California Virtual Campus
In 2001, 2002 and 2003, the California Virtual Campus funded Virtual Classrooms to conduct
a series of pilot programs using online tutors working with online study groups.
The Bay Area Region of the CVC funded the following programs:
San Jose City College [Physics]
College of Marin [Statistics]
De Anza College [Statistics and C Programming]
The Los Angeles Region of the CVC funded the following programs:
Riverside College [Intermediate Alegbra and College Algebra]
Feedback from students on these programs is available from our testimonials page:
Basic Learning Model:
In the model we have used in our pilot programs supported by the California Virtual
Campus, the tutors work in collaboration with the instructor of the class. They follow
his/her direction in study techniques and report back to him/her on the results of the
The instructor assigns online study group sessions as part of the course activities
or gives extra credit for them. The tutors manage the enrollment of the students in the
sessions, lead the sessions, report back to the instructor and assign grades to the
students based on how much they contributed to the session.
In this model, the online study groups form part of the course design, and because
of the close relationship with the class tutor, the instructor can utilize them as an
important factor in the instruction process.
Basic Financial Model:
Virtual Classrooms online group tutoring service is a low cost way of providing help
for students. In most cases, the cost is only $12 per hour, which for a group of four
students, amortizes to $3.00 per hour per student.
The cost can be further reduced by training tutors in the college tutoring center
in these techniques and by training students to work together effectively without a tutor.
Once these support services are set up, and students have effective ways to get
help from tutors and from each other, they are no longer so dependent on direct help
in class from their instructor. The administration can then justify larger classes and more online classes, thus lowering the cost of instruction.
Turtle Mountain Community College, North Dakota
In the fall of 2001, the Turtle Mountain Community College funded an online tutoring program using Virtual Classrooms' tutors to assist eighth grade math students at Belcourt Middle School in Belcourt North Dakota.
The program was very popular with the students, and the class teacher, Pat Heggan reported that this program was the best use of technology the school had ever encountered.
R&D: Personalized, Knowledge-Driven eLearning Environment
Virtual Classrooms is partnering with Taxonomize, a new artificial-intelligence company, in its development of a "Personal-Knowledge-Management eLearning System", under an NSF grant. This new eLearning system provides advanced support in supplying information and instructional help to students, right when they need it. It does this by anticipating the individualized needs of students for knowledge and human resources, so that the right help is available in-place and at the right time.
Virtual Classrooms is helping Taxonomize to evaluate the "PerK" eLearning system and expects to field a fully functional system in late 2003. Demos of Taxonomize's knowledge-aid tool are available. Contact Bob London at Taxonomize or Ray Kronquist at Virtual Classrooms.
Courses Covered and Other Projects
The range of the subjects we can tutor covers math, physics, biology and chemistry, all up to the graduate level. Additional courses will be added in the future.
We have also led individual sessions for students who just needed some help with the
course material or wanted to get a deeper knowledge of the subject.
Individual sessions were with students from Harvard University, Los Altos High School,
Mt. View High School, Mt. Hamilton Elementary School and Allan Hancock College in
algebra, calculus, geometry, physics, biology, chemistry and economics.
Partnership with Campus Tutoring Centers
Virtual Classrooms' tutors can also work with the tutoring staff in college tutoring
centers to train them in the use of various Internet conferencing software packages and
in the management of online study groups with multiple students. This format is much more
cost effective than individual one-on-one tutoring, and the students learn valuable
computer, Internet and teamwork skills that are valuable in the workplace.
You could take a look at some student's
testimonials and learn how online tutoring
worked for them.