In summary, openSchool and my other edtech-related projects align with LearningPlanet’s mission to deliver quality, inclusive and sustainable education for all. We hope we can further meaningfully engage with LearningPlanet and its global network to foster intergenerational methodologies and solutions, and through innovation, create a brighter future for all students across all areas of education, employment and entrepreneurship.
What are the causes that are important for you and the youth today and why?
Each of us uses the Internet (mobile phones, personal computers, etc.), and as such, large companies can collect a lot of data about us. I think privacy is an important focus area for youth today. Personally, I believe that an open-source community can solve this issue. Open source is software that allows anyone to see its source code and change it. It’s a big community of developers, and their main task is to create free and secure software which anyone can use for personal purposes. For commercial purposes, payment may be required to be made to the developers.
What was the first moment of enlightenment that encouraged you to take action for the society you live in?
It was in 2021, during a thorough review of the current educational system in my city. In Moscow, we have a system called “МЭШ”. Some schools in Moscow can’t use this system properly, because it’s proprietary and non-flexible. After noting this problem, I decided to make a Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS) analogue to “МЭШ”, with the support of my classmates. We also talked to our school’s administration about the implementation of openSchool. They have agreed to use openSchool, if we would make it within a determined timetable.
What were the difficulties you faced at the beginning of everything? How did you overcome them?
As many would know, app development is not a very easy process. The most difficult part was to organize the work process: find a team, spread tasks between this team, and control and monitor how the team works. I asked some of my friends who also believed in the power of open-source software and they agreed to do this project – it is a self-funded project. To spread tasks between the team we used Trello. And to control the work process I created a small system to analyze the GitHub repository (more information on this here).
What are the projects you are currently working on? What are the challenges you and your organization are facing today?
As of May 2022, our team has commenced the process of onboarding openSchool to our school and publishing it to App Store. The first part is almost complete, but the second challenge remains difficult, as Apple has conducted numerous rounds of questioning on our app, focused on the profile of end-users as well as the source of funding. We believe that we will fix all issues and we are confident that Apple will approve our app. For now, anyone can download this app on Android, Linux, macOS, Windows, and iOS through TestFlight.
The app shows lessons for specific dates (example here shows the timetable for 20.06.2022). Then, the app shows detailed information about the lesson: the first block gives us information about the location of the class, the second block shows the user name of the teacher, and the third block allows students to write homework by tapping on it and, of course, while displaying the homework. Next, the app displays the list of homework the students need to do by a specific date.
How do you think we can involve young people who want to make an impact but do not have easy access to opportunities of getting involved (because of language, lack of network, difficulties to access and use technology tools…)?
I think it is the responsibility of large companies to give an opportunity to youth in playing a larger role in technology research and development which is inclusive, as many youth do not have access to new technologies.
At the same time, there are not many platforms for youth to learn computer science on a complimentary basis, while there are a lot of free online books and materials about programming and new technologies.
What is your advice for young people who want to make a positive impact? How should they begin?
Personally, I believe that IT (and youth engagement in this area) can make a positive impact on society, so I would recommend learning more about programming (maybe Python), so they can understand how it works. Python is easy to learn and it is very popular now. Python can be used in AI, mobile apps development, and others. I believe that if all youth gained the basic knowledge of innovation and technology, the whole world could pursue more coordinated and collective actions to tackle our global problems.
I am the Founder of openSchool, and an advocate for open source software. openSchool consists of me as a Founder and CTO, as well as three other students in my city, and the project was formed in 2021. I started my journey in computer science at the age of 10, and I have developed mobile apps, Telegram bots, and some devices using ATmega microcontrollers through Python, Dart, Swift, PHP and a bit of C++. Currently, I have developed more than 8 open-sourced programs.
I intend to pursue a degree in Computer Science or Software Engineering, and I seek to use the experience gained by developing openSchool and turn it into a regional or global initiative because I think that there is now a lot of proprietary and non-secure software in schools. In the future, I want to establish a tech company, one that will focus on developing open source software.
I think it’s important to support open-source software, because it gives privacy to people. At the same time, open-source provides free and secure software for all to use.
Useful links to find out more
- openSchool – openschool.cc
- openSchool (Github) – github.com/opensch
- Dmitriy (Github) – github.com/superdima05