AASA School Solutions

Online Tutoring: Just in Time Support

by GEORGE CIGALE

When Tutor.com was founded in 1998, the idea was simple: Use the Internet to connect a student to a tutor for live one-to-one help anytime, from anywhere.

Limited web access and slow bandwidth back then made launching the Tutor.com service a challenge. Even more difficult was that students, parents, teachers and administrators had yet to realize the Internet could be used for online education in such a meaningful way.

George CigaleGeorge Cigale



What kept us going in those early days was the overwhelmingly positive feedback we received from students. They told us that using our service was unlike any educational experience they’ve ever had. They told us that Tutor.com gave them the help they needed to complete their assignments, improve their self-confidence and earn better grades.

Tutor.com is the world’s leading online tutoring company, having conducted more than five million sessions. Recently, the U.S. Department of Defense decided to make Tutor.com available 24/7 to support military children and adults from all military services. We’re also a proud member of the AASA School Solutions Center.

Positive Perceptions
The perception of online learning is shifting. The past 10 years have shown how online tutoring has improved the lives of millions of students, and federal stimulus funds are making it easier to bring innovative ideas into the classroom. Today’s questions are about what new tools and practices are available to schools to support students academically.

Online tutoring lets students meet with a tutor anytime, from any computer, without ever needing to make an appointment. Students typically work with their tutor for 20 to 30 minutes in our online classroom, where students and tutors work through problems using an instant-messenger text chat and a shared whiteboard, and focus on a specific problem or issue on which the student has been working. And since the session is recorded, students, parents and teachers can review it.

Typical intervention models rely on a teacher or an assessment to diagnose a deficiency in a student’s understanding of a topic or concept. The prescribed intervention can then work to remediate the problem. Online tutoring is a completely different model. Rather than relying on periodic assessments to diagnose problems needing remediation, students with access to an online tutoring program choose to work with a tutor at the first sign of difficulty when they are most receptive to some extra help.

The most frequent application of online tutoring is to support daily homework completion and school assignments. Millions of students get stuck on a key concept while working on homework and don’t have reliable access to a person who can offer high-quality help outside of school.

Repeated failure to complete homework assignments can quickly cause students to fall behind, leading them down a path to low test scores or course grades. Online tutoring offers students access to help at the exact moment when they get stuck and a way to break the cycle of missed concepts and incomplete homework assignments.

Differentiated Instruction
Online tutoring is a one-to-one learning experience that allows for truly differentiated instruction. In anonymous online tutoring sessions, students are not shy about telling their tutors exactly how they need information to be presented. Comments such as “I need to see an example of graphing a quadratic equation,” and “I want to see this in chart form” are common in session transcripts.

Students who have regular access to online tutoring and homework help programs report higher levels of confidence that may lead to students enrolling in more challenging coursework. In fact, in a recent Tutor.com survey of more than 1,000 students, 86 percent of the respondents said they would be more likely to take an Advanced Placement course if they knew an expert tutor was available to help them online at anytime. Many states and schools see improving student enrollment in higher-level mathematics and science courses as a critical component of their overall college readiness plans.

Online tutoring and homework help programs offer schools a remarkably effective way to provide key academic support to their students. Online tutoring gives students access to help at the critical moment it is needed, so they can go to school the next day, ready to learn.

George Cigale is founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Tutor.com based in New York, N.Y. E-mail: gcigale@tutor.com


AASA School Solutions Partners
Chapman Kelly, dependent health-care eligibility audits.

FARS, school food service check recovery

K12 Insight, survey tool

MedExpert, medical issues management services for self-insured districts

National Joint Powers Alliance,® municipal contracting with vendors

Optimum Expense Recovery and Consulting, cost recovery

Paetec, telecommunications for businesses

Pfm-Financial Services, procurement card program for schools

Pixetell, visual communication and collaboration software

PowerIT, cost-saving web technology solutions

Tutor.com, one-on-one online tutoring