LearnD is a new mobile phone application set to take the Maltese education system, more specifically private tuition, by storm this coming October. However, a tuition service is nothing without dedicated tutors and students alike, and that’s where students come in. Jake Xuereb, one of the co-founders along with Matthew Attard and Luke Collins, spoke to Insite about just what LearnD is and why students stand to benefit.
1) What is this new app we’ve been hearing about?
LearnD is a University Take Off Seed Fund Award winning tech start-up with the aim of improving the current educational culture in Malta. As Mr Xuereb put it, “to create an alternative to the current system which parallels the services offered at school, large classes, and a timeline which leads up to an exam following a syllabus.” The creators’ mythos is that they “strongly believe that there should be an individualistic, student specific alternative to the current system, and that University students are the solution to this problem.”
The idea is that University students offer one-to-one private tuition to younger students. “Imagine being a first-year university student, who is receiving help from a third-year student about some tricky material in a first-year course, while simultaneously helping a sixth former with an A-level topic, making some pocket money in the process. This symbiotic ecosystem is our vision.”
The app will also include search functions for prospective students, as well as a potential to review tutors and students alike. This will not only make finding personalised tuition easier, but more comfortable for both parties involved.
2) Who are the people behind it?
Jake Xuereb, a first-year reading for a B.Sc. in Mathematics and Physics is the project manager with an interest in quantum mechanics and experience tutoring A-level Physics and Chemistry. Luke Collins, a third-year reading for a B.Sc. in Mathematics and Computer Science, is the technical lead, as well as being a research officer at the Mathematics Department focusing on Graph Theory. Matthew Attard, currently on hiatus, is the design lead on the project and a student within the Faculty of Built Environment, apart from being involved in publishing, content creation, and street photography.
Mr Xuereb also mentioned a long list of people who are part of the LearnD team: “Jean-Paul Ebejer, a lecturer from the department of bioinformatics with many years of industry experience before becoming the academic he is today, is our CEO. We also work with two digital arts students, Neil Grech and Jacob Saliba, who recently formed a design & branding house under the name Nisġa.
“Aside from this we also work with Switch Digital & Brand on social media and branding strategy. It is important to mention that from the start, the University of Malta’s business incubator, TAKEOFF, has been of great help to the project; particularly the manager of TAKEOFF, Ing. Joseph Bartolo.”
3) What inspired its creation?
“During my last months in sixth form, I had become concerned with the job opportunities at my disposal. A passionate science student had very limited opportunities outside of the world of catering which surely isn’t the best way an academically driven student can contribute to society. So, I thought about my skill-set and how I could use it best, and the obvious answer was to provide private lessons. However, with big-name teachers occupying the market, I knew I could hardly make a dent — but in doing this mental exercise, I came to see that there was an obvious lacuna in the system for one-to-one tuition that the big-name teachers couldn’t solve.
“With this thought in mind I came to the conclusion that forming a network of tutors across Malta would be the solution. I then spoke to Luke about this idea, who thought that it would be better if it were implemented in a scalable way, as a platform which would allow the network to grow, in the form of a mobile app. Thus, LearnD was born.”
4) Why should students use it?
Upon speaking to Mr Xuereb, one can conclude that the beauty of the concept is in its simplicity. Not only can students find affordable one-to-one tuition, but they can also help younger students and make some extra money in turn. He explains the human side of education adding that, “sometimes what you need isn’t repetition but long conversations to suss out a misconception or to go through a topic in a couple of hours some days before an important test.”
5) What do you need from the students?
October’s Freshers’ Week will be the launching platform for this app and students should instantly be able to use it and benefit from it as soon as it is made available. In order to avoid searches turning up no results, LearnD “are currently recruiting 120 beta testing users to act as tutors, that will benefit from 3 months of free use as tutors so that when students open up the app during Fresher’s week, they can look for tutors and find the help they might need throughout the first semester of their O-level year, sixth form or university.”
In order to be part of this new shift in the education culture in Malta, all you have to do is fill-in a Tutor Application Form and join the revolution.