It is 4:15 am in India. Or rather, "Expect 15" for Sujatha Nataraj in TutorVista.com's lingo. In 15 more minutes, Nataraj, an English teacher who lives in the mining township of Neyveli in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, will say hello to her first student for the day. At Expect 30 (that's 4.30 am for the rest of us) she will greet her student and wait for another ten minutes within which the student will respond. Her student could be from anywhere in the world - US, Canada, UK or Korea.
Her student for the day is Gaurav, a 6th grader who lives in California in the United States. By 4:30am, while Nataraj has been preparing for the lesson, Gaurav has returned from school and is ready to take the lesson he has requested for.
TutorVista.com's technology platform connects students and teachers together even though each group may live in opposite parts of the world.
TutorVista.com's technology platform connects them together across opposite parts of the world. They talk to each other using VOIP - an internet telephony facility and simultaneously share a whiteboard - both write and doodle on this common screen...In addition, Nataraj can access Gaurav's school syllabus on the TutorVista platform.
Gaurav's mother, Lalitha Murali, is extremely happy with the engagement. "His English grades have improved drastically and are now in the nineties" she says. " I must have spent over $6,000 on tutoring previously, in addition to driving him all over town. Then I read about TutorVista.com and bought a new computer and this works just fine," says his mother.
TutorVista.com's platform connects highly qualified teachers in small towns across India with students across continents who want personal help. It turned tutoring economics around in its markets. Lalitha pays TutorVista.com just $99 a month for unlimited tutoring which involves personal attention from highly qualified teachers of his choice, from the comfort of his own room. This compares highly favourably with the hourly fee of $40 which Lalitha paid at Sylvan Learning for a tutor who would take 3 or 4 students together and involves her drive Gaurav to and from the center.
Nataraj too, benefits. She can concentrate on one student at a time and is paid at least Rs 75 (around US$2) an hour. The rate goes up as her skill level goes up and the arrangement gives her leeway for her daily household chores. "Everyday is different" she says over the phone excitedly. Ubiquitous, reliable communication networks combined with applications such as TutorVista.com's create experiences like these for 650 tutors, most of them in India, and 20,000 students across the world.
To ensure that tutors understand the platform and exploit its features, TutorVista.com continuously rolls out training programs for its tutors on the platform, subject and accents.
For many teachers, TutorVista.com opens up a whole new way of working. This, for thousands of students, is also a whole new way of winning the academic race.
The power of the network keeps things simple and training costs low. All training is done online on the Webex platform while group chats and buddy lists let them compare notes and exchange ideas with other tutors from their batch. "I have friends in Erode and Delhi now" says Nataraj.
Employment for physically-challenged tutors is only one of the many benefits of the network, according to K Ganesh, CEO, TutorVista.com. It really is a whole new way of living and working.