Research shows that when young people receive tutoring from people close to their own age, results are dramatically improved. The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF Toolkit) highlights peer education as one of the most effective strategies for learning.
Wayne Harrison has been carrying out research into this topic at Durham University as part of his PhD, after completing an MA in Research Methods in Education in 2015. Wayne approached Consult and Design in 2016 with the vision of creating a secure online peer tutoring application that could improve young people’s lives and change the way tuition is delivered forever.
Consult and Design’s consultants have been working in formal and non-formal education settings for decades so Wayne’s vision and passion created an instant connection. Our uniquely relevant experience has resulted in a highly productive working relationship with the Peerz vision as our inspiration.
With safeguarding at its heart, we worked with Wayne to discover ways in which young people could learn together online using material created by education experts. Consult and Design’s process was the perfect tool to take Wayne’s innovative idea and turn it into a reality.
The Peerz platform is used in a variety of situations including schools, universities, colleges and in the home. It was vital that it was easy to use for learners, tutors and parents. Consult and Design worked with stakeholders in all of these roles to ensure that the platform was developed with the user’s needs first. Having regular testing sessions in all the different situations we were able to get user input early and therefore ensure it works for everyone.
The main engine of the platform is a Drupal system that allows people to register, parents and institutions to verify users, and for learners to find the tutor they want to work with. Peerz education experts developed the curriculum content for each subject, which is accessible to tutors in advance of the sessions. The content is then automatically uploaded into the learning environment when the session takes place.
Online peer tutors work with students via audio link, text chat and a collaborative interactive whiteboard. We looked at a range of solutions to provide this functionality to find the ideal learning space and then integrated our chosen system into the Drupal application.
“It soon became clear that our common experience and commitment to education and learning makes Consult and Design and Peerz an ideal match.”
David Van der Velde, Director, Consult and Design
“Consult and Design have proved a critical partner in the development of Peerz. Their understanding of the education sector coupled with tireless technological innovation has been invaluable.”
Wayne Harrison, Founder and Director, Peerz Academy
The Peerz Academy online platform provides learners with a safe space to book and receive online interactive peer tutoring sessions.
- A Drupal platform to manage users, learning content and scheduling online peer tutoring sessions in formal education and home environments.
- Integration with an online learning space to facilitate safe, secure and interactive 30-minute peer tutoring lessons.
- Technology infrastructure to support development and testing, while enabling the platform to scale at ambitious rates following the launch.
- Custom payment system to take payments from parents and make payments to tutors following online sessions.
The results are clear. Peer tutoring is a great way for young people to learn and the Peerz platform is loved by students and mentors alike. Results include:
- Development of an innovative learning platform that enables young people to safely engage in online tutoring with their peers.
- Testing with learners and tutors at home, in schools, universities and colleges with constant improvements, resulting in a tried and tested user experience.
- Roll out to over 100 schools in the North East, with 1000’s of sessions taking place with learners reporting a measurable increase in their knowledge.
- Parental purchasing system launched with expansion expected in 2018.