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It’s 11pm and you have a question about your math or science homework. You just can’t seem to finish your English or History paper. You’re 5th graders homework is beyond what you as a parent ever learned in high school… Do you have a solution? Where are you going to get help? Good news. There is a convenient, simple, and increasingly affordable solution: online tutoring. Online education and online tutoring is not a new concept, however in the past few years there has been a proliferation of companies and individuals providing this service. So what is online tutoring?

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The concept is simple and fairly self-evident. A student would connect with a tutor or educator through an online medium or online based classroom. Then they can work through their educational or academic challenges. Typically a combination of media issues for example, video feed audio feed and an online whiteboard along with screen sharing. Almost like being there live.

“We provide 15-20 hours or online based education to our students each week.” says Dr Steven Greene, the lead educator at mAke the grAde a Philadelphia PA based service. Some of this are 1 hour sessions that are similar to our face to face tutoring, but many are in 10 minute blocks to accommodate students who have just 1 question or just need a single concept explained.”

Greene goes on to talk about the convenience of the system.

“Clearly there is an academic and educational advantage to the student as they can get help from an expert, but there also is a convenience advantage as students are able to tailor the amount of time needed to their specific question so the process becomes very efficient. Also the ability to get help when they need it is priceless.”

An example of one of Dr Greene’s online sessions can be found here: http://youtu.be/2GxVlYuXo9U

What do online tutoring services instruct?
Academically, pretty much everything.

Subjects range from general math such as arithmetic, algebra and geometry right up to calculus in addition there are students who have questions about science topics like general science, and the more advanced classes like chemistry biology and physics,. Additionally History, English including writing term papers, and foreign languages are popular. There are clear advantages… Imagine being able to learn Spanish from a native speaking tutor in Spain! Or being able to learn Chemistry from a working Chemist. And it doesn’t end there… an increasingly large number of students also work on standardized tests like the SAT and a ACT college admissions exams and further get coaching for the application and essay process.

These services are not hard to find. A single search of the Internet shows that just about anything can be taught or learned online those in the education arena and outside of it. There are topic basic sites dedicated to this field such as Udemy and Creative Live. Companies like tutor.com and y2academy.com which provide subject based tutors appear to be popular as well. Here is a link to a review of several of the large companies: http://online-tutoring-review.toptenreviews.com

But does it work? Is it effective? Can one really learn this way? College students, High school students, Middle School students and Parents all seem to love the concept.

“I never would’ve made it through my freshman year of college” reports Jenna currently a student at Penn State University. “It wasn’t my classes were overly difficult all the time, but the volume of work was challenging, and it was very reassuring to know that I could get help that was really effective when I needed it and I didn’t have to be locked into a strict schedule. There is plenty of help on campus but it doesn’t always work around my schedule”.

Charles, now a High School senior in California was happy to have the option. “We had checked out several local tutors and some of the big house prep classes but but we wanted something that was one-on-one and more tailored to my timetable and my instructional needs. We found that online tutoring was the best of all worlds when it came to prep for the ACT. The best part about it was that I really connect with my tutor and my score went up 5 points which was phenomenal.”

Finally parents are happy to have the help. “I was fine working with my daughter until 7th grade. At that point the Math and Science were just beyond what I remember.” said Andi, a mother of three who seemed to have a full time job just managing homework time. “Having to oversee homework for all of the kids become too much. And honestly, it reached a point where they just didn’t want to work with me or their dad. The online service is just great. We use it when we need it and my kids love doing it. Really it’s a life saver.” Want to check out a sample online tutoring session: http://youtu.be/2GxVlYuXo9U

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Finally, try before you buy. Most tutoring companies, including mAke the grAde, will offer a free trial session before you commit to anything longer term.

Dr Steven Greene is the lead educator at mAke the grAde. They are a full time academic services and tutoring company based in the Philadelphia PA area. Since 1996 mAke the grAde has worked with over 7 000 students and their families including nearly 1 000 using online tutoring. You can reach him at sgreene@makethegrade.net

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