Online Tutoring: The Learn-by-Helping Model
Today's guest blog post is written by JJ Echaniz. JJ is currently a sophomore at Yale University where he is majoring in both Economics and Political Science. JJ is a co-founder of Forward Tutoring, an organization that provides free, one-on-one tutoring to students online through an interactive tutoring platform. JJ hopes to continue using his perspective as a student in an effort to leverage technology in education.
Teaching is the ultimate manifestation of learning. As a sophomore in college, I know I’m truly prepared for an exam (and finally ready to sleep) when I can teach the material to my roommate. As I explain an economics concept to David, my suitemate, I not only help him but I also deepen my own understanding. A true win-win.
This fundamental idea—learning by helping—formed a major component of Forward Tutoring, an organization I began with friends during high school. Forward Tutoring provides online, one-on-one tutoring to students—absolutely free. Instead of paying for the service, students pay forward their tutoring by volunteering in their communities. In fact, each hour a student volunteers translates into an equivalently valued credit for tutoring.
As we began to develop the concept, we seemed to overlook our biggest asset—our age. We were high school students developing a program for students in high school, too. As students, we knew how students approached problems, we knew what teaching styles worked, and we knew how to sense confusion from our peers. It only seemed natural to place academically talented students at the center as tutors—the learning-by-helping model took shape.
Students actually learn exceptionally well from their peers. Why? As I mentioned earlier, student tutors can empathize with the tutored students. More interestingly, tutored students feel the tutoring session is a collaborative effort. Together, the tutor and student work though questions and concepts with the tutor ready to provide suggestions if the student is stumped. We find that students are more comfortable with peers and engage as if the problem at hand were a team effort.
This collaborative learning approach is not a new one. However, organizations like Forward Tutoring and CK-12 are able to take the experience beyond the walls of a classroom or the tables of a coffee shop. CK-12 just launched an awesome Q&A feature that allows students to ask questions and get answers from their teachers and peers any time of the day. The tool allows collaboration and homework help in an all new way.
To use CK-12 Q&A, simply create an account or log into your CK-12 account, choose a class group and ask away! You can find a detailed tutorial for using Q&A here.
Both Forward Tutoring and CK-12 have taken its potential online and students can now access our resources and platforms from school or from home, on a computer or on a tablet. We realize education is dynamic and mobile, so we’ve responded with solutions that tap the best technologies and remove the boundaries of education.
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