Connecting continents

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Jason Bewley
Jason Bewley

E-tutoring supplements the charm of traditional teaching environment, says Jason Bewley, president and chief executive officer of Planetutor, an educational services company based in the U.S. Visiting their Coimbatore office, Jason Bewley speaks to Anasuya Menon on the growing market for e-tutoring in the U.S. and the job opportunities it creates in countries such as India.

“The U.S. education system is fast falling behind. With IT having robbed the U.S. parents of their time with their children, they are less focussed on driving their children to work,” Mr. Bewley says. Education in the U.S. is a costly affair. Getting admission to the universities is also becoming increasingly difficult. If the student needs extra coaching, he or she has to pay about $ 25 to $ 150 an hour.

“India has immense potential in providing educational services as it has a number of institutes for higher learning and a qualified English speaking population,” he says. Apart from being price competitive for outsourcing the knowledge process, the Indian system of education is highly regarded in the U.S., he explains.

Though the concept is not very new to India, it has become commercially viable only in the recent years when broadband became accessible to the general public. The availability of resources is high in Coimbatore, he observes.

The software used by the company is interactive and the web camera permits the student and the tutor to see each other. The system is as effective as the conventional method of teaching, Mr. Bewley says. The performance of the students and the tutors is assessed and depending on the feed back, changes are made in the teaching methodology.

Apart from the academic exchange, the teachers and the students develop a bond, thereby facilitating cross-cultural understanding, Mr. Bewley points out.

Tutoring is offered in mathematics, science and English too.

Apart from India, countries in West Asia (which have an English speaking population), Korea and Japan also have a potential in e-tutoring, he says.

The Coimbatore branch of the company is already recruiting tutors and training them in accent and other skills. Though the applicants are sound in academics, their English speaking skills often need to be improved.

The tutors are also given an orientation to the American culture, practices and usages peculiar to the American people.

The company has tied up with 12 schools in the U.S. and about 500 students have signed up for the e-tutoring services. “The schools have identified the students who need additional help.

This helps us design an effective programme for the children,” he says.

According to Mr. Bewley, one of the main reasons for the popularity of the concept is the non-restrictive policies of the U.S. Government.

If schools do not perform to the expectation of the Government, they are willing to providing other options to the students.




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