Behind A Worldwide Tutoring Boom

An edtech CEO reimagines a growing sector and outlines the future.

INTERVIEW | by Victor Rivero

Michał Borkowski grew up in a small town in Poland before heading to Warsaw to study corporate finance at the acclaimed Warsaw School of Economics. He is the CEO and co-founder of Brainly and is responsible for product strategy, company strategy and culture. Michał and his co-founders established Brainly in 2009 in Kraków, driven by the conviction that collaborative online communities can empower students from around the world with knowledge and information. In a little more than a decade, Brainly has become one of the world’s largest online learning communities for students, parents and teachers. After moving to New York City and living there for 4 years to open and build Brainly’s U.S. office, Michał now lives in Poland with his wife, Kasia.

What was it about tutoring that you felt was in need of reimagining?

Personalized one-on-one tutoring is one of the most effective ways to help students learn. However, it’s long been out of budget for most. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, in-person tutoring also became a logistical challenge for many, underscoring the need for an alternative way to support students in need of academic assistance.

‘…in-person tutoring also became a logistical challenge for many, underscoring the need for an alternative way to support students in need of academic assistance.’

We knew we could use technology and the existing scale of our platform to make an instant difference. Brainly Tutor solves the affordability and accessibility challenges and delivers live help whenever and wherever a student is in need. With the ability to connect a student to a tutor in an average of 10 seconds, we also provided students with a tool they can use to get unstuck instantly, versus waiting for a pre-scheduled appointment to troubleshoot a problem.

Who is your solution suited for?

Brainly Tutor is a game changer for students and parents seeking unlimited access to 24/7 learning assistance, for as little as $96 per year – which is roughly the cost of two traditional tutor sessions. Having an expert “on demand” is also a real confidence booster, even when you don’t need immediate help.

What’s the next wave of edtech that will help kids get ahead?

Edtech’s next cycle of growth will likely be driven by AI and Machine Learning products that will allow for platforms such as Brainly to become more predictive and proactive. When edtech can effectively preempt where a student is likely to struggle, help can be available in advance to ensure students can progress through coursework with less friction. 

What about solutions for students who’re struggling or still feeling the effects of learning loss from the pandemic?

This is a place where our company really shines. While the pandemic was a challenge for most, the lack of structure and routine also caused some students to shoot ahead, without the support they would have otherwise had in the classroom. Our company offers students personalized help to support accelerated students and help those who are struggling to catch up. We believe that each student’s learning is most effective when it happens at its own pace, adjusted to their needs.

What’s next for Brainly Tutor and the platform overall?

Brainly is in a constant state of optimization with new features and experiences rolling out steadily. Users are most likely to be excited for Brainly Tutor’s expansion into new subjects beyond Math and Science, however, we’re already very excited for our AI investments which are likely to drive major game changes and improvements to the Brainly experience soon. It’s still a bit too early for me to share more details on that though. 

Victor Rivero is the Editor-in-Chief of EdTech Digest. Write to: victor@edtechdigest.com

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