Monday, 24 March 2014

Online tutoring picking up pace in city, rural students enjoy benefits

Six days a week, Satheesh K, a class twelve student from a remote village in Thrissur district, Kerala logs into his laptop and attends Chemistry tuiton lessons from one of the top teachers of the subject located in Chennai. While his two elder brothers had to relocate to Chennai to get access to quality coaching for cracking engineering entrance exams, Satheesh claims he gets the best education while living in his sprawling home with family.

Lalitha at her home in Thiruvanmiyur
“I first discovered about online tutoring when I lived with my parents in Muscat and have been taking classes in Maths and English since then from teachers in India. Now, I am taking classes for all science subjects as my aim is to get into a good engineering college,” says Satish. He is among the thousands of school and college students who no longer run to tuition classes soon after school but log into their computers instead.

A casual search on the Internet for online tutors throws up at least a 100 websites offering the services revealing the starting popularity of this medium of coaching as thousands of websites, including several local ones. While the credibility of some tutors is questionable, some of the best in the business too prefer online tutoring.

Lalitha (64) from Thiruvanmiyur who had a successful career as a Maths teacher, school headmistress, and later as a teaching faculty in a reputed foreign university, has been taking online Math classes for students from across the world for the past two years.

“Presently, I am taking Maths classes for two students from the United States, one from the UK, and a few students from across India,” she says.

The veteran academician who retired a few years ago, logs into her laptop for two to three hours a day and takes one-on-one classes for her students. “I have registered myself as a tutor in a popular tutoring website which provides me students as well as the technology needed,” Lalitha says.

At the scheduled time, she logs into the website and has access to a Whiteboard, just as a classroom blackboard where she writes complex mathematical equations using her mouse. “I can share the Whiteboard with my student who would solve it as I watch. When he or she makes a mistake, I talk to them over the microphone and they respond.”

Site managers of some of the popular tutoring websites claim that in most cases, the tutors can demand the fee that they deem fit for the course. “If the student is from another country, then they charge in US dollars anywhere ranging from US $5 to US $ 20 for an hour’s classes. We take a cut for providing students and the online platform and send the rest of the money to our tutors,” says the site manager of a tutoring website based in the city.

Can one make a living by taking online classes? “It’s possible,” says Lalitha. “If one is willing to spend several hours in front of the computer, they can make a good income. But then, there is nothing like physical tutoring,” she adds.

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