West Fargo highschooler builds plans for educational app

As a senior at West Fargo Highschool, Dieumerci “Chris” Christel is all too familiar with the frustrations of highschool life. Students often find topics difficult to learn, they get distracted by social media when studying, and they have no platform to connect with other students, Chris said.

Not to mention the app the school provides to connect with the school system, something called PowerSchool, never works, according to Chris.

“People are getting fed up,” he said. “The app crashes every time we try to use it.”

He’s come up with an idea for a social platform to change that. Chris’s idea is to create a social network where students can connect with each other, with teachers, and with learning materials. Setting up a profile on the site would begin with a learning assessment quiz, to determine if you are more auditory, visual, or kinetic learner. This quiz then determines what types of material the platform will filter your way.

Much of this material will come from preexisting resources for students that are very underutilized, Chris said. Discovery and CNN Student News for example, are ways to keep informed with news, blogs and videos created specifically for students. Teachers can also upload recordings and video from their lessons, and eBooks will be available as well, he said.

“I believe everyone is smart,” Chris said. “It’s just a matter of how you learn.”

Having the videos appear on a platform dedicated to school/study will also help eliminate the distractions of social media, Chris said. For him and many students he has spoken with, this is often a problem.

“The other day I’m watching YouTube videos to study, but when I see that the new 2017 GTR just came out… my mouse is heading over there and it’s really hard not to click it,” he said. “And students are exposed to so much trash out there. This [social network] will take all the distractions out.”

Future features could also include customizing the app to each school, so that students could get notifications on grade changes, homework, and even lunch menu items. Teachers and parents could have a login as well, to check in on how their students/kids are doing in class. And this is not limited to West Fargo, or even the United States. This is going worldwide, Chris said.

“This is connecting students to the outside world of education,” he said, mentioning how students here could learn a lot from students in the United Kingdom, and vice versa.

Chris hopes to turn the platform into a mobile app, but currently it is in “the idea stage.”

“I want to learn to code,” he said. “But, you know, it’s not easy.”

Possible options include hiring a developer this summer to help him turn it from a prototype he has created on his phone (shown in feature photo) to a working app. Chris has been accepted to a college in Texas and plans to go, but said he’d be willing to stay in Fargo if it meant bringing the app to reality.

This week, Chris is sharing his idea from the stage at Island Park for 1 Million Cups Fargo. The opportunity came after he brought it up to his school counselor Jamie Zuel, as a junior last year.

“He [Zuel] said dude that’s crazy, that’s awesome…maybe we need to get it out there,” Chris said. “But we had no idea how.”

In the following year Chris put the idea aside to work on his grades. In that time he and his idea matured, and now he feels ready to move forward, he said.

Although it’s still in idea stage, the end mission is clear. Chris believes education systems need to utilize better technology and keep students, parents and teachers, better informed.

“Education is not evolving with the level of technology we have,” Chris said. “We need to catch it up.”

Chris dab

Come hear Chris share more this week at 1 Million Cups Fargo, 9:15 AM – 10:15 AM at the Stage at Island Park!

Marisa Jackels

Marisa Jackels

, Feature