Former Ditmas Park resident Jamie Forrest and his business partner Glenn Nano have extended their technology start-up, AnswerQi, to involve high school students in the question and answer process.
Nano and Forrest, who lived in Ditmas Park until last year, developed AnswerQi to offer on-demand help for problems pertaining to technology including Windows, Mac, Microsoft Office, Gmail, Facebook, Androids, iPhones and iPads.
"Google solves most of your problems, but there are plenty of idiosyncratic problems you need a real person to solve," Nano added.
After developing the website, Forrest and Nano decided to involve high school students in the process.
"We were school teachers for the first couple of years out of college," Nano said.
"And one of the core beliefs of education is that there's a whole population of young people out there who have the ability to help people around the world."
So, Nano and Forrest decided to prototype a program involving high school students as technology consultants.
"We're doing a pilot program with the High School for Math, Science and Engineering in NYC," Forrest said. "Students from the school will be online answering questions for free. We're calling it 'Students Become the Teachers.'"
"This pilot would not have been possible without the leadership and collaboration of founding HSMSE teacher Jen Boylan," said Nano. Boylan, who has led her own program with students, led the students' efforts in marketing and communications, he continued.
A group of 16 high school juniors and seniors answered questions from 4-6 p.m. Wednesday and will repeat the process, which turned out to be highly successful, today, Forrest said.
"[The students] learned the basics of everything Jamie and I do," Nano said.
"From brainstorming to product strategy to some technical aspects of coding and design. [They] were getting questions about some specific formatting in Microsoft, how to read articles on the web offline on their iPads and questions about Facebook privacy issues."
While yesterday and today are part of a pilot program, Forrest and Nano plan to turn this into a larger operation.
"We're going to work with the High School for Math, Science and Engineering next year, but what I'd really love to create is a replicable program where students can take it to other schools," Nano said.
The pair also plans to reach out to schools in the five boroughs to explain the program. "Schools in Brooklyn will definitely be on our minds," Forrest said.