Online Tutoring Resources
In the age of Twitter, Instagram, and Vine, it is increasingly hard to engage students with paper resources. Even the test APIE’s high school seniors have to take (the TSI, or Texas Success Initiative) is completely digital and graded by the computer immediately upon completion. This is pushing not only our Classroom Coaches and College Readiness Advocates, but also educational institutions themselves, to become more creative and tech savvy about how they make knowledge available to students.
Universities have reacted to these demands with the creation of MOOCs or massive open online courses. Schools like The University of Texas and Rice University jumped on the MOOC bandwagon fairly early and new schools are signing up every day. APIE is also using MOOC-style resources for its College Readiness tutoring. ChompChomp.com, a website serving up “grammar with attitude,” provides diagnostic testing, lessons, and quizzes over writing skills, but the new staple of most Advocates’ repertoire is Khan Academy.
In 2004, Salman Khan — who had degrees in math, electrical engineering, computer science, and business — began tutoring his cousin living in Bangladesh over the Internet. The lessons were so successful that his other family members also requested tutoring. To accommodate the increasing demand, he moved his lessons from Yahoo’s Doodle Notepad to YouTube. But it was not just his relatives who were interested in his videos; people from all over were watching them. So Khan quit his job and started the website and non-profit organization Khan Academy.
Khan Academy offers diagnostic testing, instructional videos, practice problems, and assessments over a variety of subjects including math, biology, physics, chemistry, finance, computer science, history, logic, and grammar. The math lessons are totally free and incredibly thorough, ranging from the most basic math to calculus. Students are motivated to master skills through a badge system that rewards hard work and improvement. Teachers, parents, and “coaches” can sign up and track students’ progress.
As new technologies become available, communication and education must evolve. APIE and its tutors and mentors are constantly looking for new ways to connect with students and boost their performance. Khan Academy — and the many other websites, MOOCs, and online resources cropping up each day — are one way we can engage students who are more accustomed to Kindle and YouTube than textbooks and projectors.
Amanda Mills, College Readiness Advocate