Tips that A+ students use to get ahead…
Like many we were surprised to see that TeachStreet had shut down.
Luckily, there are a number of great alternatives out there.
If you are a teacher or service provider you may want to try signing up for UniversityTutor.com.
It’s free to create a profile there and there aren’t any transaction fees. In fact, you can set your own price and keep 100% of it by dealing directly with the student.
If you’re coming over from TeachStreet, feel free to leave us a comment below on how we can make UniversityTutor your new home.
I had an interesting chat today with San Kim from ShowMe.com.
They’ve created an iPad app which lets people record their own lessons (think KhanAcademy but with thousands of Khans). They’ve started to build up a library of content from teachers around the world.
Education seems to be moving more and more online, and tools like this will make it easier than ever for people to create lessons. If you have an interest in recording some of your lessons so that multiple people can benefit from them, give it a try.
The iPad is versatile enough that it’s opening up all sorts of new applications that previously would have required a dedicated piece of hardware. Maybe even one-on-one tutoring will move to the iPad in the near future.
What do you think?
“The tutor never responded” is probably the number one complaint we hear from students and parents that use UniversityTutor – and it’s something we’d love to fix.
I decided to write a quick blog post today to discuss some of the reasons this might be happening (as much our own fault as anyone else – this is not to pass blame, but to learn) and to solicit some feedback from you on how we might fix it.
First off, there are a number of reasons why a tutor may not respond to job request:
It might seem like the above reasons would be pretty rare, but at times up to 40% of job requests going through the site go unanswered. This makes for a bad experience with students and parents so it is something we’re very interested in getting fixed.
We try to combat this problem today with our review system. When clients go to rate a tutor, one of the options they can choose is “The tutor never responded”. When a client selects this we temporarily take the tutor’s profile down and fire off an email to the tutor asking if they are still available. If they are, they can turn their profile back on with a few clicks – but this quick check makes sure they are still available.
This doesn’t seem to be solving the problem entirely though, and I’d like to get some feedback on what else we can do.
I’ve posted a few ideas below, but please leave others in the comments below if you have any insight into why this might be happening.
What do you think would work best? If you’re a tutor, are you receiving the notification emails or have you ever had a reason not to respond to a job request?
Please leave us a comment below. Thank you!
Posted by: Brian Armstrong in: Math Homework Help
I ran across this little flash widget which gives a great perspective on trigonometry:
Just playing with it helped me understand trig at a deeper level, and it didn’t even require any words.
A handful of companies are working on bringing textbooks to the iPad. Wouldn’t it be cool if they were interactive like this?
Like most new technologies, I think the first textbooks on the iPad will resemble their predecessors (paper textbooks). This happened with the first web pages (they were just paper documents published online) and even with the first cars (they resembled horse carriages). But after the first generation, new technologies are able to fully embrace their new medium.
What do you think – how else could textbooks be improved if they were based on the iPad or a tablet device?
Tutor ratings are one of the best features of UniversityTutor – they allow parents and students to quickly go through a large number of tutors and find the ones with the most experience.
However, the rating system was always somewhat basic and just used a simple average of all ratings to sort tutors.
In practice this led to some less-than-optimal results. For example….
To solve this I started investigating smarter ranking algorithms and eventually settled on this Bayesian rating system.
You can check out the details on that page, but the essence of it is that it you can become more confident about the rating when you have more votes. So a tutor with few ratings will have their average rating discounted slightly (toward the site wide average), whereas you don’t need to alter the value as much for a tutor with more votes.
As you can see it leads to better results and fixes the two problems mentioned above.
Hopefully the new rating system gives some better results.
Until next time, happy tutoring!
Posted by: Brian Armstrong in: Online Education
Check out the video below – it has some pretty exciting implications for the future of tutoring, and education in general.
What started as algebra lessons for his cousins has turned into a world-changing project. Hundreds of thousands of users worldwide have benefited from Sal Khan’s friendly, accessible Youtube videos explaining math, science, and other subjects.
Sal has a vision of teaching the entire world, for free. His not-for-profit Khan Academy has the mission of “providing a high quality education to anyone, anywhere.” In this outstanding Gel video, Sal describes the elements of the good experience he’s trying to create.
For the comments below:
What tools (if any) have you seen or used that would work well for online tutoring? What are your thoughts on online education and online classes in general?
I had dinner with Robert Angarita (the founder of Cramster.com) and his wife the other night.
It’s a great alternative or complement to tutoring because instead of meeting an individual tutor one-on-one, you can interact with subject experts in online forums and online study groups. Subject experts (many of them professors) will answer your questions online instead of meeting in person.
The following article appeared on Tim Ferriss’s blog and discusses a simple exercise to learn the basics of speed reading.
Speed reading is very real and can be a huge productivity boost in your homework if you can consume more material in less time.
Here is an excerpt (click the link below to read the entire article):
The PX Project, a single 3-hour cognitive experiment, produced an average increase in reading speed of 386%.
It was tested with speakers of five languages, and even dyslexics were conditioned to read technical material at more than 3,000 words-per-minute (wpm), or 10 pages per minute. One page every 6 seconds. By comparison, the average reading speed in the US is 200-300 wpm (1/2 to 1 page per minute), with the top 1% of the population reading over 400 wpm…
If you understand several basic principles of the human visual system, you can eliminate inefficiencies and increase speed while improving retention.
To perform the exercises in this post and see the results, you will need: a book of 200+ pages that can lay flat when open, a pen, and a timer (a stop watch with alarm or kitchen timer is ideal). You should complete the 20 minutes of exercises in one session.
First, several definitions and distinctions specific to the reading process:
A) Synopsis: You must minimize the number and duration of fixations per line to increase speed.
You do not read in a straight line, but rather in a sequence of saccadic movements (jumps). Each of these saccades ends with a fixation, or a temporary snapshot of the text within you focus area (approx. the size of a quarter at 8? from reading surface). Each fixation will last ¼ to ½ seconds in the untrained subject. To demonstrate this, close one eye, place a fingertip on top of that eyelid, and then slowly scan a straight horizontal line with your other eye-you will feel distinct and separate movements and periods of fixation.
B) Synopsis: You must eliminate regression and back-skipping to increase speed.
The untrained subject engages in regression (conscious rereading) and back-skipping (subconscious rereading via misplacement of fixation) for up to 30% of total reading time.
C) Synopsis: You must use conditioning drills to increase horizontal peripheral vision span and the number of words registered per fixation.
Untrained subjects use central focus but not horizontal peripheral vision span during reading, foregoing up to 50% of their words per fixation (the number of words that can be perceived and “read” in each fixation).
To continue reading the rest of the article you can click here.
If after completing the exercise you’d like to do a more thorough series of exercises over a month’s time, I’d recommend Peter Kump’s Breakthrough Rapid Reading.
I saw great results after going through the book, although one unintended side effect is that I found myself being much worse at proofreading. I’d skim over material faster and completely miss small spelling or punctuation mistakes. After learning to speed read, you’ll really have to force yourself to slow down for proofreading!
Have you tried speed reading? What has been your experience with it?
There is some incredible research into how we remember things that is only recently starting to see the light of day. It’s just starting to leave the laboratory and turn into practical tools that we can use on a day to day basis.
The science behind this is good, and I think it is going to be really helpful as we start to see more innovations like this come to education. The public school system is going to be slow to innovate and adopt new techniques like this, but they can enter the private sector (like tutoring) much quicker.
If you create an account on Smart.fm you can generate study lists for your students (or for yourself) and see the effect right away. Or if you are trying to study something for yourself outside of a classroom there are already hundreds of study lists available on the site (rated by other users).
By the way, this is the same sort of research done by Piotr Wozniak which was covered in Wired magazine recently. I’ve included an excerpt below from the Wired article:
SuperMemo is based on the insight that there is an ideal moment to practice what you’ve learned. Practice too soon and you waste your time. Practice too late and you’ve forgotten the material and have to relearn it. The right time to practice is just at the moment you’re about to forget. Unfortunately, this moment is different for every person and each bit of information. Imagine a pile of thousands of flash cards. Somewhere in this pile are the ones you should be practicing right now. Which are they?
Fortunately, human forgetting follows a pattern. We forget exponentially. A graph of our likelihood of getting the correct answer on a quiz sweeps quickly downward over time and then levels off. This pattern has long been known to cognitive psychology, but it has been difficult to put to practical use. It’s too complex for us to employ with our naked brains.
Twenty years ago, Wozniak realized that computers could easily calculate the moment of forgetting if he could discover the right algorithm. SuperMemo is the result of his research. It predicts the future state of a person’s memory and schedules information reviews at the optimal time. The effect is striking. Users can seal huge quantities of vocabulary into their brains.
You can read the rest of the article here.
What do you think, will this be useful in education? What techniques have you developed on your own to aid in studying the right material at the right time?
I stumbled across this free typing program recently, and it’s the best I’ve seen to date. It’s not a “typing tutor” in the traditional sense of the word, but I think using a piece of software is actually better for this particular subject than using a traditional tutor (more on why below)
It’s called the Online Typing Tutor from TypingWeb.
As you can see it provides a nice diagram while you are typing to help you use the right finger, track your progress, and identify problem areas. It also runs completely in your web browser so there is nothing to install.
If you’re like me you don’t use the full range of fingers for typing and this slows you down. You can imagine the two extremes as being the “hunt-and-peck” method with your two index fingers (the slowest) all the way to using all 10 fingers on the right keys (the fastest). Most of us are somewhere in between and need to get closer to all 10 fingers. This program does a great job of helping you accomplish that. Read the rest of this entry »
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