Transition from Real-Time to Virtual


In recent months, SIS’ National Honor Society (NHS), a high school community service club that admits students based on their academic performance and leadership, has begun experimenting with video tutorials as a means of tutoring underclassmen. In addition to other forms of community service, one of the NHS’ main contributions to the high school is its tutors, who provide essential, occasional assistance to students in need of additional help understanding tough concepts in a certain subject.

“I felt the NHS tutoring program was helpful for a number of students last year,” said Mindi Harman, high school math teacher. “The two tutors I can remember had strong, personal connections with the students struggling in class, and it was great to see that these sessions had a positive effect on their performance, even if I was not the one who provided the assistance.”

Although face-to-face tutoring sessions have been successful, according to Aidan Kim (10) and Calvin Lee (10), students who receive help from NHS tutors, the club sought to combat some problems with such meetings. Students who feel a certain class is too difficult to manage have to approach their teachers to request for a tutor, which is difficult for some, for their pride is on the line. A member of the NHS then schedules meetings with the student, during which to address his or her concerns; setting a specific time when both individuals are free is often a difficult task, according to Calvin.

“All in all, as the success of face-to-face meetings is dependent on a number of factors, a video tutorial is a viable alternative to this mode of instruction,” said Diane Lee (12), an executive of the NHS. “Students will now fill out a form, on which they can ask the tutor to focus on specific concepts or ways to approach an assessment. To the NHS, this is an innovative solution to previous problems pertaining to scheduling one-on-one appointments; these videos will be open to all students and touch upon various aspects of a course.”

Some NHS video tutorials have already been integrated into a classroom setting. A high school world history teacher, Michael Silber, has utilized some of these student-provided resources to enhance his teaching. He places them on his website for all of his students to reference as they prepare for in-class activities and assessments. Although he recognizes the inherent and irreplaceable value of face-to-face tutoring sessions, he believes video tutorials, made by students who were successful in his class, can be used in tandem with regular meetings.

“At best, an NHS tutor is often able to meet with only two or three students—only once or twice a week,” Mr. Silber said. “Quantitatively, the advantage of using these videos is reaching more students struggling with the content with potential tips and suggestions. These video tutorials have also enabled me to appeal to students of varying skill levels and emphasize important concepts. After a few classes, if people still do not understand certain ideas, I now tell them to check out the videos online and ask me questions afterwards, instead of pointlessly repeating information. Hence, these tools have facilitated a better use of time, and it definitely has value.”