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Skype

About Skype Tutoring

What is Skype? Skype is a free program that people can use to communicate with one another face to face over the internet.  The program allows for a simulated experience of in person tutoring for people that live hundreds or even thousands of miles apart.  The advantage of using this program is that students can receive quality tutoring without having to leave the comfort of their own home. What do I need to run Skype? Skype is a computer program that can be run on your desktop, laptop, camera or smartphone.  The program can be downloaded for almost any operating system (Windows, Apple, Android, Linux, ect.). You need access to high speed internet (cable or DSL).  If you don’t have this in your home, you don’t have to worry.  It can be very easy to find these days.  Most libraries, universities, schools and coffee shops have high speed, Wi-Fi readily accessible to their patrons, students and customers.  You can even get free Wi-Fi internet at your local McDonalds!  Students that I’m tutoring should also own a web camera, so that I can see then during the tutoring sessions.  Having a web cam makes the simulated more realistic and effective.  It also helps me the tutor, because at times I like to ask me students to hold up their work to the camera so that I may give them some suggestions.   Don’t know if you can afford a webcam?  No worries.  They are very affordable.  On this page I offer a link to a site where a quality webcam can be purchased for $19.99.  You can likely find webcams for even cheaper than this if you look around. How do I get started with Skype? Skype can be downloaded and installed for free if you follow the link below.  After the program is installed, the program will ask you to create a basic profile, which again is free.  This profile can be used to make free video conference calls with anyone in the world. Then you can add me to friends list by sending a friend request to: jacob.brunsold http://www.skype.com/en/download-skype/skype-for- computer/ – A link to download the latest version of Skype for any device or operating system. Are there any alternatives to Skype? Skype was a pretty unique program a few years ago.  But there have been a lot of start-up programs over the last few years that essentially offer the same services as Skype.  These programs include but are not limited to: Google Hangouts, Paltalk, Jitsi, VoxOx, Goober, Ekiga and ooVoo. Some may even say that these programs work better than Skype.  I personally don’t have any problem with Skype, but am more than willing to accommodate one of my customers, if they would rather use a different program to video chat. How well does it work to get tutoring over the internet? I have gotten this question a lot since I started Vadnais Heights Tutoring Services.  The answer is that it works surprisingly well.  I’ve been able to use my tutoring experience and a wide array of new technologies to develop effective methods for tutoring over the internet.  These methods have allowed me to effectively simulate in person tutoring.  What methods are used to make the online tutoring experience more personal? When I first started tutoring online, the biggest challenge for me was to get around the barriers of tutoring over the internet that weren’t there when I tutored in person.  For example, “A student that I’m tutoring in person asks me a question.  The answer is complicated, so I can’t just explain it.  I have to write out equations, draw diagrams and physically point the student to certain formulas, so that the student understands the process of how to solve the problem.”  I really struggled at tutoring online in the beginning, because I couldn’t figure out a way to do these things over the internet.  But now, I have technologically equipped myself, so that I can provide a better learning experience for my students.  I do it with a wide variety of programs that I will now introduce below: Skype Premium: I said before that the basic features of Skype are totally free.  But I have purchased a Skype Premium account, so that I have access to certain features that make my tutoring much more effective.  Namely purchasing Skype Premium has allowed me to share my screen with my students.  This feature when used in tandem with some of the programs listed below completely eliminates the barrier of not being able to write out equations or draw diagrams for my students during the tutoring session. Math Type: When sharing my screen, the program that I go to the most often is Math Type.  Math Type is a program made specifically writing out mathematical equations and formulas.  I also use it to write out chemical formulas and equations when I’m tutoring chemistry.  It presents the formulas in a very readable format so that students can see exactly how the formula or equation is written.  It looks much better than writing out the formula in a word processor. Take the point-slope formula for example.  Written in a word processor it looks like this: y=(x-x1)((y1-y2)/(x1- x2))+y1 Written out in Math Type it looks like this: The second formula is clearer and easier for students to understand, because of the formatting.
Bamboo Dock: The Bamboo Dock is a program that came with my Wacom Bamboo Craft Tablet.  I use this little gadget for drawing figures and graphs for my students.  The advantage of having this device is that it lets me draw structures with a pencil like stylus instead of a mouse.  This lets me draw accurate to-scale figures, so that students can see what I’m drawing. Note, I’m actually a pretty decent artist, but this device is a life saver, because trying to draw clear pictures with a mouse is very difficult. Whiteboard: Whiteboard is an interactive online program that has been a great asset to me in the past.  The program sets up a page that can be used like a blank whiteboard. In other words, I can draw on it and students can see what I draw if I share the link with them.  What’s cool about this program is that the student can draw on the page at the same time. This way we can both draw on the figure, which can be very useful for solving problems.  I can have the student draw a figure, then I can critique or edit it.  This allows me to visually show the student where they are making the mistake. Wolfram Alpha Premium: Wolfram alpha is a free online program that is used to solve math problems.  It’s a very powerful tool for students and teachers alike.  I recommend all my students give it a try.  I have purchased a version of this program that gives me access to certain features that are not available to regular users.  Basically, I have access to more computational power and solutions than a basic user.  This can be very handy when solving more difficult problems, because my version can be used to both solve the problem and display a step by step solution for the problem. So by signing up for tutoring with Vadnais Heights Tutoring Services, you gain access to these awesome features without having to purchase a premium account with Wolfram Alpha. When you decide to go with tutoring through Vadnais Heights Tutoring Services 1. Fill out the form on the contact information page. Be as detailed as possible in your description of what you or your student needs help with. (put a link to the contact page here) 2. Sign-up for a Skype account if you haven’t already.  Then send me a friend request on Skype. Again my Skype ID is:  jacob.brunsvold 3. Next, you need to sign-up for a tutoring session on the scheduling page. To do this you simply click on the scheduling tab and sign-up for a time slot that works for your schedule.  Fill in that slot with your name or the name of the student who needs tutoring and a brief description of what your tutoring needs are (i.e. the subject that you want help with and what topics you are struggling with). You should also include your email address and Skype ID in the brief description.
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