Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Software : Online Software

Spring 2008 Online Software
Ages: 10 - 18 yrs.
Price: $29.99
Platform: Windows/MAC

Online tutoring isn't new, but technological advances in home computers are making it easier and more useful than ever. has been honing its services since 1998 and has created a top-notch, one-on-one, on-demand, tutoring experience for students who need help with their schoolwork. connects students immediately and in real time, 24/7, to professional tutors based in the United States and Canada. No wait. No need to request ahead of time. And it's environmentally friendly since the tutor doesn’t use gas driving to you house!

The company says its 2,500-or-so tutors are teachers, grad students, retired professionals and others qualified in specific subject areas. All of them go through an online certification process and, for safety purposes, must pass a background check before actually tutoring anyone. For added safety, all tutoring sessions are anonymous-meaning the tutor works with your child on a first-name basis only, and other than grade level knows no other personal info.

Once on the site, the interface is easy to figure out. After you create an account, the student signs in and identifies grade-level (grades 4-12) and subject (such as English, social science, math, science, writing/composition). A chat-line window opens-sort of like text messaging or instant messaging-where the student keys in clippie questions and responses, then hits the send button and waits momentarily for a reply. There's also a "whiteboard" on which students scribble their math problems using the mouse.

When my seventh-grade son signed on to go over a particularly vexing algebra problem, the tutor identified herself as Allison H.

Our 12 year old wrote the equation on the whiteboard and typed his question on the chat line space: "Can you tell me how to go about solving this?"

Initially Allison didn't see the whiteboard equation on her end, causing a little confusion. But then she found it asked what the instructions were. He wrote back: "Simplify it."

Allison: "Do you have any ideas on how we start?"

He: "Yes, try to find the common denominator."

Allison: "Great idea! What would the common denominator be for "c-d and c+d"?

Don Oldenburg   ©2008 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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