Thursday, September 22, 2016

Online Education Boom & The Online Factory Mill

Dian Schaffhauser of Campus Technology wrote today that:
Nearly a million more students were taking at least one online course in the United States during the fall 2009 term than the previous year. That dramatic growth rate is about 10 times higher than the growth rate of the overall higher education student population, 21 percent versus 2 percent. Those are the findings of the latest research in "Class Difference$: Online Education in the United States, 2010," a multi-year project that examines online education in this country, performed by Babson Survey Research Group in collaboration with the College Board and funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
Unfortunately, though, in our experience many, many universities that are strictly online are little more than degree-mills.  Here is what an anonymous administrator who provides online sourcing for one major American online university says:
"A lot of people might think that it is the programs or the administration of these for-profit online institutions that are the root of the problem.  However, as I work with and get inputs from their teaching faculty, it is clear that many of their instructors do not have the least understanding of pedagogy, and some of their requests in terms of service show that they are little more than rubber stamper with little or no interaction with their students.  Instead, they are the administrators themselves, ticking off boxes based on students' performance in asynchronous environments, devoid of feedback and inputs.  Students' only form of feedback is a tragically inflated grading system meant to give students what they are paying for--passing grades and, tragically for many students, a worthless degree."
Many online campuses, in order to overcome exactly this criticism, are turning to online tutoring providers to give their e-campuses a human touch.  By providing a minimum number of either synchronous or asynchronous interactions with an online instructor--often a third party provider--they can provide the students with the sort of learning-driven feedback that should be a basic component of any education, either online or offline. 

In a telephone interview, Amy Donahue, an online educational consultant and head of Business Development with Syntax Online Education Development, a consulting firm working primarily with higher education, noted that while many online campuses are moving towards pursuing a mass-market model, the value of their offerings still depend on the value of the education that they offer.

"Small class size, one-on-one time with instructors as well as teaching assistants or online tutors, and timely, learning-driven feedback on assignments is still essential to developing the skills needed for later academic or professional success," says Donahue.  "Failure to provide quality education is failure to provide a quality product, and while now the market is still fairly naive about online education, the Princeton or Harvard of the online environment is still waiting to be made."

The research has found that the concentration of online students tends to be at the largest institutions--those institutions that already might not fair the best in terms of quality of education. The report states that schools with 5000 or more online student engage fully two-thirds of all online students.  Many of these maintain little more than a skeleton campus, with a few thousand students, with thousands of students online--both within the United States and abroad.  The the University of Phoenix, founded in 1976 as a upstart college, is the largest private university in North America with students at over 200 campus locations and online learners studying dozens of programs all over the world.  The value of a degree from the University of Phoenix is debatable, but a very convincing argument would have to be provided for anyone to think it compared to a tier one or tier two brick and mortar university.

"These institutions capitalize on the fact that a bachelor's degree is today's high school diploma," says Donahue.  "It isn't that they are without promise, but generally they tend to contribute to the cheapening of the bachelor's degree and the destruction of the value of their own market--online university degrees."

We also support Ms. Donahue's conclusions.  Online education can offer the same education value as traditional brick and mortar institutions for many degree programs--but at present, most models do not achieve that.  A mix of small, online classroom environments, supported by one-on-one online instruction by highly trained course support tutors, with exceptional instructor feedback and a focus on student skills--not just giving students "the grade they paid for."

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Marketing Online Tutoring: The New Gospel--Going Local, Not Global

How Do You Market Online Tutoring?

Launching an online tutoring service is no mien feat. The technology and teaching aspects, although critical, are not what will get your business off the ground. Instead, it is attracting students, and that translates into sales and marketing—and you need to consider this in the very beginning of your venture.

You need working technology and appropriate pedagogy, don't get me wrong—but if you don't have students, then you don't have any use for either.  Therefore, before investing in a tutoring platform or buying the latest chemistry books to brush up, consider these questions:
  1. Who is my target audience?
  2. Where are they?   
This is the New Gospel of Marketing Online Tutoring--going local, not global.

The Cost of Internet Marketing & Online Tutoring

Online tutoring makes sense as a start-up.  The infrastructure costs can be, at least to begin with, almost nil.  What many do not recognize is that the traditional approach--driving traffic to an Internet site--isn't a sustainable model for newcomers.  Marketing requires a huge investment, one larger than most self-starters are going to have.

Online marketing makes sense, too, since whoever sees it already has the minimum technology required to use it.  However, you have to be smart about online marketing from the beginning. You can pour thousands of dollars into Google Adwords and only attract a handful of students to your site. Why? Basically, because there are big organizations out there outspending you. Try it—do a Google search for “online tutoring” and scroll through the first 10 pages. Then just go to Adwords and calculate the cost per click they are paying.  Look at what Google AdWords advertisements are being featured. How many pages would a potential student have to see before seeing your Web site?

Getting Online Advantages

There are ways, though, to give yourself an advantage. The first and foremost is your domain name. If you are providing online tutoring, you need a Web site. The name of that Web site can have a big impact on who finds it. So, for example, searches for "new york city math tutor" and  “new york city online math tutoring” both come up with Craigslist as the top search result. This is a very good indicator that (1) There is no domain matching the search very closely, and (2) Money isn't being spent on those particular key words. There might be a reason for that--it could be the traffic is itself very low, meaning not a lot of students or parents searching online for math tutor listings.

Therefore, even before you begin your Web site you should look at Google Adwords and Google traffic estimates (based strictly on Adword spending).  Google now has a stand alone tool to estimate Google Adwords cost and traffic.  A rough rule of thumb (and this might be a goal rather than what you see) is that you can covert 1 out of 2000 visitors to your site into a student.  That means if you want four paying students, you need at least 8,000 visitors to your Web site.  Other places you might want to calculate advertising costs are on Facebook, or placement of banner ads on other high-traffic sites.  This gives you a sense of the cost to capture a potential tutoring student's click on the online market.  Don't forget the value of posting ads in free online classifieds like, Ebay Classifieds, or even the online classifieds at your local paper level. As we saw, a Craigslist add was the first two displayed items when we searched for "new york city math tutor."  While free, they require registrations and time to place each ad, and many have spam monitoring in place which means your posting and drawing attention to your advertisement is limited.

We do not know of any tutoring program using social media like Twitter or YouTube to draw large audiences, but these do assist in their branding and Search Engine Optimization.

A good domain name should have “tutor” as the first term, or you can even have a tutor dot your domain name sub-domain. So “” would be a great domain name. Bad news is it is taken, but this could actually be good news. It is taken, but it has been purchased by a domain re-seller and is just parked. You might pay a couple hundred dollars for the domain, but if it has been live for a few years, that will increase its appear in search results (Web site age is a plus, even if you change 100% of the contents). Whether you purchase a premium domain or create a new one, your domain name will impact your Web marketing effort and cost from Day 1.

You have to throw the net wide, however.  You could do this through your advertising campaign, targeting different states, for example, or you could have a number of landing pages or mirror sites--like  that in the end direct traffic towards yourself. What this strategy allows you to do, though, is target folks who may be looking for local tutors rather than just online tutors. If you already have a Web site, you can simply add a mirror sites with localized names that redirect at some point to your own.  However, if you have a site something like "" I highly suggest you turn that into "" to help improve your organic--that is non-paid--Web traffic.

This means smart Internet marketing and search engine optimization is key in creating a site that will have some success.  However, we suggest that the Internet might not be the best place to sell your Internet product.

 Localizing a World Wide Service

The key is to localize a global resource
A second reason why “local, not global” is the New Gospel of Online Tutoring is because it also allows you to focus your marketing. Google Adwords and Facebook campaigns can be used to target a specific geographical region as well as demographic. The problem is, though, if you are too localized you simply will not get any traffic.  It is a double-edged sword, though, because unless you have at least a $250 a day marketing budget, you aren't going to get much traffic with a nationwide campaign, either.  More traditional marketing venues are critical for the new business--however, localized online marketing can provide a valuable tool for lead generation and a possible trickle of customers.  At least it can be a reference at home for people to learn more about your company after hearing about it in traditional ways--in the newspaper, on a business card, or at a PTA meeting.

Localization also allows you to localize instruction and marketing and product focus. If you know the New York Regents exams are part of your local state curriculum requirements then you can target marketing speficically towards those tests, then spending your money on related key words, reaching the right parents and students who are looking for something you can specifically help with (and target).  Don't forget about localizing social media as well like Facebook (and yes, your company should have a Twitter and Youtube channel even if they haven't been proven to be the marketing tools of the future).  

Another local marketing strategy is using local online forums and classified ads. Use Craigslist and contact GroupOn about a local offerings.  If you can get local or state coverage of your business in the newspaper or their online edition, that is a great way, too, to help drive organic traffic to your Web site as well as smoothing the way for you to move into the local market.  If your somewhere like New York City or Los Angeles, with a large student population, we think you could very well build a competitive online program for your local market.

Selling an Online Service in an Offline World

Also, by going local you can do your own local marketing such as speaking to the local PTAs, posting your own fliers, speaking with local educators, parents and others and spreading the word.  Offline, advertise in the free classified papers and distribute fliers and brochures to local libraries. Working in the local market you can develop programs, like focusing on the local AYP tests, that are aimed at
Don't underestimate the power of an in-person meeting
local students--at least on the state level.  If specializing in a state curriculum, it also makes sense to apply for status as a Supplementary Education Provider through the NCLB programs.  If selected, it is a mark of endorsement that can be used for more than selling tutoring to local education agencies. It also allows you to follow local news, participating in state education debates and lobbying, and making yourself a respectable player, recognized by those you could work with in the future.  Strengthen your value and credibility in the local market—places where the Big Boys have a harder time penetrating.

Local radio advertisements, local access television, city and state publications, and a yellow pages listing can be effective lead generation points.  And a memorable Web site name can be easier to recall than a seven digit phone number we didn't get to write down.  These more traditional, local marketing strategies for tutoring are likely the future for new comers to online tutoring.  It is a market that is becoming more saturated every day.

Outside of those coming in with a wall of money and Web teams for marketing and SEO or targeting a distinct and yet penetrated markets such as in Spain, Brazil, France, or even China, other countries where there is yet to be country/language specific online tutoring leader emerge.   A recent example of this is the first Arab tutoring service that launched this week.  These are markets that still have room for small players trying to have a global reach.  Those markets, though, are another story waiting to be told.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

How to Get an Online Tutoring Job?

Online tutoring jobs can be rewarding, but you must meet academic, professional, and technical standards to qualify

Online tutoring is much like traditional tutoring only it is facilitated by two computers connected to the Internet.  While the same academic and teaching qualifications are required, there is also the need to be tech savvy and ready to learn new technologies.  Also, because the computer and Internet connect teacher and student, certain technical requirements must be met in order to use those technologies.

Online Tutor Employers

It really depends on what work you would like to do, your education background, where you are located, who you want to teach, and the compensation you want to receive. A large online tutor employers in India is There are other smaller online tutoring companies that will have similar pay structures and working times if you would prefer. In the United States, Tutor.Com and are the largest employers on online tutors.  A new player aims to be entirely mobile and work from your mobile phone is WiseChalk.  In terms of pay structure, see if there is a base pay, if you are paid more if you are assigned students or what to do in times students are not appearing or scheduled. Be sure you understand the pay structure so you can make an informed decision. You may also want to shop around and look at what different employers are offering. Look on job sites like or Monster Jobs to get some idea about what companies are looking for tutors.

There are also "tutor exchanges" where your pay may depend solely on your students--meaning, you only get paid if you get a student through the exchange. Generally, these are not as competitive or steadily remunerative. I've known tutors to be signed up for years on some exchanges and never actually get connected to a student. However, newer platforms like WiseChalk promise pay of $20-40 per hour, making it one of the highest paying platforms.

There are also some organizations that employ internationally based tutors to tutor English for ESL students in China, Korea or elsewhere. Without a TEOFL or CELTA certification or equivalent, it can be hard for non-Western speakers of English to secure these positions, especially for East Asia.  However, some companies like Muntinlupa are Philippines-based tutoring companies.  The Philippines has emerged as an English teaching hub for East Asian students.

Online Tutoring Technical Requirements

No matter where you are, you will need a reliable, broadband Internet connection. We suggest nothing short of 256 kps connection. If teaching from India, you will also require a backup power source for your computer like a UPS to ensure you are not suddenly disconnected from the student in case of a power outage. A headset and microphone and possibly a digital writing table will round out your hardware requirements outside a dependable computer.

Of course, now, however, some platforms are aiming to be entirely mobile.  WiseChalk promises to work with only a 3G connection, and because it is developing apps for browsers, Android devices, and Apple devices, you can tutor from your smartphone or tablet as well as your PC.

Your computer ought to have at minimum 512mb of RAM, or 2gb if running Vista. Apple computers can be problematic, and some proprietary software tutoring companies use will not run on Apple operating systems. All Apples should have at least 2gb of RAM, however. You should also have, of course, an updated browser, a Word-compatible word processor, Adobe Reader, and an updated virus protection as sometimes you may be required to receive files from a student's computer. To protect your computer, these should be virus-scanned before opening.

Academic Qualifications for Online Teaching

Most tutoring companies have testing and application procedures that include knowledge tests, mock tutoring sessions, as well as verifying your identity and teaching credentials and certifications.  Tutoring companies require a Bachelors degree in the subject being taught, but many are insistent on at least a Masters degree and at least some teaching or tutoring experience online or offline. 

Therefore, if your spoken English (or the target language if for non-English speaking students) is clear and correct, you can pass a subject test that verifies your theoretical knowledge of the subject, have documented teaching experience and academic credentials, can use the technology to teach in a learning-centered way, then applying to an online tutoring company is probably the best way to go as it sounds like you are well qualified!

See our Online Tutoring Jobs page to see companies that are currently hiring, and contact us if you are hiring or know a company that who is!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Tutoring Service With a Mission

We recently had the opportunity to interview the people behind EduCare, which we Tweeted about recently.  Educare is an online tutoring company that donates part of its proceeds to help support the education of the disadvantaged.

EduCare is run by its founders, Piyush Mangukiya and Dinesh Jasani. Piyush Mangukiya is the co-founder and CEO of EduCare.  Originally from Western India, Mangukiya came to the U.S. in 2007 to attend Virginia Commonwealth University, where he earned a BS in Computer Engineering. It was during this time, that Mangukiya realized students in the U.S. have a much greater opportunity to learn than is available to students in India and other developing nations.

"Having lived in India for a long time, I saw first-hand the problems students face without basic school supplies -- like not having a simple notebook and pencil to do homework with but instead writing on slates using chalk, and then having to prevent it from getting erased before reaching school," Mangukiya told us.  He felt strongly that education should be a right, not a privilege – and wanted to make a difference. 

While visiting a local high school in India, he saw the father of a young girl crying because he desperately wanted his daughter to attend the school, but did not have the $10 needed to pay the yearly fee. A paltry sum to U.S. families, this was unreachable to the Indian family.

"Seeing the father cry made me realize both the immense value $10 was to him and the vast disparities between access to education in India and the U.S," Mangukiya explained.  "This inspired me to establish EduCare with the vision that it would be a socially responsible company that would help students in developing countries, like this man’s child, through funds raised by providing quality and research backed online tutoring to students in the U.S."

Mangukiya’s own parents were never able to attend school in their native India either, but they dreamed of their son being well educated so that he could have a better life, and through hard work, they were able to provide him with a solid education and the opportunity to study in the U.S.  These experiences made Mangukiya realize that something had to be done to make education more accessible to underprivileged youths around the globe, and to continue the dream his parents had for him, for other children across Asia, Africa and Latin America. Driven by this commitment and his revolutionary concept of global education, he founded EduCare and the company’s Global Education Movement.

EduCare hires and recruits teachers and tutors from the United States and Australia, and they have been approved as an NCLB SES provider in several states. They focus on the quality of their teaching staff, and teacher must meet their professional requirements:
  • Teachers must be certified to teach in their home state or must possess a teaching license. 
  • If tutors are not certified teachers then they must possess a bachelor’s degree and at least 2 years of teaching or tutoring experience in their subject area.
  • For college level tutoring, EduCare hires students from different colleges who have completed that particular course with a letter grade of “A.” Along with the grade, EduCare also tests all its tutors for subject matter content by having them pass our prequalification tests.
The tutoring is delivered in the typical online environment.  It does require that students book sessions at least two hours in advance.  One general tutoring session is $14.99 while 10 sessions are $134.99, a margin discount.

Students who register for at least one session have access to the EduCare resource library. Their library consists of Worksheets, Study Guides, online educational games, educational animations, video courses and beta iPad, iPod touch, and iPhone applications which can be downloaded on student devices.

We also asked just how they assist students Asia, Africa and Latin America.  Still in beta mode, they are working on building relationships with non-profits in order to deliver aid.  They promise to deliver 50 pencils for a single session booking, and and a ten session booking ($134.99) pays for a full academic year's tuition.

We decided to see just how much a full year's tuition costs.  Brian House, former Peacecorp volunteer who now runs a grassroots aid organization in Haiti states tuition fees for a primary student run about $20 a year with an additional $30 of associated fees (uniforms, books, supplies).  Secondary school tuition is $30 per year with an additional $45 of fees.  We wanted to know just how they delivered this assistance.

1. How is aid provided to students in need?
With every tutoring session that a student completes, we help educate an underprivileged child in need through our Global Education Movement. We partner with nonprofits working to promote education in some of the most remote communities in the world and donate the resources through them.

2. How do you identify students in need?

Our nonprofit partners identify the students, schools and teachers who are in need. Through them we can provide school supplies to children, learning materials for teachers, and even build a classroom. Our current nonprofit partner is Hope for Haiti, while we are also in the midst of exploring other exciting nonprofit partnerships for 2011 that would target underprivileged children in Asia and Latin America.

3. How much aid is expected to be delivered to students in need during the first year of service?

We expect to change the lives of more than 1,000 students by the end of 2011, by providing them with educational resources like pencils, pens, notebook, textbooks, computers, science lab equipments and resources for teachers in underprivileged areas like books, study guides, and worksheets.

With other 700 students using the service and poised to expand into SES offerings, we wish EduCare the best in their undertakings for the sake of these assisted students.  We look forward to hearing from parents, students or schools who have used their service.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

MasterMind Prep Introduces “Next-Generation” Live Online Tutoring

Students at MasterMind Prep learn in the convenience of home with Live Online Tutoring. They get plenty of personal attention and mastery learning in real time from live tutors using video web conferencing on any computer, tablet or smartphone.

PRLog (Press Release) – May 31, 2011 – MasterMind Prep Learning Solutions has introduced “next-generation” Live Online Tutoring to help students anywhere in the world improve reading, math and SAT prep skills in the comfort of their own home. Students and tutors see, hear and learn together in real time using webcams, headsets and digital writing pads in a virtual classroom on a computer, tablet or smartphone.

“We think personal attention and feedback from a live tutor is critical to the learning process, and students tell us they feel like they are in the same room with the online tutor,” said Doug Haynes, founder and president of MasterMind Prep. “With the rise in gas prices and busyness of life, live online tutoring at home is also very convenient for families.”

Tutors at MasterMind Prep teach in interactive virtual classrooms powered by Cisco® WebEx® so they can share documents or web-based curriculum from their screen, work problems on a digital whiteboard, write or ask students to write on the screen, and get feedback by polling or instant chat. Students can learn on any computer, tablet or smartphone including iPad®, iPhone®, Android® and Blackberry®.

“We have blended the best offline mastery tutoring methods with the latest online learning technology,” Haynes said. “We can teach struggling students as young as kindergarten how to read with phonics individually or in small groups, something most online tutors can’t do. We also teach math and SAT Prep to students of any age.”

Online learning is a rapidly growing trend. Last year, the U.S. Department of Education released a study showing online students perform better than those in traditional classrooms. Harvard’s Clayton Christensen predicts that half of all high school courses will be taken online within a decade. Other research shows that students taught live by video webcam experience the same gains as students taught by offline tutoring.

Other features of MasterMind Prep’s live online tutoring include adaptive online diagnostic assessments to determine individual strengths and weaknesses; structured lessons with research-based curriculum; a learning management system so students can communicate with instructors, practice between sessions and watch recordings of previous lessons; interactive and adaptive learning exercises and more.

MasterMind Prep offers three online tutoring plans: small-group classes of up to five students starting at $27 per hour with a $100 summer discount, private tutoring and self-paced learning. Minimum technology requirements include a high-speed Internet connection, webcam, headset and digital writing tablet (for math students only).

Based in North Carolina, MasterMind Prep has taught thousands of students in schools, homes and other locations since 2002. Now, it has adapted its proven, research-based mastery learning approach to live online tutoring. MasterMind Prep’s students average gains of approximately one grade level in reading or math within 24 hours of instruction.

See video demos of MasterMind Prep’s Live Online Live Online Math Tutoring, Live Online Reading Tutoring and Live Online SAT Prep at, or

For more information about MasterMind Prep and its live online tutoring, contact Carrie Lenzen, director of admissions, or Doug Haynes, president, at 866.294.PREP (7737) or visit

Cisco, WebEx, iPad, iPod, Android and Blackberry are registered trademarks of their respective companies, which are not associated with nor endorse MasterMind Prep.

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About MasterMind Prep: The company provides live online tutoring in reading, math and SAT prep using interactive video web conferencing for students of all ages anywhere in the world (