Harvard student develops Wave Learning Festival, offers free online courses

A Harvard University student from the Bay Area is helping educate others during the pandemic. Karly Hou from Palo Alto and a graduate of Gunn High School is one of the founders of “Wave Learning Festival.”

The program offers free online courses designed for middle and high school aged students all over the world.

There are no grades and no tests. The teachers are mostly college students.


Hou said Wave Learning Festival is a place where people can connect in real time and share their love of learning.

“So far we’ve had over 5,000 student registrations from 37 countries and regions,” said Hou. “And that has just totally blown us away at all the students who have taken initiative to continue learning during the pandemic.”

Hou is entering her sophomore year at Harvard but is back home with her parents during the pandemic. Hou and several other undergraduates launched Wave Learning Festival to keep younger students engaged while schools are closed and many summer activities have been cancelled.

”I remember talking to my friends at high school and hearing them talk about how little structure there was and how confused and lost they felt because everyone was dealing with this new situation,” said Hou.

”I don’t think I can say enough good things about Wave Learning Festival,” said Ana Rodrigues, a high school student from Massachusetts who is taking several online classes. She first found out about Wave from an Instagram post. Classes take place in real time, so participants can ask questions and get instant feedback.

Rodrigues said she has been able to explore classes that are not offered at her high school. “We can talk about all sorts of topics like contemporary art to public policy so it’s been different in that way that there’s not as many restrictions,” said Rodrigues. “But I’ve also been able to explore new subjects in a way I never had the opportunity to explore in a normal school setting.”

Classes are mix of traditional and non-traditional courses. They include game theory, satire writing, and the cultural values of hip hop.

All courses are free. Hou said their goal is to provide all students equal opportunities to succeed. “At the heart of it, one of the most important questions we are trying to solve is the issue of educational inequality. Especially during the pandemic many families are strapped for cash and we don’t want to add to that burden,” said Hou.

To learn more or sign up for a class visit http://www.wavelf.org/.

Get breaking news alerts in the KTVU News app. Download for iOS or Android.