Mentor across the globe

CHANGING TRENDS

When 12-year-old Abishek failed his math test for the second time, his mother did not worry. In no time she had him signed up with a neighbourhood tutor who was willing to sharpen his skills in his weakest subject.

In India, unlike many other countries, tutoring has always supplemented regular classroom education. Unfortunately, not all children around the world have access to tutors. So what happens to them? They drop out, fail or simply give up. Not anymore! Thanks to rising trends in online tutoring, help is merely a click away.

Students at most British and American universities and schools are fast adapting to  after-study hours with tutors over a thousand miles away in another country. For a small sum of $20 an hour, a student can connect with a tutor through online forums for help.

Indian tutors, who have for long inculcated a sense of discipline with teaching and are fluent in English, are only too keen to join the bandwagon. Shyam Sundar, who has been training to become a professional Math tutor online, is positive that the trend is going to rise over the next few years.

“It’s a fast growing business,” he says, “but becoming an online tutor is a task that is easier said than done.” He goes on to list that the education system varies from country to country and to groom oneself is often difficult. “ With the United States, there are several mathematical terms that are very different from terms used in India and Britain. So it is imperative that I familiarise myself with these terms and their way of learning. Children are encouraged to think for themselves, unlike in India where students often tend to be more disciplined and do as they are told.”

Companies like Brightspark education are only too keen to cash in on a wide pool of Indian talent. “India has a rich heritage in Mathematics, as well as a world-class higher education system. We are able to recruit a broad group of high quality and specialist Maths graduates, who are fluent in English, who we then ensure are well-trained in the UK curriculum and tutoring requirements,” the website claims.  (www.brightsparkeducation.com)

American companies like Quincy Tutoring have widened their options for American students who not only need tutoring services but mentors too. Eric Clark, the brain behind the company, boasts of owning a site that is a “a one-stop shop for multiple online education resources’ (Sfgate.com, 10 May, 2011). His website provides information for students who need help with not just academics but time-management techniques, financial organisation and goal-planning.

Indian tutoring services like Globaltutors and Tutorvista are fast widening their base abroad in the hope of providing services that others might have to shell an inheritance to avail. Back home, the framework is simple. Postgraduates, doctoral candidates and stay-at-home mums who can tutor full-time can earn upto $300-400 a month in India, which is still a lot more than what a regular teacher is paid.

But is it that easy to make your way in the private online tutoring market? The truth is, it’s all about how efficiently you can manage time and resource. Although India has the third highest number of internet users in the world, it still suffers from overhead challenges such as slow internet speed, bad signal, poor back-end service, and comfort is mostly confined to the cities.

Online tutors are faced with the pressing need of finding the perfect setting to have a one-on-one session with a student. Besides a fast internet connection, a whiteboard and clear cut audio-visuals, they also have to be thorough with the kind of students they will be catering to as educational systems differ. Fluency in languages is certainly an added advantage. With a little planning, it is no doubt that you can groom yourself to be a good tutor.

Tip: Scour the internet and counsel students who need tutors through free sessions in the beginning so that you familiarise yourself with the environment and earn the trust of the student.

If you are skilled and looking to sharpening your skills further, teaching on the side could benefit you both monetarily and otherwise. You never know what doors you might open for others and more importantly, for yourself.

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