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October 4, 2006

Online tutoring educates anywhere

By Wes Kappelman/Daily Correspondent

Now "e-tutoring" can join the ranks of e-mail, e-cash and e-zine in Internet jargon. Students in kindergarten through college can learn from tutors halfway across the world.

Niki Davis, director for the ISU Center for Technology in Learning and Teaching, thinks people will convert to e-tutors.

"I think the majority of people with enough money will go for an Internet-based approach for two reasons," Davis said. "It's flexible, it fits in your schedule and you can do the one-to-one tutoring."

Davis also said the whiteboard technology used in e-tutoring has been around for 20 years. She said the technology is also being used in Iowa and Florida in virtual classrooms for students taking classes that are not offered at their schools.

"One of the problems with e-learning is the people that need it most have the least access," Davis said.

Adam Plummer, senior in mathematics, said being able to do one-to-one communication is a good way to teach math.

"As far as quality of instruction itself, I don't think you really gain anything," Plummer said.

Joel Jones, senior in elementary education, agrees.

"It's a lot easier to try and focus attention in a one-on-one situation than if you're doing it over computer," Jones said.

Jones said because of e-learning's ability to teach specialized classes at smaller schools and its flexibility, districts that don't invest in the technology are going to be left behind.

One company that has started into the e-tutoring business is TutorVista.

In an e-mail, TutorVista academic director Jarrod Brown said about 20 percent of TutorVista's customers are undergraduates. For undergraduates, TutorVista offers tutoring in core classes, with other subjects depending on demand. The company has also offered graduate course-level tutors.

"TutorVista has worked with post-grads in finance, statistics and geology," Brown said. "Normally, within three weeks, TutorVista can organize the tutoring sessions to accommodate most requests for the undergraduate level and in three to five weeks many requests for graduate level courses."

TutorVista also offers test preparation for the GRE, GMAT, LSAT, DAT, MCAT and others based on demand.

"TutorVista has over 150 tutors, mostly located in India," Brown said. "Ninety percent of TutorVista tutors hold an M.A. or M.S. in the subject in which they tutor or they are top scorers on the test for which they do test prep packages."

Brown also said for tutors with only a B.A. or B.S., a second degree in education is generally required.

About TutorVista

TutorVista's mission is to provide world class tutoring and high-quality content to students around the world. TutorVista is the premier online destination for affordable education-anytime, anywhere, in any subject. Students access TutorVista from the convenience of their home or in school and use TutorVista's comprehensive lessons and question bank to master any subject with access to a live tutor around the clock. The TutorVista idea: help students to excel in school and at competitive examinations. The management team consists of professionals from education, training and Internet fields whose expertise spans eLearning, instructional design, technology-based learning, professional services management, and Internet technologies. For more information, go to