Alphademic Learning Visual Arts Student Helena Hu
Alphademic Learning: A Case of Students Teaching Students in a Time of Pandemic

Alphademic Learning is a student-led organization that was founded during the pandemic. The pandemic has negatively affected the whole world. But there were also positives as people strived to help others less fortunate. Alphademic Learning, as an educational initiative, was an answer to the difficulties encountered by students who had to adapt to a virtual classroom environment.

We love it when kids take the bull by the horns and step in to help their peers, and that’s just what happened here with Alphademic Learning. It was a pleasure to be able to award them with one of our small grants. We spoke to Founder Daniel Zhang to learn more about this nonprofit organization:

Kars4Kids: Whose idea was it to found your organization? When did that happen, and why?

Daniel Zhang: When the pandemic struck last year, many schools went virtual. Students—especially younger ones—were unable to receive the proper attention and education necessary. I founded Alphademic Learning because I realized that everybody, regardless of socioeconomic background, deserves the opportunity to achieve academic success and to move forward in life.

Kars4Kids: Are all the students on staff at Alphademic friends in real life? How do you all know each other?

Daniel Zhang: Some of us are friends in real life, especially those in the central New Jersey region. However, we have many tutors from across the US (and even some internationally!) who were eager to volunteer. Our tutors all have invested themselves in online academic communities, and were passionate about communicating certain topics with others.

Kars4Kids: Can you tell us a bit about your demographic? Who benefits from your classes? Where are your students located?

Daniel Zhang: While most of our students are in middle school, the beauty of classes is that many of them do not strictly follow standard grade levels. We have a significant proportion of students in elementary and high school who enjoy learning as well. Our students have diverse backgrounds and come from across the country. In fact, we currently have students from at least 40 U.S. states.

Kars4Kids: Who teaches the classes you offer? Are the classes interactive?

Daniel Zhang: Classes are taught by high school volunteers who have significant background in their subjects of interest. Throughout the lessons, we encourage students to ask whatever questions come to mind. Our goal is to create an environment conducive to genuine instructor-student bonds so that we can make the classes as fun and educational as possible.

Kars4Kids: What are some of the challenges of students teaching students? How do you keep students engaged?

Daniel Zhang: In past classes, some of our instructors have divided students into groups for debate. At other times, they have assigned optional homework to keep students thinking even outside of class. Students are encouraged to follow along with questions the instructors may ask, and many of our coding and art classes especially get students involved in creating big creative projects, such as designing a website or drawing artwork.

Visual Arts Student Annie Xu

Kars4Kids: Your courses are all free of charge. Some say that when you pay for something, you take it more seriously. Obviously, your organization disagrees. Can you talk about why you decided to make Alphademic Learning a free resource?

Daniel Zhang: We’ve been fortunate enough to receive donations from many of our students and their parents, which has allowed us to keep our classes free for everyone. I believe that there shouldn’t be a barrier to entry for students who are inspired to learn but perhaps can’t afford it. We wouldn’t have been able to serve so many students otherwise.

Kars4Kids: What’s next for Alphademic Learning?

Daniel Zhang: In the future we want to reach out to students who would benefit the most from our classes. Our goal is to make education more accessible to those from disadvantaged backgrounds or with disabilities. We hope to increase outreach to more instructors and students and build a community for the exchange of knowledge and creativity that will have lasting impacts for the future.

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