Tech-savvy Sunnyvale teens have created an online volunteering platform — RemoteTA — to match high school students with K – 12 teachers worldwide — from Sunnyvale to South Africa — who request help in creating digital learning resources for their classes.
A teacher in Mexico learned about RemoteTA through the Global Online Hackathon #BuildforCOVID19 in spring of 2020. RemoteTA was one of 89 winners (https://covidglobalhackathon.com/) out of 1,560 projects submitted.
“I was thrilled and felt the project had been validated, to see other people believed in the project as much as we did,” said Homestead High School senior Arnuv Tandon, president and founder of RemoteTA, which is eager to build relationships with teachers, schools and school districts.
Once high school students register with the nonprofit RemoteTA (Remote Teacher’s Assistant), they go online (www.remoteta.org) to volunteer for any teacher’s project that suits their interests and skills, from creating slideshows to online games.
Homestead High School senior Arnav Kulkarni, RemoteTA chief technology officer, created a project for Anisha Madan, his former fourth grade teacher at Cherry Chase Elementary School in Sunnyvale, where, along with a school in India, RemoteTA was beta tested.
“There are lots of ways to volunteer,” said Kulkarni, “but I’ve never before found a way to help the teachers who’ve helped me.”
With 300-plus teacher’s assistant volunteers (mostly high school National Honor Society students from the Fremont Union School District), teachers don’t have to wait long for help.
Within minutes of when teachers post class projects, eager volunteers snap them up, creating online projects to the teachers’ specifications and saving the teachers hours of preparation.
Teacher Jamie Shatek at St. Joseph Community School in New Hampton, Iowa, had 10 volunteers for her first project within 10 minutes of posting it.
“[Remote TA] saved me so much time on day-to-day tasks that I … just don’t have time to do,” said Shatek. “It allows me to focus on activities for my students that are more engaging…[and I get] all these resources to help me do them.”
Geographic distance from Sunnyvale is no constraint. RemoteTA volunteers have already assisted more than 70 teachers from the U.S., Mexico, Ghana, South Africa and India, the birthplace of Fremont High School junior and RemoteTA regional manager Mano Tatapudi.
“With no person-to-person contact because of COVID, students like me have had a hard time giving back to the community,” said Tatapudi, who likes that she can connect remotely with teachers, expanding her community to the world.
Remote TA is not just about logging community service hours for high school graduation.
“Students feel rewarded when they volunteer with us,” said Fremont High School junior Jai Bhatia, Remote TA secretary and director of marketing and business development.
“Activities like walkathons raise money. With Remote TA, teachers share how the projects help their students. You know the impact you make. It’s much more rewarding. We gain so much helping the teachers.”
“Even if you just try RemoteTA once, you’re going to be shocked at how smooth the system is and how great the quality of work is,” said Shatek. “I think you’re going to use it as much as I do.”