Interactive Online Tutoring Services

August 19, 2009

New student from Toronto

Filed under: student updates,Tutoring — Rob @ 1:39 pm

It looks like I may have an adult student from Toronto. He is interested in taking engineering in university but needs to learn calculus, physics and some civil engineering. He has sent me two electronic books on calculus and I selected the best one for us to be working from. I suggested he go through the first chapter and attempt some of the problems on functions, before I teach him about limits and  the derivative.

He has a lot of the equipment he will need already including a writing pad and a scanner. So I think we will have no problem communicating. I am looking forward to meeting him online.

He had no problem with my charging for offline work.  I think this is a good way to work. He sends me his attempt at some problems, then I work on them offline, then we meet online and I address his concerns. This way he will learn more if he makes an attempt at the problems, rather than me going over the solutions.

May 20, 2009

New Student from Belgium

Filed under: student updates,Tutoring — Rob @ 2:08 pm

I Just had three successful online tutoring sessions with a student from Belgium. He is a Canadian taking an online course and needs some extra help with grade 11 math.

At first I used the online chat feature of the software I am using to communicate. We then tried to connect with audio, but it turned out his bandwidth was too small. He changed from wireless and that seemed to solve the audio problem. Now we are communicating in audio, I am using the whiteboard to write to him. He has tried writing to me with his mouse, and it works okay-but I suggested he might get a tablet so that he could write to me more easily.

I like being able to display files using the whiteboard one of the supported files is pdf, which is quite common I suppose. My scanner will save a document in this format so it makes it more useful to me.

The teaching is going well I think he is able to understand what I am explaining to him and the time seems to go by fast for both of us. I will see him online again on Wednesday May 27th.

July 21, 2008

Online Tutoring

Filed under: Tutoring,tutoring articles — Rob @ 3:38 pm

The Benefits of Tutoring Online

July 14, 2008 – 9:29 am by GlobalScholar

Online tutoring started in the late 90s and has quickly expanded since then. Some remain skeptical of online learning and claim that it is less effective than face-to-face instruction. I admit, change can be a scary thing, but evolution is what makes the world live on, and often works out for the better.

Below I have compiled a list of the benefits of tutoring online.

 Saves time and money
Tutoring online will save you time and money commuting, since you can have the session from the comfort of your home. You can prepare for a session in 5 minutes and stay in your pajamas and slippers.

 Online tutoring costs are usually 30-40% less than face-to-face
Since tutors can accommodate a higher volume of students through online tutoring, they often charge less for their sessions. They also get to cut transportation out the equation and can send files and resources electronically for free.

 Easy access to subject specialists
Online tutoring also allows you to hire multiple tutors in different disciplines all from the same place, cutting out the hassle of going from agency to agency.

 Instant trouble-shooting – get help right away, when you need it
Say you need help with a complex math problem in advanced calculus, it is 10pm on a Tuesday night, you live in a remote farming community and you need to know how to solve it for your test the next day. Easy, connect with a tutor online anywhere in the country at any time. This is where online tutoring takes the cake and face-to-face tutoring just can’t compete.

 Security
The safety of online tutoring is far superior to that of face-to-face. First of all, no tutors have to come to your house and your children don’t have to travel from home to receive tutoring. No personal information needs to be exchanged and money transactions take place through a safe, encrypted connection.

 Great for shy students
Most children are shy about their tutoring needs and usually aren’t too eager to ask for help. Online tutoring makes it easier for shy children to asks questions and engage more in the conversation. That allows for more open channels of discussion and promotes and comfortable learning environment.

So there you have it, a list of reasons to try online tutoring. The only real difference between online and face-to-face tutoring is the medium. With the use of voice over Internet protocol, verbal communication is possible online. Pair that with file sharing abilities, interactive whiteboards and messaging and you’ve got the same abilities as you do face-to-face.

June 9, 2008

Motivation and Learning

Filed under: Tutoring,tutoring articles — Rob @ 7:42 pm

Motivation and Learning

How Do I Motivate Students?

As a teacher, it is essential that you keep your students motivated. Tutors have also been through the educational system as pupils and know the importance of an enjoyable and rewarding educational experience. You may have known this all your life, or it may have become clearer later, when you started tutoring. Regardless of your own experience, motivating your students will always be one of your most important targets.

All students show improved motivation when they understand the reason why they are doing something, especially if they can see a direct positive outcome from studying. It is sometimes important for students to see the bigger picture. If a student must study a topic which he/she finds difficult, for instance to achieve a career aspiration, it can be a good idea to highlight the direct applications and pragmatic uses of this subject in a future professional context. Not everyone likes to study for the sake of studying; often, allowing students to see direct benefits motivates them to study. This provides a positive feed back and sets a goal; the more they understand, the more they can see the benefits, the more they want to learn.

It might not be so straight forward with younger students, as they may not have a specific idea of what they want to do later on in life. This being said, personalities form themselves very early on, and it can be a good idea to show the benefits of studying certain subjects. Let them know early, no matter what job they aspire to do, almost all jobs will make you sit some sort of entrance exams, usually covering some basic mathematics and English skills. Many subjects overlap, doctors need to be good with sciences, scientists need a good foundation in Maths, Biologist need a good understanding of statistics, a professional translator really requires more than just two languages, Computer related jobs often requires good mathematics and logic skills). For younger students, immediate benefits, and short term goals provide a much better motivation mechanism. Fun, games, and laughter often work as good tools for teaching children; however they are never wasted on adults!

Motivation and Relevance

Studying has to be relevant to be motivating; creating this relevant link is part of the tutor’s job. Think of a student finding maths de-motivating because it’s “too hard” or “it’s useless in real life”. Yet at lunch time, he likes to go to the gambling shop and places a few bets. He works out the odds in just a few seconds, yet when it comes to doing percentages and fraction in lessons, he fails miserably. The problem is not that this student finds maths “too hard”, but rather that he cannot see the relevance and thus finds it boring. A bored mind is easily distracted, and a distracted mind finds everything hard: have you ever tried to read a book and watch the TV at the same time? It’s not easy, and the activity that requires the least effort but most fun is usually easier to focus on and understand. So try and adapt your lessons to be as relevant as possible to each pupil. Make your tuition easy to understand, and make it enjoyable.

Motivation and Terminology

Many academic subjects use a terminology: although there’s often no need to use complex words to understand these subjects, specific keywords are usually required by examiners. Academics within their own field often like to make things seem more complicated than they actually are, although this is not always compatible with good teaching practice. Try not to confuse new pupils straight away by throwing in too many complicated words; you are there to pass on your knowledge, not to show it off, however tempting it can be to “sound competent”. As the subject becomes more familiar, you can then link the concepts to the terminology required by the examiners. Later, show that the use of these keywords is important when answering exam papers, and indicates through example what the examiners are expecting.

– Understanding 1st makes it easy to learn,

– Making it easy to learn makes it enjoyable,

– Enjoyable lessons are motivational

– Motivational lessons make the pupils want to learn further

Avoid De-Motivation

There is nothing more de-motivating than consistently being incorrect and failing at a subject. Avoid anything that can negatively affect the learning process. If your student is giving incorrect answers, it is best to avoid asking them similar questions or insisting heavily on a topic which they are likely to get wrong. You can make the questions slightly easier and lead them in the right direction by giving them clues. It is also a good indication on what topics need more work. These measures will have a more positive effect on your students that anything that will highlight their failure.


January 20, 2008

Article on Technology and Mathematics Instruction

Filed under: Tutoring,tutoring articles — Rob @ 9:27 am

The February 2002 issue of Teaching Children Mathematics (TCM) will focus on the role of technology in learning and teaching mathematics. Electronic technology is becoming more and more important in our society, and its use is being woven into the very fabric of new curriculum materials. The appropriate use of electronic technology should be an important part of students’ experiences with mathematics, both in school and outside of school.

The Technology Principle in the NCTM’s new Principles and Standards for School Mathematics (Reston, Va.: NCTM, 2000) emphasizes that technology plays an essential role in learning and teaching mathematics. Technology can help teachers teach in more effective and efficient ways; it can help students learn traditional topics more effectively; and it can help teachers, students, and parents assess students’ developing understanding and skills in mathematics. Technology can also provide access to mathematical topics and ideas that previously were not within the reach of students in the elementary grades.

Electronic technology is becoming more flexible, powerful, and easy to use. More powerful calculators and portable computers are rapidly erasing the distinctions between calculators and computers. Students have easy access through the Internet to a variety of resources and can share their experiences with students in other parts of the country and throughout the world. Electronic technology can also support the integration of mathematics with other subject areas.

The Editorial Panel wishes to highlight the appropriate uses of calculators, computers, the Internet, data probes, and other forms of electronic technology at the pre-K-6 levels of mathematics teaching and learning. We are looking for descriptions of successful and innovative uses of technology in the mathematics classroom, as well as articles that will give readers a rationale for using technology in mathematics instruction. Manuscripts that address related issues, such as technology and equity, are also welcome. The following list of topics and their related questions are intended to guide authors in preparing manuscripts to address one or more aspects of learning and teaching mathematics with technology at the pre-K-6 levels.

Implementing Technology in the Pre-K-6 Classroom

* What specific mathematical activities illustrate appropriate uses of technology?

* What general guidelines are appropriate for effectively using such technology as calculators, computers, and the Internet to explore mathematical ideas?

* What guidelines can help evaluate school or classroom use of technology or identify technologically rich learning environments?

* How can technology be integrated with other learning tools, such as manipulative materials, textbooks, and so on?

Technology and the Pre-K-6 Curriculum

* How is technology currently being integrated into curriculum materials?

* What impact might current and future technology have on future mathematics curricula?

* What new mathematical topics are made accessible through technology, or what mathematical topics are rendered less important because of technology?

* How can technology be used to integrate mathematics with other curricular areas?

* How can students gain access to real applications of mathematical ideas through the Internet and other technologies?

Technology and Mathematics Assessment

* How does, or can, assessment change when technology is used to teach and learn mathematics?

* What do students learn when they use technology in mathematics classrooms?

* How can technology facilitate teachers’ assessment of students’ understanding and skill development?

* How can technology help students be more successful on assessments at the local, state, and national levels?

Technology and Professional Development Issues

* What kinds of experiences do teachers need? What activities have been designed for teachers to help them learn how to use technology in the classroom?

* How can technology be used to address equity issues?

* How can technology be used to promote multidisciplinary instruction?

January 15, 2008

Online Tutoring Article

Filed under: Tutoring,tutoring articles — Rob @ 4:56 pm

The value of online tutoring can be broken down into a couple of different areas.  First and foremost is the convenience factor of online tutoring.  Online tutoring gives the student complete flexibility in when and where they receive their tutoring in whatever subject they might need help in.  For example, if I am a student and need calculus tutoring or earth science tutoring, I can contact an online tutoring company and schedule a session for the evening or the weekend hours.  It really does allow for complete flexibility.

The second reason someone would use an online tutor is for the anonymity of the process.  No one is going to sit here and tell you that tutoring is something that they want to do.  Tutoring is something that students need in order to do better in school.  Additionally, students who need tutoring do not necessarily want to have their friends and family know they need the extra help.  This is another area where online tutoring can be of value.  With online tutoring, you can get that extra help without anyone ever knowing it.  If you are an AP Calculus student, you can get the help you need and no one will ever be the wiser.  It truly is a valuable service from that aspect.

Another reason is that online tutoring is usually much more economical than traditional tutors in your hometown or city.  Typically, tutoring will run you anywhere from $45.00 to $60.00 per hour (on average).  In contrast, online tutoring will run usually just over $20.00 per hour.  For example, if I am a student who needs help in chemistry, and I know that I can get the help in chemistry for just $20.00, it might be worth it to me to schedule a session for that subject.

Certification and qualifications are also important factors when considering a tutor.  For instance, let’s imagine that you need an online chemistry tutor.  If you are a parent, or even if you are a student, it is a difficult decision to make whether or not the tutor you are considering paying for has the expertise to tutor chemistry concepts.  You have to ask yourself the question, “how do I know that this tutor is actually good at teaching me chemistry?”  It is a tough question and most people end up paying for someone who is not really that good at teaching.  In contrast, online tutoring companies and the tutors that work for them are usually certified in the subjects they teach.  Good online tutoring companies always make sure that their online tutors are trained and certified before they are ever allowed to teach.

Safety is always a big concern when dealing with service based businesses.  Online tutoring is no different, and a good online tutoring company will make sure that each tutor receives a background check before they are ever allowed to teach a subject with a given student.  Tutoring security also includes having some kind of recording capabilities to allow for each session which allows managers to make sure there are no malicious activities happening during the session with the child.

When you look at all of the factors involved, online tutoring really makes a lot of sense for students and parents alike.

January 7, 2008

Struggling with Math?

Filed under: Tutoring,tutoring articles — Rob @ 6:26 pm

Are you going to struggle with Math this year?

August 25, 2006

As the new school year is approaching, one thing is certain: Many students will struggle with their courses this year. As always, one of the most prominent areas of difficulty will be Mathematics.

It is not very difficult to understand why math is considered by most Canadian high-school and college students to be such a difficult subject. Math is a discipline that requires a basic foundation and a natural transition from core knowledge to more advanced concepts. However, the reality of North American education is that the transition rarely takes place naturally.

It is often the case that throughout elementary school and early High school, math is taught in a very disorganized fashion. While arithmetic gets more than its fair share of attention, intermediate core concepts are often glossed over by everyone except the very astute students. Only the dedicated students fill in the big education gaps in their spare time. What happens to the less dedicated students?

For other students, the true math difficulties begin in grades 11 and 12. At those levels, math transforms into a serious subject and cracks in the knowledge foundation begin to emerge. Those concepts that are natural extensions of what is considered to be basic mathematical abilities become difficult to grasp for many students.

As a result, many struggling students turn to a private math tutor for additional help, but this is often not a sure-fire path to better understanding. Most tutors have the ability to help students with their immediate areas of difficulty. However, only the more experienced tutors are able to detect true deficiencies in the students’ knowledge and fill in the gaps before concentrating on more complicated topics.

For those looking for a math tutor, it is very important to consider the tutor’s knowledge, experience, and approach, and not just the hourly rate. With math tutoring, like with anything else, you will often get exactly what you pay for.

In order to get the most out of tutoring, it is vitally important to establish specific short and long-term learning objectives early on. A good tutor will be able to use this information effectively in creating a structured learning progression, rather than concentrating on the irrelevant concepts.

January 6, 2008

Email Tutoring

Filed under: Tutoring,tutoring articles — Rob @ 9:03 am
When people think of additional school help for their child who is
struggling in math, they usually think of one-on-one private tutoring.
Private tutoring is a great way to get help for your struggling
child. The knowledge that a tutor brings to the table is not so important
as his ability to relate well to your child and to identify with
their source of difficulty. Even though private tutoring is the
way parents think they need to go, there are alternatives
such as email tutoring that can be a welcome help to your child.
The omnipresence of the computer and with online internet
service as ubiquitous as the telephone, email tutoring is
something that has come of age. Combine email tutoring
with the telephone, and you can now become a virtual tutor
capable of working with anyone across the country. Effective
email tutoring is the result of clearly defined questions
responded to with easy-to-understand answers. Critical to
effective email tutoring is a tutor with very strong written
communication skills. This is one area which I have worked hard
on throughout the years, and I attribute a lot of my success in
tutoring students—whether in person, on the telephone,
or via email—to my strong written and verbal communication skills.

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