School budgets have been cut and classrooms are now packing in more students than ever, so when will teachers get a break?
According to Ahwatukee Foothills resident Candace Holmes, that break could come as soon as this fall. Holmes aspires to make life a little easier on educators, students and the environment all with one idea.
Candace and her husband are the creators of eHomework Wiz, a computer software program that allows K-12 students to complete and submit their homework online. It is a paperless way of assigning homework.
The software can automatically check students answers all at once, or a teacher can choose to go through them one-by-one. It also points out questions that numerous students miss.
Holmes suggests that the time saved grading individual answers will allow teachers to focus on these problems areas.
It is not attached to a specific curriculum, so individual teachers have more control when creating lesson plans. eHomework Wiz simply walks teachers through the steps of creating an online homework packet.
Their inspiration to develop the software came to them a year ago when their children's schools went green and started sending out newsletters via e-mail.
"Kids and schools have been really interested in recycling. Now they are interested in reducing, and our software would reduce a lot of paper waste. It's a whole new area," Holmes said.
The couple ran with their idea and entered eHomework Wiz in the Pepsi Refresh Project in June. The Pepsi Refresh Project gives away $1,300,000 each month to individuals, non-profits, and pro-social businesses that have an idea that will have a positive impact on communities. The top 10 ideas at the end of the month in the $25,000 category receive funding.
Unfortunately, the Holmes faced indomitable competition and their concept didn't rack in enough votes to receive funding.
But that isn't stopping their progress. They are currently testing different parts of the program and working on getting a website up and running.
Holmes acknowledges worries about the software being too costly, but assures that even though they didn't win the Pepsi Refresh Project they are doing everything they can to keep the software affordable.
"At a time where most people are rushing out because the schools don't have money, we are rushing in because we are trying to help solve their problems," Holmes said.
Candace, who is a former IT professional, and her husband, who has been a software developer for more than 20 years, are using their combined knowledge and hard work to create a product that would be feasible for schools to purchase.
"When people see that this is the kind of program you would get from a very big software company they will be amazed. It will be supported that way, there will be tech support, and training and all the things you would expect from a big company but it will be so inexpensive. If all the schools in a district have a fundraiser they will be able to afford this product," Holmes said.
Another possible uncertainty that Holmes addresses is the fact that not every student has access to a computer outside of school.
Her solution to that worry is either printing the homework in PDF form and allowing them to complete it traditionally, or having after-school time where students can use computers on campus to complete their assignments.
Holmes anticipates that by mid-August they will have a demo available, and by the fall they will be able to offer it to schools in the Kyrene district.
If interested in more information or have a suggestion, e-mail Holmes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Erica Tiffany is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a senior at Arizona State University.