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Khan Academy Meets Wikipedia

By Drew Bent | Wednesday, August 18, 2021

People often ask me what schoolhouse.world is. They see Sal Khan is a co-founder and wonder how it’s different from Khan Academy.

One of my favorite responses: schoolhouse.world is Khan Academy meets Wikipedia. Let me explain.

Many people are already familiar with Khan Academy. The mission of a free world-class education for anyone, anywhere. Top-notch videos and interactive exercises that you can work on at your own pace.

Schoolhouse.world is similar to Khan Academy in that it is also an edtech non-profit started by Sal with a similar mission—connecting the world through learning. We do this through free, high-quality live tutoring.

But schoolhouse.world also pulls from the best of Wikipedia in that we are largely run by a vibrant community of volunteers.

Thus, schoolhouse.world is a free education website like Khan Academy, powered by a group of trusted volunteers like Wikipedia.

Let me try to paint a picture of this.

Vibrant community of volunteers

Tutors on schoolhouse.world are volunteers. We’re talking hundreds of people from around the globe, volunteering their time to tutor others. This is the bread and butter of schoolhouse.world.

But our volunteers don’t stop at this—they also help run the platform.

  • The social media team that runs our IG, YouTube, Twitter? Run by volunteers.
  • The certification system for tutors that is now factored into college admissions like UChicago’s and MIT’s? Conceived of and maintained by volunteers.
  • The blog team that runs this blog you’re currently reading? Run by volunteers. Even as COO, I needed their go ahead to post this.
  • The tutor development team that mentors new tutors? Volunteers.
  • …and this just scratches the surface…

This ethos permeates schoolhouse.world. For the community, by the community.

What this looks like day-to-day

Our community of volunteers live in a 1000+ person Slack. There are channels for specific regions, peer support groups, and each volunteer team.

Our roadmap and quarterly goals as an organization is completely public. We do have a few people who are full-time employed by the schoolhouse.world non-profit and build the core product. I am one of them. But we are in service to the community. And every full-time product team member is held accountable to their goals.

Volunteers may come and go, but they are a family. They do game nights together, share recipes, and celebrate each others’ successes. When one volunteer recently decided to take a step back, he was met with dozens of others wishing him best luck. Some other volunteers even decided to interview him and document his involvement at schoolhouse.world.

When one volunteer realized he needed to take a step back, he was met with an outpouring of community support.

How this came to be

When you look at schoolhouse.world’s history, none of this should be surprising.

Our co-founder and Head of Community, Mariah Olson!

”We began as a volunteer initiative. The first version of the platform was built by volunteers — even the code on CodaMariah, one of those first volunteers, now leads our vibrant community, the “Wikipedia” in “Khan Academy meets Wikipedia.”

Only months later did we incorporate as a non-profit and decide to formalize the organization. But by that point, similar to Wikipedia, we had such a vibrant community that there was only one path forward: the full-time team members were going to be in service to the community.

Why this matters

At schoolhouse.world, we see ourselves as not just a product, but the combination of a platform and a community. Both feed into one another. Without the community, though, we would be nothing!


Written by Drew Bent, COO of schoolhouse.world

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