Foto: Helpr

The Utrecht maker of study bots, the start-up Helpr, has begun cooperation with the ‘‘Studenten helpen scholieren’ (‘Students help students’) organisation. This was set up yesterday. The organisation will provide online tutoring to children who are at home due to the Corona virus outbreak and who can use a helping hand.

The idea came from a student of Liberal Arts & Sciences in Utrecht who has a major in Innovation Management, Sander Bos. His sister is taking her final exams at secondary school this year. This weekend he decided to offer her tutoring so that she could relax a bit more when she takes her exams.  Bos says: “That was my intention anyway. But now that everyone is staying at home because of corona, I thought: we should make this possible for any children who need tutoring.”

Utrecht start-ups

That’s why Herman van den Berg, the marketing manager of start-up incubator Utrecht.inc. had contacted Helpr, which is located in the building of Utrecht.inc and specializes in online homework support. This is done using a study robot that answers questions via an app on a mobile phone. This type of tool is an ideal substitute for regular homework class in times when there is a risk of infection.

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    In order to provide online homework classes, ‘Studenten helpen scholieren’ uses Bitpaper.io. This is a free online platform where a tutor can chat and consult with a student about a problem the student wants to solve, Bos explains.

    There are also similarities with the major publishers of schoolbooks such as Thieme Meulenhoff, who has put all exam material online and made it available for free for students to practice. Negotiations are also ongoing with other companies.

    Free or pay with Tikkie

    On the Studenten helpen scholieren’s website, students schoolchildren can sign up for online tutoring or offer tutoring. In the first few days alone, more than one hundred students have signed up, says Bos. They can state whether they want to receive a fee, for example, of €5, by paying the student or their parents via a Tikkie payment request, or if they prefer to offer tutoring free of charge.

    If a student has no money, then they can get extra lessons from a free tutor, says co-founder Jaap Koelewijn from the study bot maker Helpr. There will also be a donation button on the website so that anyone who wants to can support the initiative financially. “At the moment, we do not have any financial problems. But we will soon need money to be able to do this.”

    More companies are participating

    Discussions are ongoing with various companies that want to offer services, such as the Dutch companies Kennisnet and and Remind Learning (who are currently very busy translating their available courses into English, ed.) and with secondary schools that are seeking tutoring support for students who need it.

    Do their online tutorials provide Helpr information that is useful for creating new study bots for specific subjects, which until now have been difficult to make? “No, because so far we’re not seeing that data at all.”

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