Global Data Science Forum

Scott Lee and Gooroo Are Keeping Education Alive Amidst a Global Pandemic

By Tim Stone posted 30 days ago

  


Since the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to switch to remote learning earlier in the year, debate has continued over when it will be safe for students and teachers to return to the classroom. 

Some school districts have already determined that when the school year begins, classes will resume on an online-only basis. Other areas are deliberating whether in-person teaching is possible with masks and social distancing measures. 

For Scott Lee, this is a situation that his company Gooroo has been well prepared for — even if they did not anticipate such a dramatic shift to online learning. Lee’s company already used a tutor matching algorithm to pair students with tutors who would be most suited to their needs. Now with the ever-changing circumstances surrounding COVID-19, Lee is seeing more interest in flexible learning than ever before. 

Adapting to a Virtual-First Sphere 

For many students, the biggest transition has been adapting to a remote, digital learning experience. The same was true of the tutors who operated through Gooroo’s platform. While the company’s vetted tutors would previously meet at student’s homes or other public locations, lockdown measures made that difficult for many. 

As districts tried to end the school year virtually, teachers struggled to maintain order when hosting classroom meetings via Google Meet or Zoom. Many lamented how not all families had access to the necessary technology, causing economically disadvantaged students to fall further behind their peers. 

“Thankfully, we already had online tutoring programs in place,” Lee says. 

“But it quickly became apparent that there was more of a need for online programs that we’d ever experienced in the past. We saw the struggles many were going through and decided that offering free online courses and discounts on online tutoring would be a way we could help more students get access to the help they needed.” 

For Gooroo, an important part of its online courses has been offering classes on subjects that wouldn’t typically be taught in school. Lee hopes that free classes on debate, ballet, and programming can help students become more engaged with the learning process in general and develop skills that apply to other subjects as well. 

The Need for Individualized Education 

“Understandably, the biggest concern many parents have had as their kids have transitioned to remote learning is whether they are still getting a quality education,” Lee notes. “In many situations, that is unfortunately not the case. We’ve seen how many school districts simply weren’t prepared for such a dramatic change, and the kids suffered for it.” 

The need for quality education has long been a concern for Lee and his team, which is why a big part of Gooroo’s matching algorithm was designed to pair students and tutors based on individual learning styles. 

“Now more than ever, kids need an education that is tailored to them,” Lee says. 

“A discovery learner who prefers to experiment is going to have vastly different needs than a student who prefers learning through stories or case studies. As virtual classes have struggled to address these needs digitally, we’ve seen the work of our tutors become even more invaluable.” 

Each student has different strengths and weaknesses. Having an available tutor who can provide assistance with the topics a child might be struggling with can help ensure that they won’t fall behind, even if the adjusted classroom experience isn’t meeting expectations. 

The Value of Hybrid Learning Environments 

COVID-19 has shed further light on the need for more flexible learning opportunities. 

A notable example of this is how many school districts (and universities) are planning to adopt a form of hybrid instruction in the fall with a mixture of in-person and online classes. Many hope that such an approach would facilitate transitioning to all-online or all-in-person classes as needed, based on community spread and other factors. 

However, according to a recent survey from RealClear Education, 40.8 percent of parents said they would be more likely to homeschool their children or use a virtual school or neighborhood co-op after lockdown measures ended. 

“We’ve seen a lot of parents who want more involvement in their child’s learning experience,” Lee says. “A growing need for vetted tutors is a big part of this change. Regardless of a child’s primary learning experience, having this extra resource available can make a big difference in ensuring they receive a quality education.” 

As part of this flexible mindset, Gooroo’s program allows students to use their hours with several different tutors, or roll over unused hours from month to month. This ensures that students get the help they need, when they need it. 

Hope for the Future 

As complicated and daunting as the current educational environment may seem, Lee expresses optimism for the future of education on a global scale. 

“Transitioning to alternative methods of teaching and learning definitely comes with its fair share of challenges,” he admits. “But I think this has given many people a crash course in what options are available outside the traditional classroom setting. For students who need more individualized attention, these changes can ultimately help make education more inclusive and rewarding.”


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