Resources and References

How To Learn Online



Resources. For a short introduction to the power of knowledge in learning, see this article by Dan Willingham. For a richer take on the same idea, see Dan's wonderful book, Why Students Don't Like School.

While the quality of tutoring varies , high-quality tutoring programs have demonstrated tremendous results. Indeed, there is even a fair amount of evidence that even minimally trained tutors can help students learn. One study found that just community volunteer tutors positively impacted student grades. In short: If you're really struggling, get a tutor, even if they don't really know their subject.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the major online tutoring platforms:

If parents are looking for a tutoring marketplace with requisite background checks, Wyzant is a good option. For tutoring in middle school math, Cignition is a strong option. Learn To Be is a non-profit focused on underserved students, but is still relatively small. 

Many of these platforms are not directed specifically at K-12 subjects, so it will help to do some browsing on any platform you choose to make sure they have what your child needs. — Part of a larger education platform, the Princeton Review. This platform offers student-tutor individual matching, among other services. has relationships with K-12 schools, for on-demand 24/7 tutoring, scheduled tutoring, drop-off essay review, and diagnostic quizzes. Overall, they have roughly ~3,000 experts covering 60 K-12 subjects. — A student-tutor matching service. Wyzant does both in-person and online tutoring, and invests heavily in the online component. Like most other online platforms, they have their own online tutoring software (a white board + streaming video with various bells and whistles; lessons can also be recorded and re-watched.) — Part of a larger education platform, offers both text, audio, and video tutoring, by using an online whiteboard. Although they offer both on-demand and scheduled lessons, their focus is on-demand. The focus is more on high school and undergraduate student tutoring. — A good option for those looking for different tutoring possibilities: several models are available from student-to-tutor matching model (Tutoreye vets the tutors), to support for libraries and homeschooling. As with most platforms, Tutoreye uses an interactive whiteboard, and the ability to record and replay sessions. — Students do the matching by looking at a handful of recommended tutors and picking which tutors to request. Skooli has an interactive white board to facilitate lessons, which notably integrates with the Google suite of Docs, Slides, and Sheets. The emphasis is on safety and security, with a capacity for up to 300,000 students. 

Revolution Prep — Places emphasis on test prep. Small group tutoring available for up to 8 students, but only for test prep. One-on-one tutoring covers test prep and academic subjects for a decent amount of subjects. Individual students can purchase a bulk buy in hours, e.g. 24hrs of tutoring or 36 hours of tutoring. They use a Zoom browser plug-in - unclear what affordances that platform has (beyond screen sharing and video discussion). All tutors are full-time employees. 

Club Z! — For individual students seeking tutors both in-person and online tutoring. Club Z! in-person tutoring franchises exist throughout the U.S. Standard range of academic topics. No specific online tutoring platform, and it wasn’t clear from our analysis what their process is for vetting tutors. — On-demand student-to-tutor matching. Interactive whiteboard available. Scheduling ahead seems possible. Students can stick with tutors they like. Wide variety of academic and professional subjects, plus career counseling, but emphasis is on high school and adult education. No elementary or middle school subjects. — Wide variety of tutoring services: “drop-in” tutoring (when a student needs help immediately), scheduled sessions, space for questions for tutors to address later, and recorded sessions.Part of a larger education platform (Pearson). Tutors are part-time, but most have advanced degrees, and cover a wide range of subjects. 

Cignition — One-on-one online tutoring in math, primarily to middle-school students. Tutoring is available 24/7, with a collaborative workspace for students and tutors during the tutoring session. Student-tutor matches are made after inquiry sent by parents. Access to their math game (Fog Isle) and diagnostic information can help personalize learning. The majority of tutors have Master’s degrees. 

Learn To Be — A non-profit organization focused on tutoring under-served students. Tutors are volunteers and about a quarter of the families using tutoring services pay a small monthly fee. The rest do not have to pay. — Student-tutor matching program for students with learning disabilities. Matching process is based on a consultation. All tutors have at least a B.A. in Special Education. ​

References. I quoted from Daniel T. Willingham, "How Knowledge Helps: It Speeds and Strengthens Reading Comprehension, Learning-and Thinking," American Educator 30, no. 1 (2006): 30. Also see Daisy Christodoulou, Seven Myths about Education (Abingdon, United Kingdom: Routledge, 2014).

For the material science text, I quoted from Betrabet, Hemant S., Otmar H. Boser, Robert H. Kane, Susan McGee, and Thomas Caulfield, United States Patent and Trademark Office, Dispersion Strengthened Lead-Tin Alloy Solder, November 19,1991. And yes, I quoted from a paper from my father: It was an "easter egg," at least for him.

When it comes to speed reading, see Jeffrey M. Zacks,, and Rebecca Treiman. “Sorry, You Can’t Speed Read,” The New York Times, April 15, 2016, (accessed September 30, 2016). I'm also indebted to Robert Pondiscio for the point reading and knowledge.

With regard to advanced organizers, I relied on Robert J. Marzano, The Art and Science of Teaching: A Comprehensive Framework for Effective Instruction., 1st ed. (Alexandria, Va: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development, 2007) and Marzano, Robert J., Debra Pickering, and Jane E. Pollock, Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Alexandria, Va: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development, 2001).

For the details on steak, I relied on Natalie Hardwick, “How to Cook the Perfect Steak,” BBC Good Food , September 14, 2016.

For the section on organizing knowledge, I relied on Arthur C. Graesser and Brent A. Olde, "How Does One Know Whether a Person Understands a Device? The Quality of the Questions the Person Asks when the Device Breaks Down," Journal of Educational Psychology 95, no. 3 (2003): 524. Also see LSAT, “Using Cognitive Load Theory to Improve Logical Reasoning,” Annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, (San Francisco, CA, 2013).

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