm explained. He also added that once the application is launched, other students can also explore other’s questions. If they find it helpful, they could click like. The helpers who earned many likes will also earn extra incomes.
Apart from the business model which has been developed a lot from day one, what the team found workshop eye-opening is that, for Boss, he said the selected teams have come from various backgrounds so he got to exchange insights and opinions and empathize with one another. For Book, what he enjoyed the most about the workshop is that he found the program was well-designed. Each activity had clear objectives and the whole workshop was linked seamlessly.
To make all features function well, HINT’s final product will be available as an application. However, due to budget and timeline restriction, being selected as one of the five final teams, HINT is implementing the prototyping phase using the LINE OA platform. Tutors and volunteers are LINE OA admin who can browse students’ chat and select which questions each wants to answer. Up to present, HINT is available in three subjects including math, science and English.
“The first day we have got 60 users. In one month we’ve got 1,000 user and there are 2,000 users within 20 days. So far, it’s been over two month we’ve got almost 3,000 users. It is accelerating.” Palm who is responsible for promoting and marketing explained that he approaches users in various channels including Facebook, Instagram, Line groups and Line OpenChat. He added that he is still looking for more volunteer helpers to fulfill the community.
Back in the very beginning stage of prototype, there were not many students while many helpers wanted to answer. Thus, the team has to set up some rules. Boss who is responsible for data explained that everytime helpers want to take care of the students, the helper is required to say “Hello, I’m here” and once finishing with each answer, the helper needs to send an evaluation form to the students.
“This is not only to reduce confusion between the helpers but also to make it easier to collect data. At the end of the day, the system will collect how many questions are asked, how many answers have been solved or unsolved,” Boss said that these data will be passed to Book so that the helpers can come and check their own statistics. Regarding the evaluation, 88% of the students replied that they are satisfied with the answers. Such feedback is crucial for HINT improvement.
HINT is acting as resolving academic questions, thus, correctness is not to be missed.
In order to check whether the provided answer is correct, all HINT helpers are ตรวจสอบกันเอง The rule is set that helpers can report if wrong answers are detected. Due to a lot of work, the three founders invited Chanisara “Mew” Chomcheun to help monitor and archive reports from helpers.
“Sometimes when someone reports a case, I cannot fully monitor what is the problem. Therefore, we’ve added some rules that when reporting, the correct answer is required to be provided,” Mew explained. “Also sometimes we’ve been reported about the same issue more than once, so I need to collect data systematically to avoid repeated warning.”
Apart from helping students to complete their homework, HINT also helps students to have better understanding towards the lessons.
“There was a helper who asked the student to show their understanding on the questions and lessons before jumping to the final answer. It is like he wanted the student to revise and reflect oneself first. Also another helper answered the question by filming a video just to explain the students,” Book explained that these are beyond his expectation. “From the student side, there was a student who asked if the LINE OA will always be active and available so that he won’t have to worry about his homework.” Book said that this means a lot to him.
HINT is constantly improving the product and collecting feedback from all stakeholders. A school teacher reflected that HINT may be a double-edged sword as students may not do their own homework. The team seriously takes this feedback for improvement.
“As we hope that HINT will help students with their learning process, we come up with the new feature that will be added to the application. Instead of just giving the final answer, the helpers are asked to send students a question as conversation goes by before giving the final answer,” Boss explained that this idea extracted from the ongoing prototype. “Helpers like to ask whether the student understands what they’ve explained. 70% always said that they do but we have no idea whether they really do. This feature will help proving and checking. Additionally, this will help the helpers to know which specific parts they should explain more.”
“This is a multiple choice feature. Though the student gives a wrong answer, the tutor can still help them. But if they answer correctly many times, they will be rewarded,” added Palm.
Expanding Target Groups
HINT always wants to reach as many students as possible. The team also gives an importance to inclusiveness.
For smart students who may not seek help, they may be able to use the HINT platform as a helper. In the prototyping phase, HINT uses Line OpenChat specifically for this purpose so that students can support one another. There are 600 users within one month.
Another group who may not be able to reach HINT is those who have no device nor internet access.
“For this group we need some time to collect data and figure out what are the main subjects or topics most students struggle with. Once we can identify the issue, we will seek ways to work with schools or education institutions in order to solve its cause such as curriculum,” explained Palm.
From Hint to Education System
Though HINT’s focus is only a part of the education system, the entire working process gives the team a clearer picture on Thai education system.
“We’ve realized that Thai students are very serious with the academic world. M.1-3 students are practicing M4-6 lessons already,” said Palm.
“It is worrisome that they may be focused too much on studying and don’t have time to live their life or care about their surroundings,” added Book.
HINT also found that 70% of students want to be a doctor which is no different from dozens of years ago while there are many new occupations at present. Such findings ignite HINT to position themselves to resolving students’ questions in various aspects, not only in textbooks.
“We see HINT as a channel. In the future, we may invite experts from various fields to use HINT for sharing their work experience. Additionally, we may also do Hint for Mind and Hint for Health to support students holistically,” concluded Palm.