CommuniTeach asks: What do you want to learn today?

By August 5, 2010

Simple concepts — learn and teach for free, combined with an honest vision to create tangible community connections is what CommuniTeach hopes to bring to your neighborhood.

CommuniTeach is a free service that allows people to connect in person, teach skills, learn and foster their community. Visit their website, create a profile, and search within your own network of friends, or find others within your community who are happy to help you on your path to enlightenment.

Currently based in Chicago and Pittsburgh, CommuniTeach holds several Social LearnIts where teachers can demonstrate everyday skills to the more exotic variety. Sessions can be one-on-one, or group based. CommuniTeach provides the equipment. Popular classes have included beer brewing, yoga, cooking and swing dancing. “During every LearnIt you can see the excitement. People are not only learning new skills, but getting to know each other,” Founder Sarah Press said.

If you’re doubtful you have a skill to contribute think again. Founders Press and Ben Paul believe that everyone has something to share. They even provide a quick assessment quiz that can help shed light on your special talents.

Press, a management consultant in Chicago, IL was attending University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill when she first had the notion to create a service to help others learn. Press had a tendency to fall asleep on the student lounge couches, and the University staff members would wake her up in time for classes. To repay their kindness she would tutor their children, and from this service Press created SWAT, the Student-Worker-Alliance-Tutoring program.

After SWAT, Press wanted to reach a wider audience and joined forces with Paul, a friend from high school, to take her idea to the next level.

The initial contact point may be the internet, but ultimately CommuniTeach puts you face to face with your neighbors. The website doesn’t support an online learning format because Press and Paul believe in-person interaction is crucial to effective learning and detrimental to fostering a sense of community. “We want people to use computers to get away from them,” Paul said.

Paul, a University of Pittsburgh graduate and Ph.D. student is adamant about learning. “A social change in attitude is needed. In-person learning is more effective, social and community building,” Paul said. “Our service is more social network, scalable platform and enables anyone.”

In the past 12 months CommuniTeach has racked up a Sprout Fund grant, organized Learnapalooza, a learning festival with over 17 host venues, 60 teachers, and 300+ attendees, received a Scalewell grant, was featured on a Chicago-based television show —  WCIU’s “You & Me in the Morning”, and organized multiple Social LearnIts in vegetarian Indian cooking, swing dancing, guitar, yoga, knitting, pool playing, beer brewing in Chicago and Pittsburgh.

Press wants users to know they don’t have to be an expert to teach. “Try it out, take a risk and learn a new skill. CommuniTeach is trying to make Chicagoland and Pittsburgh a better place to live through learning,” Press said.

For those of you that need to get your learn on Communiteach has a special offer for readers of FlyoverGeeks: The first three people to leave a comment will have Communiteach organize a Social LearnIt of their choice!

Communiteach User Page