Over a year after lock downs were first introduced around the world and schools had no choice but to go remote, adjustments are still being made to adapt learning to the new normal. From teachers having to adjust their curriculums to work over Zoom to standardized tests getting cancelled, the changes faced by the education industry have been incredibly daunting and the long term consequences they could have on students is yet to be fully understood. Students, already typically more vulnerable to stress and anxiety, are facing greater pressures during this time. Though the scope of the “learning gap” that will be caused by the pandemic is still unknown, there is no doubt that the consequences will be felt long after education returns to “normal.” On an individual level, how much will this gap get in the way of future careers and earning potential? And on a societal level, how will this impact future innovations and governance? Students are, after all, the future.
There is much discussion about what can be done to minimize this learning gap, and one solution is actually quite obvious — this is online tutoring. The concept of tutoring and its benefits is by no means news. Even online tutoring has been around in various shapes and forms for many decades. But the last few years, even before the pandemic, there have been a crop of online learning platforms whose focus has been to make online tutoring really great. These sites have made it possible for online tutoring to be just as convenient, on-demand, and affordable as other services students have become accustomed to in recent years. Students can order a ride, get food delivery, and download movies at the tip of their fingers. Why should it be any different with tutoring?
So how do these online tutoring sites work? Studypool, a platform that launched in 2015 and has been “flipping education upside down,” according to Forbes, has a very simple way of handling online tutoring. When students need help, all they have to do is post a question, set a budget (which can be as low as $1) and time limit, and tutors will bid to answer the question. Tutors’ ratings are public, just like those of Uber drivers and Airbnb hosts, and Studypool awards badges to tutors with expertise in specific subjects. Suppose you need help on an environmental engineering question, you can look out for tutors with the Engineering badge. Students pick the tutor they want to work with and start getting the help they need.
Other platforms offer a service that’s closer to traditional tutoring. Varsity Tutors, whose parent company Nerdy recently went public at $1.7 Billion valuation, for example, let’s you book online tutoring sessions by the hour. The typical cost per hour is $70-95, which can be a great deal when compared to private tutors who can cost $200+ per hour.
Tutors have always been helpful to students who needed extra support to learn, but the process of finding a tutor, the commitment of setting a regular meeting time, and the high costs were of course major barriers that got in the way for most students from using these types of services. Now, with these online platforms, tutoring is easier and more affordable, and students really can focus on what they need to learn. It’s no wonder the online tutoring industry is getting so much buzz and it’s certainly something that will likely continue to be very helpful and popular amongst students even when they return to in-person learning.
Are you a student who’s used online learning resources to get through the pandemic? Which sites have you used and did you find them helpful?