Sunday, June 27, 2010

Coming to a screen near you: an online tutor

By Christopher Middleton Published: 10:00AM GMT 05 March 2010

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Online tutor: mentor Will Orr-Ewing shows how easy it is to have an online precision event with a tyro in a remote location Skype type: mentor Will Orr-Ewing shows how easy it is to have an online precision event with a tyro in a remote place Photo: ANDREW CROWLEY

It"s a normal Thursday sunrise in South Kensington, but 24-year-old English mentor Will Orr-Ewing is giving a infancy surprising lesson. For whilst he is in London, his tyro is in Geneva.

Welcome to the dauntless new universe of online tutoring, where the clergyman isn"t a man in tanned hide bend rags who comes around to your residence each Tuesday teatime, but a man who sits at a computer depot multiform hundred miles away, and communicates with you around a headset with built-in microphone.

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"I know that relatives throw up their hands at the discuss of today"s shade culture," says Orr-Ewing, owner of upmarket Keystone Tutors. "The law is, though, that young kids feel it"s far less of a duty to lay down in front of a computer than it is to lay down in front of a raise of books. And if anything, an online precision event is some-more structured than a face-to-face situation, since usually one chairman can verbalise at a time."

That"s since oral information exchnage comes down the computer phone-line hook-up well known as Skype (free of charge). Meanwhile, combined information exchnage takes place on the computer screen; both mentor and tyro can write or pull on a computer-screen "whiteboard", that performs the duty of a common blackboard, dangling in cyberspace. If you want, you can set up a webcam and see the face of the chairman at the alternative end, though that"s by no equates to essential.

At initial hearing, it sounds a rather automatic and unbiased arrangement. What strikes a some-more agreeable note, though, is the price: as small as �15 an hour, compared with the �45 it can cost for face-to-face tuition. Plus maybe �15 for a microphone headset.

As it happens, the rate Keystone charges for online education is the same as it charges for the in-person kind: �40 an hour. But firms who are quite online can do it most some-more cheaply.

The association Home Tutoring Online, for example, has a two-tier charging structure. You compensate �25 per hour to sinecure a veteran tutor, and usually �15 for a stream university student.

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Astonishingly, others can take their prices even lower. At Maths-Whizz (ages five to 13), they assign �99.99 a year for total hours, and at My Own Tutor (maths up to A-level) a small �90 per year.

Mind you, the approach they do this is by dispensing with the flesh-and-blood mentor altogether. At Maths-Whizz, they have combined 1,200 on-screen, charcterised arithmetical exercises (swirling snakes and chopped-up cheeses) that are automatic to each child"s capability level. And at My Own Tutor - that additionally offers endless live education services - they shade pre-recorded video maths lessons that young kids can watch as most times as they want.

"The great value is that students don"t have to be concerned about their mentor removing cross, or impatient," says Maths-Whizz owner Richard Marett, who claims that 90 mins a week outlayed on his exercises will, in the march of a year, urge a child"s maths "age" by 1.6 years.

So what do relatives think of online tutoring? "I was unequivocally impressed," says father of 4 Nicholas Wright, from Bexley, in Kent, who has used Home Tutoring Online for dual of his children.

"From the point of view, we didn"t have to keep receiving the young kids to and from the tutor"s house," Wright says. "We additionally got regular, minute reports on how the young kids were progressing. With a genuine tutor, you usually ever get rather deceptive feedback.

"Results-wise, the education got the son up from a C in maths GCSE to a B, that is what he indispensable if he was going to grasp his aspiration of you do maths at A-level."

That said, of course, the immeasurable infancy of education in Britain is still finished the normal way. "The occasional online event competence be utilitarian if, say, the tyro wants the mentor to check their essay," says Mylene Curtis, of precision giants Fleet Tutors. "But there"s no surrogate for face-to-face tuition."

Hear, hear, says Hertfordshire father Mike Evans, who went to group First Tutors to find a clergyman for his 16-year-old daughter, Ellie. "She unequivocally clicked with the guy, she favourite the approach he taught and right away the school"s presaging her an A at GCSE maths, rather than a B," he says.

"It"s a make a difference of peculiarity control," says Helen Spiegelberg, of Greater London Tutors. "Our tutors are CRB [Criminal Records Bureau} checked, and have all attended the mandatory precision seminar."

Undaunted, though, online tutors are seeking to move not usually in to homes, but schools, and Honeywell Primary, in Battersea, has already sealed up for a year"s supply of Maths-Whizz.

Meanwhile, Keystone trainer Will Orr-Ewing is seeking over tenure time.

"In my view," he says, "online education would be a great approach of assisting pupils fill in those prolonged summer months."

Schoolchildren of Britain, you have been warned.

Who are you going to call?

First Tutors, 0845 224 8294, Fleet Tutors, 0845 644 5452, Greater London Tutors, 020 7727 5599, greaterlondontutors.comHome Teach Online, hometeachonline.comHome Tutoring Online, 0789 022 0917, Own Tutor, 0800 082 3441, Tutors, 020 7581 4466, keystonetutors.comWhizz-Maths, 020 7262 6952,


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