Khan Academy has become the place to go for high school and college students who need a little help getting through math and science classes. But the videos are generic, in the sense that they focus on the concepts, not a particular professor or student.
Two startups graduating from the Intel Education Accelerator last week— Griti and GotIt—think online tutoring can get a little more personal.
Griti is going to individual colleges, finding top students who have completed classes with popular professors, and paying them to create online tutorials tailored to a particular professor’s curriculum and exams. Griti also asks current students to upload completed exams for use in tutorials. The company says it’s up and running at 14 universities so far and has 11,000 users. I questioned whether that gets pushback from professors about the exam upload. The founders say that just 10 percent object, the rest are fine with it so far.
GotIt, meanwhile, thinks a better approach is microtutoring, that is, letting students individually post their math or chemistry problems online (physics is coming soon) and have “study experts” around the world bid to coach them through the problems. The experts bid on problems. A typical winning bid is between 50 cents and one U.S. dollar. Students can also snap a photo of an entire homework sheet, and have it “graded” by GotIt experts. The company says it screens its experts for English fluency and users rate the help they get; higher rated experts can win problems at higher prices. GotIt gives users 24 free questions, and then charges $2.99 for each additional ten minutes of use.
Tekla S. Perry is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Based in Palo Alto, Calif., she's been covering the people, companies, and technology that make Silicon Valley a special place for more than 40 years. An IEEE member, she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Michigan State University.