The Tutoring Revolution Will Not be Televised

A tutoring revolution is already sweeping through powerful collectives online, parts of Asia, and throughout the western world. Education in general is becoming somewhat of a cyborg, where the human and virtual worlds meet. The movement is still in its infancy, but the numbers and trends clearly show a mind boggling amount of room for growth.

The Catalyst

In the ruins and ashes of traditional education systems in places like America, supplemental tutoring is going to be a powerhouse of not only job growth, but a spur in the side of national testing scores. While the costs of university life inflate to high Heaven, the cost of private tutoring is evening out because of high demand. Online tutoring is even less costly, but proving to be just as influential.

Countless teachers are finding out that going online, starting their own tutoring franchise, or just taking on a few students part time, is preferable to the decimated and debt ridden system of the last few generations. Sadly, the overall average hourly rate for classroom educators in the US is $21.97, barely more than 50% of the hourly wage of the average private instructor.

In Asia, the booming of population and westernization has bred fierce drive for tutors, making some of them more famous than American athletes or movie stars. Right now in the east private tutors are making handsome livings that can get as high as $5-$6 million.

The Evolution of the Tutor

  • In America, consumers are spending between $5-$10 billion a year on academic tutoring services and this is trending upwards.
  • The annual rate of increase in spending on tutoring in general is holding steady at +5%.
  • In Asia, particularly places like Singapore, South Korea, and Japan, online tutoring has become a phenomenon as powerful as Hollywood or the India Bollywood Empires.
  • From the industrialized to the modernizing world, spending on tutoring is beginning to rival public sector education systems.
  • One global tutoring market research report estimates that by 2017, tutoring and supplemental education services will break beyond the $100 billion mark.
  • Tutoring is getting more attention than ever because of the fact that after researching 23 nations, both industrial and industrializing, 25% to 90% of students are already receiving some form of supplemental education.

The Trek Towards Virtual Classrooms

Students and parents for a long laundry list of reasons are becoming interested in e-tutoring. It’s cost effective, produces favorable results, and is well received by the younger generations who are already wrapped up in the digital sphere.  (BTW, another trend for better or worse is that we are also about to see a huge “gamification” influence on educational studies, but I’ll save that for another blog.)

It seems easier than ever to get kids interested and involved in virtual classrooms, because they have already connected the digital sphere to nearly all aspects of their lives.

With the Asian model as reference, a similar phenomenon is just beginning to light a spark in America and across Europe. Some say social media streams will be incorporated, mobile technology will play a massive role, and soon there will be a legislative battle between the traditional education system where books can cost hundreds of dollars and ebooks that can cost a couple.

However, like it or not, there will be no stopping a tutoring revolution. It has already gained enough momentum to be an underlying economy that is keeping many afloat.  (Just try to stop someone from teaching guitar lessons in their home or teaching math to their neighbor and making a few bucks. Go ahead, I dare you.)  The tutoring revolution will not be televised, and ironically, with the internet it doesn’t have to be.

Education Going Digital, in More Ways Than One

Those claiming that the American Education system is broken aren’t looking hard enough. It’s not broken, it’s evolving.  It’s molding like water to a punch bowl.  Where universities are offering ebooks, teachers are getting paid online, and innovation is coming from people’s home computers. The dynamic is changing in relation to human progression. One lever of the system can’t be pulled without influencing all others.

For example, the industrialized free market economy based on raw materials is going digital. Where the money goes in America, so also will at least a part of education. Why should students pay huge amounts of interest on loans, when the rich ecommerce venture capitalists they admire say college can be a waste of time? They’re out creating online communities that connect teachers to students and teachers with teachers, sometimes raking in millions.

Deanna Jump and Freelance Education

What happens to teachers when an economy collapses and they find themselves in need?  Apparently, they get crafty, and through fascinating sites like, make decent money on the side. In fact, one extraordinary teacher named Deanna Jump sold her original content teaching guides to hundreds of thousands of people. Why not? Here’s what I find interesting: if one does a search on Amazon for her name…guess what?  They won’t find anything.

Ebooks are going this route as well. They’re condensing from epic novels, to small marketing/branding packages of 10-20 thousand words, and from hundreds of pages to roughly 20-60. Non-fiction ebooks are taking off like a lightning bolt strapped on an outbound meteor.

Laid off teachers, through the 21st century virtual world, are finding that they don’t need to deal with the educational system grappling with fiat currency collapse and social transition. Through solidarity, like farmers markets of the first depression era, people are sharing what they have for reasonable prices without interest, undue fees, greed, or crony capitalism.

Two Ways Teachers are Making Money Online

Teacher to Student

This could be anything from ebooks, to blogging or freelance work. A teacher could compose study guides and sell them on any number of sites that cater to parents of younger kids up through college students. They could get hired by online universities and teach from the comfort of their own home, or hired by individuals and go door to door. In fact, teachers all over the US are not only selling their expertise to students in America, but all over the English speaking world.

Teacher to Teacher

Speaking of which, English teachers are showing teachers in China how to teach English to their students through any number of ways. Through sites like, which has generated over fourteen million dollars in sales/income so far, teachers can empower one another and stay out of the clutches of a generically overregulated system that oftentimes strangles them.

Criticism Coming from the Oligarchs

It seems that this emerging and truly free market digital economic model where teachers aren’t supposed to make decent money is disrupting the status quo. Deanna Jump became a millionaire selling her teaching guides after that same establishment kept her living from paycheck to paycheck. How many teachers’ lives and classrooms did she influence in her spare time?

The top down model is crashing and burning, but as a flower will sprout up through the cracks of a decayed slice of road, human innovation will flourish. Expect to see an ebook by Deanna Jump available on Kindle soon, it’s inevitable. Perhaps a how to guide on making over $700,000 by writing the perfect lesson plan for kindergartners that can be bought all over the world.

She is one of many, a part of entire generations going online to make a living. It’s sad that teachers appear so under-valued in our society, but it’s invigorating and inspiring that they can contribute in new and innovative ways. Hopefully, these kinds of stories will cause a few light bulbs to go off in anyone’s head who has something inside them to teach.

Speaking of that, keep reading this blog.  It’s coming, we promise.  :-)

Clash of the Titans: Online vs Classroom Learning

Welcome, my name is David C. Brake.  I consider myself one of those people who feels like they have lived “many lives.”  I have been a musician, recording artist, entertainer comedian, manager, teacher, business owner, startup founder, husband and father–and a smart-aleck throughout.  However self assessments are always biased, so here are some examples for you to draw your own conclusions:

The Smart-Aleck

At one point in grade school, my math teacher noticed that one of my test scores was not up with the rest of my subjects.  She pulled me aside, and asked what I wanted to be when I grew up.  Although I appreciated that she was concerned, I also knew what she was trying to do.  I told her I wanted to be an astronaut, and she replied that I would need to know a lot of math for that vocation, so I should put forth more effort in my studies moving forward to reach that goal.  I replied that if that was the case, I no longer wish to be an astronaut, and I would appreciate if she could let me know what other occupations were math intensive so that I could make sure to avoid them in the future.  (She called my parents.)

Fast forward to the smart-aleck adult.  Continuing to make my case, below are some self-quotes that I found amusing, but the recipients at the time did not:

“I am considered an expert on most things that I’m not qualified to talk about.”

“If you look around and see you are the only one working for free, reassess the priorities of your co-workers.”

“If you knew what he really thought, he wouldn’t be a politician.”

“If you don’t believe in Jesus, I will kill you.  Does anyone else find this statement ironic?”

And last but not least:

“People who get their degrees while they sit around in their underwear are either really smart, or not worth hiring.”

And it’s this one that I want to talk about.

When I said that, it was in reference to online learning.  Unfortunately, the proponent of online learning to whom I was speaking did not find it amusing, and for some reason his response brought back memories of my “astronaut talk” in grade school.  He came back with, “Is the guy who pays a quarter of a million dollars for his degree smarter than the guy who makes a quarter of a million dollars without one?”  I thought about this.  Was I smarter to avoid something I didn’t enjoy, or would it have been more intelligent to put more time and effort into grade school math?  Everything, including the consequences involved, really depends on the objective.

There was a time in my life when all I wanted was to make a great salary going on stage and playing music for three hours a night.  After actually doing it for a while, that objective changed and I had new goals, but at the time I felt that it would have been foolish to obtain a degree which would not have brought me any closer to that objective.

While I can see arguments (and even agree sometimes) that online learning is alienating or closer to research or that classroom learning kills creativity, I think maybe the battle should be less of a battle and more of a conversation about objectives.  If you throw in all variables, I believe often times it really is what you make of it.  The best classroom teachers don’t stifle creativity with a curriculum, they try to find a way to inspire it (albeit sometimes in spite of the system)—and let’s not forget that in its quintessence, students in a school can also interact and inspire each other to create. Unfortunately, Sir Ken Robinson (see the link above) is also right that too often that quintessence is left unrealized.

As for online learning, while it may not be optimum in some situations, in others it can be very effective—and  in areas where nothing else is available, one could easily argue it is much better than the alternative of having no one to turn to for guidance.  Yes, proponents of online learning will say there are many who have benefitted, and there is no doubt that there are also many who stand to benefit.  Let’s hear what Bill Gates has to say on the subject. (Haha–how’s that for a segue?  I actually agree with much of his argument though, and even though he is selling software, projects like Khan Academy and DotLRN are a brilliant success thanks in no small part to his help.)

Maybe what’s really interesting now at this time in history is the fact that soon online vs classroom learning may not need to be a choice.  Enter Coursera: now you can even take Ivy League classes while you sit around in your underwear—at no cost to you. Interestingly (and not coincidentally), although it is the same coursework given and graded by the same professors, the classes are apparently not accredited.  This is a point of contention raised by some of the students.  (“What do you expect for free?” says the University… “Not much in this country,” says the world traveler…)

The point is that no one method of learning is “better” than another, but rather that learning should be judged by what is most effective and what is available for each individual at any given time.  And that’s where comes in, with an idea that’s been floating around in one form or another as far back as 1971.  At the end of the day, the truth of the matter is that classroom and individual learning do not need to be mutually exclusive any more than online and physical, or instruction and research.  Rather, there will (and should) be more choices available for each and everyone’s needs and applications.  In short, it is what you make of it, and that’s probably something we can all agree on—even if you’re a smart-aleck.