State of the Art Tutoring is Going Online

Changing technology may make traditional academic tutoring obsolete.

Academic tutoring is big business in the Chathams. A simple Google search for tutors in Chatham generates about 54,000 results. From private tutors to tutoring centers, families pay a significant amount of money to supplement their children’s education. 

Individual remedial tutoring is not only relevant in our town. Strong patronage of the tutoring business can also be seen across the country. While slightly off the highs of 2007, tutor industry statistics still tout a robust business. 

The hourly pay for a tutor varies among regions, but according to the Education Industry Association $45 to $65 is the national average. In what seems to be a recession-proof business, where some tutors make twice as much as teachers working half the hours, niche markets and basic curriculum are widely represented. There are some specialty tutors earning from $200 to $400 per hour.

Once considered a necessity for children performing below grade level, tutoring is now commonplace to provide even above-average students a competitive advantage. The test preparatory tutoring business is also popular with college-bound students. Be it private, small group or in-home tutoring, parents are willing to pay large sums of money in hopes of reaping the eventual rewards of a scholarship for their student.

With the proliferation of supplemental education websites, or e-learning services on the internet over the last few years, tutoring does not have to be expensive. There are creditable online education tools available free of charge, or for low fees. 

There are some compelling resources available online to help a reasonably motivated student get extra help with homework, special projects and tests.

A digital curriculum program tends to emphasize an alternative learning style, which incorporates an element of fun and relevance, appealing to the young and technologically capable student. 

Take Salman Khan, for example. With three degrees from MIT and an MBA from Harvard, Khan left a job in finance and founded Khan Academy in late 2009. Khan created educational tutorials on YouTube for young family members needing supplemental help with classroom material.  The eventual popularity of his academic videos on YouTube inspired Khan to start his own company. As of March 2011, the free Khan Academy videos have attracted over 45 million views. 

Another highly regarded online learning company has a silly name, Shmoop, and a serious reputation. Shmoop provides learning guides, test prep and teaching materials, successfully incorporating academically demanding content with an element of teen-friendly relevance. 

Shmoop launched in 2008 and has received numerous awards and professional recognition for it’s lively presentation of rigorous study material. In addition to the ACT, PSAT and SAT test prep courses, Shmoop now offers seven AP exam prep courses, including AP Calculus and AP Microeconomics, for $12.95 each. There are over 7,000 learning resources titles available on Shmoop covering U.S. history, literature, mathematics, bestsellers, poetry, biographies and more.

Numerous other online learning platforms offer affordable tutoring services, such as Virtual Nerd and Educator, Inc.

The most revolutionizing aspect of online education is what seems to be a common objective among start-ups to make learning fun, and to foster a desire and ambition to pursue information.  

As the iPad, e-readers, and smart phones continue to evolve and increase in popularity, m-learning, digital learning, e-learning, e-tutoring, digital curriculum, and homework apps will become more commonplace terms. In the not-too-distant future, e-learning may just put the tutor in the same category as the pedagogue.

Jodi April 01, 2011 at 05:33 PM
It's fascinating how the world of education is being revolutionized by technological advances. I, for one, embrace this change. http://www.jobvirtue.com


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