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Saturday, December 1, 2007

Online tutoring

Hey, anyone interested in online tutoring? If you are living outside US, this is an opportunity to earn US dollars. I was back in Malaysia in August and hit off this idea to a retired teacher. I suggested that there are many retired teachers in Malaysia who may still enjoy teaching and would like to be financially independent. I believe that the invaluable experience they gained in their years of service and the education and training they obtained under the British system would be useful and fill some special needs of the teaching industry. I could start a tutoring agency and recruit the retired teachers and assigned them to students in US. They will have all the necessary materials and the computer network will be set up. Alas, it didn't augur too well. After all, who would believe that a virtual, long distance relationship between a teacher and a student would work. Also, perhaps many people from the older generation are very fearful of computers. So I shelved this idea until I read the headlines in today's local newspaper 'Overseas Tutoring Click In'. Actually the first time I read about this concept was in this book that I mentioned in one of my earlier post - ' The World is Flat' by Thomas L. Friedman.

Three companies offering online tutoring services were featured in this newspaper clip - they are TutorVista, Growing Stars and Sylvan Learning Center. I was taken aback when I read that TutorVista even have tutors from Singapore. So I think we should be able to find tutors in Malaysia as well. I think some people are confusing this online-tutoring concept with the idea of using computers to learn subjects i.e. get a CD or go online to do your self-study. In online-tutoring, a teacher is there to help the student progress in his or her study. The teacher will be able to explain important concepts that the student is struggling to grasp and correct any misconceptions or guide his or her when they are stuck. As an online tutor, you need to have a computer with a high-speed Internet connection, a headset and a digital drawing tablet and pen.

And to quote a passage from the book - 'The first e-tutoring businesses started less than 3 years ago, and already thousands of Indian teachers coach US students in math, science or English for about $15 to $20/hour, a fraction of the $40 to $100 that private tutoring costs in the US...'. So it is mutually beneficial for the teacher and student in terms of money. While these online tutoring companies hire highly educated tutors (Masters or PhD degrees), I think we have missed the group of retired teachers. Somehow I think they have some endearing qualities that the younger people may not have.