Uploaded by dodeacomms on 19.04.2011

>> Are you a military student
who needs immediate help with your homework?
Today we'll discover a free help program
for DoD students through tutor.com.
Learn how to access this valuable resource coming
up next in The Chat Room.
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Welcome to The Chat Room,
I'm your host Frank O'Gara.
With me in the studio today is Mr. Bart Epstein,
senior vice president for tutor.com.
Mr. Epstein helps manage DoD's contract with tutor.com
to provide a tutoring program for military families.
Through the program DoD students can get help
from a professional tutor any time they need it for free.
Tutors are online 24/7
and eligible family members can take advantage
of this military family program to get help
with more than 16 subjects.
When he's not helping military families
to discover this resource, Mr. Epstein serves
as a volunteer pilot for Angel Flight providing flights
for sick children, and for NASA testing new airplane avionics.
Welcome Mr. Epstein.
>> Thank you, Frank.
Such a pleasure to be here.
>> It's a pleasure to have you here today and you have
such an interesting background.
>> I like to keep busy.
>> I I can tell that, okay.
I want to to begin today talking about some of the questions
that I have in my mind that I think will be of interest
to our, to our viewers all around the world and let's begin
with the obvious one and that's what is tutor.com
and what can it do for students?
>> Tutur.com is a live, online, one to one homework help
and tutoring service funded by the Department of Defense
for US military families anywhere in the world.
It's a service that allows students to connect instantly
with no appointment to a real tutor for one to one help
on homework, test prep, studying for exams, writing a paper,
science projects and more.
>> Sometimes tutoring conjures up a rather negative connotation
for some students and even for some parents, okay?
So why should kids not be afraid of finding
out more about tutor.com?
Tutor.com is the opposite of traditional tutoring
where a student has fallen so far behind
that they need intervention.
Tutor.com is actually a place where many students come
because they are embarrassed in class, they are hesitant
to speak up and ask questions.
They don't want to look silly in front of their friends.
As I travel around to various mins-
military installations I ask teachers about their students
and what they do when their homework is incomplete
and teachers tell me over and over again
that their students are masters of avoiding eye contact.
They do not come in and raise their hand and say I'd
like everybody to know my homework is incomplete.
I didn't. . .
>> No volunteers.
>> No volunteers.
And what happens all too often is students come
in with their homework incomplete because they're stuck
on one little concept.
They don't raise their hand and they don't master that concept.
Especially in math and science those concepts are cumulative.
. .
>> Um hum.
>> and the next night they struggle even more
with their homework and they start to fall behind and they go
into a shame spiral and they start to say things like,
I'm no good at math which is really heartbreaking
and unnecessary.
>> Sure. So how is it that tutor.com can help students?
>> Well, tutor.com helps students
by providing them real help from a real tutor the moment
that the student needs help and here's how the process works
from the students perspective.
Student logs in and immediately is connected to an expert tutor
who provides them with one to one undivided attention.
The tutor uses whatever problem the student is stuck
on as a teachable moment to explore the concept and work
through it until the student has mastered it.
Students tell us time and time again that one
of the things they love about tutor.com is
that each session is as short or as long as the student wants.
So, if you have 10 minutes until American Idol comes on,
you can connect for a quick refresher on the difference
between an adjective or an adverb.
If the big chemistry exam is tomorrow and you need
to spend several hours reviewing key concepts with the tutors,
you can do that as well.
And in every session we strive to take the student
from being confused to their aha moment, that moment of insight
where the student says something like,
oh I can do this or, that's not so hard.
>> The light bulb moment.
>> The light bulb moment.
>> Okay.
>> And we work very hard to make sure students get to that moment
and we're very pleased to report that 95% of students tell us
in our post session surveys
that they're getting the help they need,
they're mastering the concepts, they're feeling more confident
and they're getting better grades.
>> Now besides students and parents finding out more
about tutor.com and using tutor.com, what about teachers?
How can teachers, because they've got a vested interest
in this as well, use tutor.com?
>> They can use tutor.com to ensure that 100%
of students do their homework every day even
if they don't have someone at home to help them such as
when a parent is deployed.
Tutor.com means no more excuses for incomplete homework.
Teachers can also use tutor.com
to personalize instruction in their classrooms.
Many teachers tell us that when you teach a large group,
you generally have 3 separate groups within your class.
You have a group of students who are struggling,
you have the vast middle and then you have a group
of students who are itching for more challenging work.
With tutor.com, now that all DoD students have the support
of tutor.com, teachers can and should feel free
to assign personalized work for these groups of students
and know that if those students get stuck
or have questions while they're at home in the evening,
they can log on and connect to a tutor instantly to get help.
>> What what do you attribute its success to?
>> More than 6 million times now, a student has come to us
with an academic problem that they need help
and we have taken them from stuck and confused
and frustrated, often when they're at home alone,
and we've brought them to their aha moment.
And we are completely student focused.
I think that is really the key to our success.
We help students the moment they're stuck.
We do it on their terms.
We don't do the work for students
so don't even bother asking for us to do the work, but the kind
of support that we provide is a perfect support
for the unique needs of military kids who are often dealing
with frequent moves, getting to know new teachers,
different curriculums, parents being deployed.
>> I would imagine that a lot of the,
the calls that you get are are are are focused
on the three R's, you know the, the reading, writing
and arithmetic, but what about the more difficult subjects,
the math, the sciences okay, the advanced placement courses?
Do you have folks who can actually help our students
with those as well?
>> Absolutely.
Math and science tend to represent about 80%
of the sessions that we provide help with.
>> Wow, okay.
>> And high level math and science classes,
especially AP advanced placement classes are some
of our most popular subjects and perhaps unexpectedly,
they are some of the courses
in which our student satisfaction ratings are the
highest, 95 to 98%.
And this is because students in those classes show
up with crazy hard questions.
. .
>> Yeah.
>> and they're highly impressed when the tutors are able
to handle them with ease.
And this is no surprise to us.
We have recruited and tested and screened these tutors
and we know that they include folks like the former head
of the American Institute of Physics who is one
of our tutors, and on of our statistics and calculus tutors,
his day job is a Hubble Space Telescope scientist.
>> Wow.
>> These tutors work with us part time because they love it
and it shows in the results that we see.
For example, your teachers especially may be interested
to know that we did a survey of our students
and we asked them how would having tutor.com impact your
possible willingness to take AP courses and an astonishing 86%
of our students say they're more likely to take AP courses
if they have the support of tutor.com and if we are
to meet the presidents goal of graduating twice
as many students from college by 2020, we need students to choose
to take more rigorous courses of study and with tutor.com
for military students they can and are doing so.
>> Absolutely and that's of course a strong focus in our
in our system to get kids to take more rigorous courses
and I think you know at first you would you would think you
you wouldn't think of that, of the students who are
in the the advanced placement courses
as being a large contingent that would take advantage of this
but it seems to be absolutely the way that it's going so.
. .
>> large and growing.
>> Yeah large and growing.
All right so how does the student get set up?
>> Well the good news is, every DoD student is already set up.
To get help from a real tutor anytime they need it,
they simply go to tutor.com, click on the button
that says tutor.com for military families,
select the DoD school's button and log
in using their Gaggle account username.
Their Gaggle account username is something they're probably
familiar with and use frequently at school.
>> At school, surely.
Yeah and we have a, we have a link to tutor.com
on our our website as well and I think that most
of our schools have a direct link as well.
Once they get into, so it's easy for them to get in.
Once they get in, what does the online classroom look like?
>> The online classroom is simple, intuitive and easy
to use for students of all ages.
Our service is available for students in kindergarten
through 12th grade including IB and AP level courses in math,
science, social studies and English
and our online classroom includes a text chat area
at the top of the screen where the students
and the tutors type back and forth.
>> Um hum.
>> It's very much like instant messaging.
Sometimes we think if it was up to the students,
they would do it all by texting.
>> Right.
>> So the students love being able to type back and forth
and then there's a large, shared white board
in the middle of the classroom.
This is where the students
and the tutors can work out problems.
So for example, if the student and tutor are working
on a slope problem, they can bring
out graph paper or draw an X Y axis.
>> Oh that's great.
>> And then work on it together.
And there are abilities for students and tutors
to share their files back and forth.
This is used most commonly for students who are writing papers.
Sometimes they come to us and say,
I need to outline my book report and the tutors will work
with them on their topic sentences
or if they are nearing completion,
they can upload their paper and actually watch in real time
as the tutor highlights and makes comments about areas
that they may want to improve.
>> Now in school students, you know, get to know their teachers
and when they're comfortable with their teachers
or they have a favorite teachers that they may go back to.
. .
>> Um hum.
>> time and time again to get some help,
when they're using tutor.com, how does the program help
to to connect students with tutors that they like?
>> Um hum.
>> Is that possible?
>> Absolutely.
It's a key part of why we have such success helping students.
At the end of every session we give students the opportunity
to rate their tutor and they take advantage of this.
We receive 10's of thousands of comments a month and at the end
of each session, if the student likes the tutor
and they give them a 4 or 5 star rating, our system knows that
and keeps track of it and each time the student logs on
and connects to more and more tutors, it builds a profile
so that after a student has connected 5 or 10 times,
they seem to magically get connected to someone
who is a perfect fit for them.
>> That's great and it's transparent
of course to the student right?
>> A- absolutely.
One thing I also wanted to mention was,
95% satisfaction ratings are pretty incredible in the context
of homework but we strive for 100% and we review every session
where a student isn't happy and your teachers may smile to learn
that the number one reason why students express dissatisfaction
is the tutor refused to do the work for the student.
>> Oh.
>> It's a bedrock principle, we will not do the work
for a student, so if you log in and you draw a circle
and it's inscribed in a square and you have the radius
and you say to the tutor, what's, what's the area?
The tutor will say, do you know the formula
for the area of a square?
>> Um hum.
>> Let's go through it step by step.
And by the way, they're hip to the trick
that you may be thinking of if you're a kid which is logging
in 5 minutes later and typing, hi this is Frank's mom,
I just need to check his work.
. .
>> Check his answer, yeah.
>> What's the answer?
>> Sorry mom, we can't give you the answer either,
but we can teach you how to do the problem
and we actually have 10's of thousands of parents
who use the service themselves either sitting next
to their child working through the problem or they got,
they log on themselves to get help with it
and then they teach it to their child.
>> Well I'm sure that teachers appreciate that approach too
that if you're, if you're just looking for an answer.
. .
>> We're not the place to go.
>> You're not, you're not the place to go okay?
Tutor.com is anonymous okay, so can you explain that to me?
Why is the, why is that important?
>> Anonymity is one of the most loved features of our service.
No one wants to feel stupid in front of their friends and teens
and tweens are very sensitive to being embarrassed
and teachers tell us that many
of their students never ask questions at all and that some
of their students, the only way to engage
with them is to call on them.
And at tutor.com, students can ask any question they want
anonymously and privately.
No one needs to know that a 10th grader forgot what a whole
number is, or that a chemistry student forgot what is the
charge related to an electron, and what we see is
that our tutors are very patient and thorough
and they provide lots of positive reinforcement
and as students use the service regularly,
they start to build their self confidence
such that they are soon ready to go back to class
and ask questions knowing that they're good,
smart, relevant questions.
>> Now today in today's world unfortunately,
resources on the internet are incredibly helpful to students
and parents but there are also some dangers.
>> Um hum.
>> What about the safety and security aspect of tutor.com
to protect kids from some of the dangers that may be out there?
>> 100% of our tutors go through our comprehensive screening
process which includes a third party background check
and educational credentials verification.
And we don't stop there.
In every session, the tutor and student are 100% anonymous
from each other and as I mentioned before,
every session is saved for review not only by students,
but by our quality control team
and by teachers and administrators.
In over 10 years and 6 million sessions,
we've never had a single problem.
>> Bart, teachers, how do they log on to tutor.com?
>> We know that teachers understandably want
to try everything out before even considering recommending it
to their students so we have made it super easy
for every DoDEA teacher and faculty member to log in
and try tutor.com for themselves.
They simply go to www/dodea.
That's www/dodea.
This is a special site just for DoD faculty and administrators
and there's a form there where they can request
that we e-mail a username and password
to their DodEA e-mail address.
>> All right, and we'll put that,
we'll put that URL on the screen too.
. .
>> Okay.
>> for for our teachers.
>> And then they can log in anytime and try it themselves
and one thing I would remind teachers is that it's anonymous.
The the tutors will not know that you are an adult
or teacher unless you tell them.
So I encourage the teachers to either log
in with a real homework problem, the type that they might assign,
or tell the tutor, I'm a teacher can you show me how this works,
and ask for a tour of the classroom
and they'll be glad to do that for you.
>> Bart any final thoughts as we close out the show today?
>> Just that everyone at tutor.com is so honored
and privileged to support your faculty and your students.
We look forward to helping all
of your students achieve everything that they can.
>> Thank you very much for, for being with us and.
. .
>> My pleasure.
>> we look forward to having you back sometime
to talk more about tutor.com okay?
>> Thank you.
>> You can learn more about the tutoring program by going
to the link shown on your screen.
Thank you for joining us on this edition of The Chat Room.
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