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Whatsapp, our favourite escape pod into lighthearted conversations, snarky banters and whatever else we use it for these days is getting an upgrade. Kinda. A startup is layering a teaching tool on it.

Meet ChatClass, a product attempting to have high schoolers take classes on Whatsapp.

How does it work?

A student (with a data-enabled phone and support for Whatsapp) registers to have a tutor take him/her a subject at an agreed upon time slot, where both simply chat the lecture away. The service is presently limited to secondary school (high school) students with a subject range that includes Physics, Maths, Chemistry, English, Biology and Economics. ChatClass recently concluded a six-month beta in Nigeria, Uganda and Benin Republic, according to the founder, Olorunfemi Obasa.

Personal classes can be arranged between one tutor and one student and group classes between one tutor and multiple students.

ChatClass recently concluded a six-month beta in Nigeria, Uganda and Benin Republic. Students register at ChatClass.ng and homeworks are assigned and graded via email, Olorunfemi told TechCabal.

Yes, there is a problem with that. A fragmented platform – emails, websites and then Whatsapp – sets ease of adoption over the top. But if one looks beyond that, it’s a fresh take on educational solutions. It attempts to make learning social, bit-sized, light and remote (existing platforms such as Tuteria, Tutor and Prepclass still rely on physical presence of the tutors).

High schoolers already spend a lot of time on chat applications reading IMs after IMs that could amount into multiple chapters of a textbook. Layering this service on a platform they already know for ‘play and escape’ could ease them into reading more and learning. (Or…it could scar Whatsapp for them.) It’s too early to decide.

This is an interesting product but there are many concerns.

ChatClass doesn’t send tutors to homes, Obasa told us. It appears this is one of ChatClass’ major value propositions – keeping strange tutors out of people’s houses. The OLX episode earlier this year has made a lot more Nigerians cautious about letting unfamiliar people into their houses (especially close to their kids). It looks good, but it raises the concern of figuring out who is at the other side of the chat with theirs kids and if it’s the same person from one day to the next.

There is also the challenge with connectivity (which is currently inaccessible to a large chunk of Nigerians). For a solution that relies on sharing voice notes and images, the data-munch will be huge. The product is still at the early stages however, and should be tweaked along with consumer concerns. Perhaps ChatClass could build its own infrastructure, very much like Salman Khan did with Khan Academy

Photo Credit: dcJohn via Compfight cc

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