Bristol Families – We need you!

Exciting news! We are three weeks away from launching Tutorhub, a new internet-based educational service, and we’re now looking for families with children in years 7-12 to take part in a trial of the service.

For the kids, Tutorhub combines the one-one attention of a home tutor with the speed and convenience of just looking it up on the internet. To start with, we’re focusing on maths tutoring, but we’ll be adding further subjects as we go.

What’s in it for you? Well, the bottom line is that for the pilot period of two months, your children will have immediate access to a whole bunch of maths tutors, for free. In a nutshell, they post their tricky question on Tutorhub, it’s picked up by one of our tutors who can best answer it and they can start a ‘chat’ session’ to get the problem solved. Once solved, the session ends and you can rate the tutor on how well they answered the question.

For your peace of mind, all of the tutors are CRB checked and all the sessions are recorded for review later. The kids will find the technology very familiar and it means you don’t have to answer those tricky questions they got for homework that night.

What do we want out of it? We want you to try it out and let us know what the kids think and hat you think. At the end, we’ll have three questions for you: what did you like about it, what did you dislike about it and what would you do differently.

Online Tutoring

Beanbag was set-up back in 2007 to assist parents / guardians in finding face to face tutors for their children. Why – because as parents we struggled to find tutors for our children, and because we believe that this is an area where new technology solutions to old problems can make a real and lasting difference.

Our objective was always to increase the accessibility of tutoring, and as a technology business we have been thinking long and hard about other ways in which we could make this happen.

The problem as we see it, is that it’s not always possible to find a tutor when you need one, particularly if you live in geographically remote areas for example. It can also be a problem finding one to one support when your child needs help with an assignment or piece of homework. Formal tutoring arrangements whilst valuable are not always the answer. Online tutoring could provide a more cost effective way of tutoring, or provide that bit of supplementary support just when it’s required.

Yes there are alternatives. You can join a study programme online, e.g. themathsfactor.com, but this will not necessarily address the specific problems your children have when they need one to one support. Individual tutors sometimes offer skype (internet phone-call) based tutoring as well, but how do you know that they are who they say they are, and how does the tutor get paid?

Some of you may recall that Tutorvista.com entered the UK market in 2007, with a technology based offer providing unlimited online tutoring support by tutors based in India, but for a number of reasons this did not take off here. Why? Based on feedback from my children who used the service, there were dialect, and technology problems, this combined with low customer service levels made it unattractive to us. In spite of these issues, online tutoring is we believe a good idea, all you have to do is to see the number of online tutoring services in the USA, such as Tutor.com to understand the potential of online tutoring to address a wide variety of learning needs.

My belief is that online tutoring would be attractive to parents in the UK, if it were delivered properly, using technology that children prefer combined with professional customer service. What if we could provide online tutoring direct to parents, using the large number of CRB / ISA checked tutors that we already have listed on Beanbag? Would this be a winner – I think so.

Watch this space.