Phil Leigh of Inside Digital Media has an interesting podcast with Dr. John Stuppy president of TutorVista, a one-on-one virtual tutoring service. TutorVista turns the tutoring model on its ear, most students will subscribe for $100 per month and have unlimited access to tutors to help them with a range of subjects. These students would largely be either high school or college students looking for help in a given subject or subjects.
TutorVista tutors are full-time employees that are globally dispersed, have advanced degrees and use a virtual whiteboard application (it's WebEx) and VoIP to interact one-on-one with students. TutorVista has an advantage over traditional tutoring companies in that the company doesn't have to be concerned about scaling physical infrastructure, i.e. classrooms, with demand.
I find the higher ed test preparation and tutoring offering particularly interesting: TutorVista offers low-cost SAT, LSAT and GMAT test prep course while delivering a one-on-one tutoring experience. A thirty-hour one-on-one tutoring class costs $450. Sessions can happen anywhere with an Internet connection and proceeds at the student's pace, identifying and focusing on the student's area of need.
A little over a year ago my wife took a six-week GMAT prep course from one of the standard test prep companies that cost $1,200. The class included about 36 hours of class time with about a dozen students. She spent about an hour and half commuting to and from the 3 hour class. While she liked the instructor and found the course helpful, the class' structure focused on instruction and lecture with some one-on-one tutoring.
Which of those sounds more appealing?
The interview runs a little under 20 minutes and has good details on the business model as well as details technical details on how the company structures scheduling, sessions and interaction. The New York Times also has an article on the roll India plays in the globalization of consumer services, the story also mentions TutorVista.