Clever Mukori pitches Learn or Teach at 1 Million Cups. Photo courtesy of Clever Mukori.

Concordia’s own are proving that you are never too young to start your own company. Clever Mukori, a 2017 Concordia College graduate, is launching an online educational services platform called Learn or Teach, where students and teachers can connect in an online learning community.

“Learn or Teach is an education services company that offers free all-purpose learning content and gives ratings based compensation to content contributors,” Mukori said.

With Learn or Teach, Mukori wants to promote individualism by providing people with a wide array of online content from countless contributors on any topic. This differs from other educational service providers like Kahn Academy because it is not only limited to academia; one could learn how to shoot a proper lay-up or bake a cake. One benefit is that hundreds of teachers, or “subject matter experts” as Mukori refers to them, could educate on the same topic, providing students the opportunity to discover which form of teaching they best respond to. Mukori wants to promote peer-to-peer learning methods like discussion boards for students to help each other rather than relying solely on a professor’s help.

Mukori’s idea for Learn or Teach has been brewing for quite some time. As a child growing up in Zimbabwe, Mukori noticed the poor educational system of his country at work. Although there are “government schools” in place of public education, students and families are still expected to pay for schooling and fees, even at the primary and secondary levels. This results in some families not being able to afford sending their children to school while richer families can send their children to successful private schools. Mukori was fortunate enough to be able to attend well-run private schools, but it was his awareness of this inequality of opportunity afforded to richer families compared to poorer families that inspired him to take action.

“I tried to think about what I could do to really help kids on the far end of the spectrum,” Mukori said. After having moved to the U.S., Mukori saw a need in the educational system here as well.

“Different communities have huge educational needs that are just different,” Mukori said.

The target audience for Learn or Teach is younger generations in order to facilitate a strong foundational education. This would be achieved either through reaching out to teachers and providing them with the additional resources that Learn or Teach provides or through informing parents on Learn or Teach’s resources so they can take initiative in their children’s education.

While the target audience may be younger students, Learn or Teach looks to benefit college students as well. Learn or Teach’s primary function is to provide free educational content to the public, but another feature Mukori aims to provide is a learning management feature, much like Concordia’s Moodle page. This feature could be used by educational institutions who would in turn register with Learn or Teach and essentially pay for an interface personalized specifically for that institution. For example, if Concordia were to invest in the learning management feature of Learn or Teach, Concordia students could sign in under their account linked to Concordia. From there, communication done through the current Moodle program would be done through Concordia’s personalized Learn or Teach program. According to Mukori, the benefit to students would be an up-to-date learning management program that also offers countless sources of information provided by content contributors one click away. Additionally, Learn or Teach would offer a “stream upgrade” to institutions for times throughout the year that learning management programs experience slower streaming, like finals week, for faster access.

Another ambition of Learn or Teach that is more applicable to countries like Mukori’s home in Zimbabwe is to establish learning centers for students who are unable to attend school due to the inability to pay for tuition.

“Sometimes it’s just psychological. These kids see their peers going to school and they don’t, so physically having a center where they can go to together with other kids and have this idea that ‘we are learning together’ puts social pressure on each other-positive social pressure,”  Mukori said.

Mukori had the opportunity to present Learn or Teach’s mission at 1 Million Cups on Feb. 21 at The Stage at Island Park. 1 Million Cups is a nationwide program “designed to educate, engage, and connect entrepreneurs with their communities,” according to the 1 Million Cups website. The local chapter of 1 Million Cups is hosted by Emerging Prairie, a Fargo-based non-profit. It is a weekly event open to the public with presenters who take the stage to pitch their idea or innovation. They also provide time for attendees to network and connect with one another.

“Our mission is to connect and celebrate the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Fargo-Moorhead area,” said Christopher Edgerley, Emerging Prairie’s experimental design fellow.

Edgerley stressed the opportunity that the 1 Million Cups event brings to not only local entrepreneurs and the public but also to college students in the area. Students can attend and learn from and network with up-and-coming companies, and potentially connect with a future employer who might be in attendance.

While Learn or Teach is still in the planning stages of development and is not yet an official website and business, this startup has big aspirations for the future. Mukori is looking to have the site up and running by the end of the summer. From there, the search for investors would begin with his team armed with this new product. After the launch of the original site, Mukori will be looking to engage with educational institutions about adopting the learning management feature of his site.

Mukori wants to affect change in the educational world, and Learn or Teach is looking to do just that.

“I want to empower educators to educate students,” he said.

 

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