Tutoring for ALL

A guest post by Chris Durr, Library Programs Consultant, California State Library

Tutors can be expensive, and families are often faced with the challenge of trying to secure the services of a tutor.

In his book, Dream Hoarders, Richard Reeves describes how scarce resources – such as the instructional time of qualified tutors – are often hoarded in America by the wealthy. This system, believed by many to be simply ‘good parenting,’ creates a glass floor for the wealthy and a glass ceiling for the other 99%. As Dr. Mark Bray has pointed out in his work, The Shadow education system: private tutoring and its implications for planners, traditional school education is supplemented, to great effect, by the efforts of private tutors. In some countries, this supplement can be an astronomical cost. In 1996, South Korean families spent the equivalent of $25 billion on private tutors, more than the total budget for the entire government.

Enter California State Library’s new online tutoring program, accessible to all California children in grades K-12. Through this resource, anyone with a computer and internet connection can access a live tutor, speaking in English or Spanish, for support with Language Arts or Mathematics, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Additional topics and languages are available between 10 am and 10 pm. These tutors, 99% of whom have at least a bachelor’s degree, can help walk students through their classwork with a variety of tools and address a large array of needs. This statewide program is a step forward for all California families.

The online tutoring service is authenticated via “geolocation,” meaning that anyone with an IP address inside of California can access a tutor, with or without a library card. This also means that if a user has a library card and has forgotten it, lost the pin, or is not in good standing with the library, they can still use the tutoring service through the same geolocated link. The program is streamlined for learner access, offering as few barriers as possible for a tutor and a student to be able to connect.

In rolling out this exciting new service, the State Library and partners are providing trainings to educators, library workers, and others on “HelpNow,” the surrounding supports and other touchpoints for the service. The training calendar is below. We hope California library staff will join these training opportunities and learn how to help their communities.

Upcoming Trainings

HelpNow: Online Tutoring and K-12 educators (Audience: K-12 Educators)

Learn how the HelpNow tutoring service can be useful for your students and learners. From test prep, to homework help, to flashcard creation, this training offers expert guidance in how to use the HelpNow tools to increase student achievement, all with little to no prep from the educator.

HelpNow: Nuts, Bolts and Troubleshooting User Issues Part 1 (Audience: Library Workers)

You have HelpNow active on your library website, now what? This training will focus on the nuts and bolts of bringing this service to users and will familiarize frontline staff with how HelpNow can meet community needs. This training will also cover common ways to troubleshoot the service if an end user experiences a problem.

HelpNow: Marketing and Outreach Part 1 (Audience: Library Workers)

Brainfuse offers a variety of resources to help your library raise awareness of the HelpNow service. As your library prepares for students to take midterms, finish college applications, and tackle learning over the holiday breaks, this session will help you position your library as a ‘just in time’ service for patrons seeking help with tests, homework, and essays.

HelpNow: Nuts, Bolts and Troubleshooting User Issues Part 2 (Audience: Library Workers)

A refresher from the October 26th training, this training focuses on the nuts and bolts of bringing this service to users, familiarizing frontline staff with what community needs HelpNow can meet so that workers can point staff to ‘just in time’ resources and focus on troubleshooting issues more advanced users may encounter.

HelpNow: Marketing and Outreach Part 2 (Audience: Library Workers)

Essential to the success of this resource is how well your library can raise awareness of this service. Previous trainings will have touched on the promotion of HelpNow, but this training will be a more focused look at the resources and supports your library has for promoting this service to your community, especially relating to testing season for schools.

HelpNow: Test Prep Resources (Audience: K-12 Educators)

HelpNow offers a variety of tools to assist with test preparation. You know about HelpNow’s live tutoring services, but with finals, the California High School Exit Exam and college entrance exams looming, it’s time to learn more about how HelpNow can support test prep. Product experts will provide an overview of sample test preparation materials offered by HelpNow.

HelpNow: Summer Services Pitch (Audience: Library Workers)

As the school year comes to an end, learn how to turn this resource into a meaningful resource for your community during the summer months. From specific marketing materials for summer, to other forms of engagement like chess tutor, to setting and tracking summer learning goals, HelpNow has resources so your library can make this service useful even when children have no homework to complete.

This program is supported with funds provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Librarian.