November 25, 2014

One-on-one online tutoring at $28 an hour

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© 123RF, 2012

eSchool News (2012) Online tutoring, speech therapy among new eLearning solutions, eSchool News, march 23

The Florida Virtual School (FLVS) is now offering online tutoring for math and science for any student, not just those taking an FLVS course. FLVS online tutoring is available whenever students need it: any time, any place, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. All students need to participate is a computer, smart phone, or other mobile device and access to the internet (and $30 and a credit card!).

FLVS online tutors are all college-educated instructors with a bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate degree in their area of expertise. The live, online tutoring sessions are conducted one-on-one with students. Tutors are available to help students with basic scientific concepts in biology, chemistry, and physics, as well as math concepts from basic through college levels.

The online tutoring is tracked by the minute, so students only pay for the time they use. Students may prepay for a plan or purchase tutoring by the hour at $27.99 per hour. In addition, the tutoring sessions are recorded and archived, allowing students to revisit previous sessions at no additional cost from their personalized video archive.

To help teachers and administrators, FLVS Professional Development courses are now available as well. Courses address literacy, Response to Intervention (RTI), student motivation, school leadership, and online teaching and learning. Certification is available for successful completion of the courses, the school says.

Comment

This reminds me of the HSBC advert in boarding tunnels at airports: Indian tutors now provide English teaching for 2 million students in the USA.

So $28 an hour seems a high price for individual online tutoring for school kids, especially when you can get the Khan Academy for free. I’ll be interested to know what the take-up is like at this price.

Special report on virtual schools

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Van Dusen, C. (2009) eSN Special Report: Beyond the Virtual School eSchool News, Nov 1

Because of the volume of stuff that comes through my portal, I don’t usually cover k-12 reports, but I’m including this one because it provides some excellent examples of what I like to call hybrid learning (reduced but not eliminated face-to-face time plus online learning) that could easily be adapted for post-secondary education use. It also looks at some ‘desperate’ schools that are using online learning materials in the classroom because they are short of qualified teachers.

This has prompted me to float an idea that has been bubbling around for some time in my head, to do with very large lecture classes.

We now have initiatives such as Carnegie Mellon’s Open Learning Initiative that develops high quality e-learning material that is designed to be used with local instructors. Carol Twigg’s National Center for Academic Transformation has also been re-designing large lecture classes with increased time being spent by students working online.

Why not go the next step, and have a state/province-wide or national program to develop high quality online materials for first and second year university students on at least a 50-50 model of face-to-face and online learning that can easily be adapted to local needs? (For example, modular, so if a local professor wants to add in something to the program face-to-face an online module can be replaced).

Do we really need Mathematics 101 poorly designed differently from scratch every year by thousands of professors then delivered badly by graduate students? Why not have a well-designed ‘core’ hybrid online program that can then be adapted and modified, supervised and managed by local research professors, with (specially trained) graduate students as online and face-to-face tutors?

Some students may need all the face-to-face teaching they can get; others may manage the whole program online; while others will appreciate the blended model. Some departments may well be happy to take the whole online program; others may want to use only small bits of it; others may want to mix and match with local, face-to-face teaching. All we need to make this happen is for professors in different universities to agree to work together on the initial design. Not much to ask, is it? (Yes, I’m joking.)

Comments, please!

Special report on learning with 3-D video

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Stansbury, M. (2009) eSN Special report: Learning in 3D eSchool News, December 11

Will three-dimensional video be the next flavour of the month in educational technology? Quite possibly.

Costs of creating and showing 3-D video have dropped dramatically – under $700 for projection/viewing. Throw in 3-D sound and you are running up to $8,000 on the ‘show’ side towards the top end. However, the real costs are going to be on the content production side, and we run into the same problems here as with educational gaming: is the market big enough to justify the investment?

The other challenge as always is pedagogy. What are the educational benefits and how will 3-D be integrated in the curriculum? I think in terms of educational benefits, it’s really easy to make the case. Many concepts that we deal with in educational are three dimensional, and students would certainly get a deeper understanding of many concepts if they can be displayed three-dimensionally. However, it is also important in higher education at least to be able to move from the concrete to the abstract and back again, so the teaching challenge will remain.

This is a report well worth reading if you are interested in being on the cutting edge of educational technology – but remember, you often bleed on the cutting edge.

New research on educational games

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Stansbury, M. (2009) Can gaming change education? eSchool News, December 9

An interesting article on educational games with excellent links to the original research reports. Also a good analysis of the barriers to educational gaming. Perhaps the most important point made in the article is that ‘researchers are still in the early stages of trying to determine what works and what doesn’t when it comes to educational gaming design’.

Hints on a national strategy for educational technology in the USA

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Downey, G. (2009) ED’s new tech chief previews national plan eSchool News, December 2

This is a report of a recent speech by Karen Cator, the new director of education technology at the US Department of Education. The new National Education Technology Plan will have four areas of focus: access, assessment, learning support, improving cost-effectiveness/productivity.

Cator said that the U.S. Department of Education (ED) will unveil the first draft of the administration’s National Education Technology Plan next month.