Online tutoring platforms provide help around the clock


Now, technology is taking off and there are lots of online tutoring options available for students of all ages, at all times.

When college senior Rafael Garcia was behind in accounting, with an exam fast approaching, help was only a few clicks away.

"I'm more of a last minute studier. I started using online tutoring because I realized I, like, needed help and all the tutors were taken in school," said Rafael.

Thanks to technological advancement, online tutoring programs, like the one Rafael uses, are taking off.

"Screen sharing programs are now commonplace, webcams are now commonplace, and so it's possible for a tutor to get pretty much the same view of what a student is doing, as is possible face to face," said Harvard University professor Chris Dede.

Webcams, virtual whiteboards, faster broadband connections, and the ability to upload and share assignments, have given rise to a host of options for students of all ages.

"Via screen-sharing technology, your tutor can pull up a specific platform that your child can then see on the other end of that device," said Katharine Hixson, an educational consultant. "It allows for real-time working through a mathematical problem, or they can pull up an essay and the child can see as the tutor goes through word-by-word or line-by-line."

Some companies even offer up instant help for students when they're stuck.

Alison Johnston Rue co-founded InstaEDU, which launched last year. She says on-demand assistance is in high demand.

"No matter what time it is, 24/7, with online tutoring you can log onto your computer and connect with a tutor almost instantly," said Johnston Rue. "We've seen our usage grow 50 percent month over month all through the year."

Education experts say some school kids might actually be more comfortable, and feel less judged in the virtual tutoring environment, so this technology can be a vital teaching tool.

"The way that kids communicate has changed, so they now expect technology to be utilized in every form of their learning process, which includes tutoring," said Hixson.

One caveat: each company has its own criteria for tutor qualifications, so experts caution - there's no industry-wide standard when it comes to tutoring.

Hixson says that is "a concern for some parents and people in the community."

"However, by doing reference checks, looking at tutors' resumes and going with a reputable company, you should be able to by-pass any of those concerns," said Hixson.

Rafael plans to log on whenever he comes across a confusing concept, and says he received a high B on his accounting test.

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