The Web Revolution in Education: How will it affect tutoring?

A revolution in education is under way, many believe. It is so huge that it can be compared to a tsunami; “But in anticipation that the information revolution is coming for colleges, Ivy League colleges are competing to create online classes without the Ivy League price tag and without the Ivy League admission hurdles. In a recent article in the New Yorker, the President of Stanford, John Hennessy said, “There’s a tsunami coming.””

“Daphne Koller, a professor of Computer Science at Stanford University and the co-founder of Coursera, a free online classroom, believes that Hennessy is right. “The tsunami is coming whether we like it or not.” she said. “You can be crushed or you can surf and it is better to surf.”” (The Big Idea That Can Revolutionize Higher Education: ‘MOOC’ – Laura McKenna – The Atlantic)

Coursera has attracted vast numbers of students. Its reach expands exponentially every day. In the Fall quarter, 104,000 students signed up for Stanford’s Machine Learning class. Koller explained that 60 percent of those students seemed be simply curious and did not continue the class. 40,000 students submitted assignments and 20,000 did a substantial amount of work. The grading curve was set relatively high. Only 13,000, or 65%, received certificate of completion rate. Considering that a typical college class serves twenty to thirty students, 13,000 successful students is a considerable feat.”

What does this mean for parents of school age children, and to the children themselves?

As a matter of fact, I tutor more and more students that easily find help for their courses online, and some that take courses hosted online while in high school. Computer literacy is burgeoning for the young at heart. But what about whole courses online without a live teacher or a class schedule? That’s another animal. Few students are autodidacts, those who can discipline themselves to a self imposed schedule of concentration and hard work. Most of us, it seems, need the human touch to maintain a high level of disciplined work. I know I would rather have a professor or teacher to ask questions and to discuss issues. That’s natural and to be expected since we are a social species.

Whether or not a student is learning online or in real classes, tutoring is a personal touch that is sure to stay and grow as online courses grow.