New App Seeks to Make Teachers “Experts” on Their Students
UNDATED --A budding entrepreneur has designed an education app that aims to help teachers become "experts" on their students.
Enlight is the brainchild of Chris Dieumerci. He’s a junior at North Dakota State University, majoring in Business with a minor in Entrepreneurship.
Every Tuesday and Thursday throughout the fall, Dieumerci has made the roughly 300-mile round trip from Fargo to St. Cloud to participate in gBETA, a new networking group for entrepreneurs.
It’s a testament to how passionate Dieumerci is about his creation. Born in a refugee camp in Tanzania, Dieumerci came to the United States at age 10. He says the transition into the American school system – and learning English – were greater challenges than he anticipated.
“The idea for (Enlight) really started with me in high school,” Dieumerci explains. “At first, I thought teachers were super boring.”
This perception changed when Dieumerci encountered a particular teacher.
“My (English language) teacher – she took me under her wing. She really got to know me.”
As he began to thrive academically, Dieumerci started wondering how he could help other students – and teachers – access the same success.
“I did some research, and I realized – teachers are basically public speakers who don’t always know their audience. So, I went on this mission – how could I help teachers get to know their students?”
After interviewing around 200 teachers, Dieumerci created the Enlight system. To start, students download an app on their smartphones, tablets or computers. From there, they’re asked to share information about their hobbies, interests and passions.
“We ask them about what inspires them – what’s their ‘why’ in life,” Dieumerci says. “How often are students asked that?”
They’re also prompted to describe how they like to learn.
“We ask them, ‘do you like projects. Do you like lectures?’ It might be the first time they’ve considered this. We know that every student learns differently,” Dieumerci explains.
Once the surveys are completed, Enlight compiles the information for teachers in a digital file. The app also generates class profiles by aggregating the student data, highlighting similarities in student responses.
“You might find that the top interests in the class are technology, or poetry, or basketball,” Dieumerci explains. “Maybe most students prefer group projects. All those things are ways that a teacher can use to access students.”
Dieumerci says one of the strengths of Enlight relates to anonymity.
“We’re all more willing to be honest behind a screen,” Dieumerci says. “Some students – they don’t want to share certain things about themselves and look like a nerd. They might answer ‘sports’ when they’re actually interested in something completely different.”
Enlight is currently in beta testing with 16 teachers and 300 students, with a waiting list of 89 others. Dieumerci says, right now, participating teachers are paying $50 to use the app. The goal, he says, is to eventually sell the app to school districts.
As for Dieumerci himself, he doesn’t plan to stop at Enlight. His goal is to be a “serial entrepreneur.”
“I dream about building companies with a social impact,” Dieumerci says. “I want to change lives.”
This is part five of a five-part series on local entrepreneurs participating in gBETA Greater Minnesota-St. Cloud’s Pitch Night. Each participating company will give a five-minute pitch in front of an audience of investors, entrepreneurs and community members. Pitch Night will be held on Thursday, Dec. 19 from 5:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center at St. Cloud State University.
To learn more about gBETA, visit their website.