The process of searching for tuition teachers is taking on a new form in the 21st century, writes TAN EE-LYN.
WITH MODERN technological advances gradually pervading almost all aspects of our lives, it is only a matter of time before technology catches up with different areas in the education sector and starts playing a bigger role.
Introducing Tuitionhamster – an online tuition site that provides “matchmaking” services for students, parents and teachers.
The concept of using a search engine to search for tuition teachers has already taken off in the United Kingdom, and thanks to three individuals, is about to make its impact in Malaysia.
Timothy Tiah Ewe Tiam, 21, Edward Boey, 22 and Wilson Quah Jing Qi, 21 are the Internet entrepreneurs responsible for introducing this system of meeting tuition needs to IT users in Malaysia at no charge.
“In the UK, such services impose a fee on users but at our wesite, the services are provided free of charge,” explains Boey who is awaiting his convocation in April and currently working as an IT programmer.
Through the search engine, students can look for tutors in their neighbourhood who can provide tuition in the subjects they require. Similarly, tuition teachers can search for students as well.
”As students ourselves, we believe that the classes in school/college are insufficient to tap our full potential, or bring out our best academic side.
“The school/college may have the best teachers but nothing can substitute personal attention from a teacher,” says Tiah, a final year student in Economics at University College London.
The boys are hoping to tap into the largely unexplored territory of “matchmaking” services through Tuitionhamster by means of an online tuition database.
They believe that this method of searching for tuition teachers will revolutionalise the way tuition centres work in the future.
Why was a hamster chosen as their mascot?
“When we were trying to think of names for the website, we didn’t want something conventional like TuitionLink which is very forgettable. With a name like Tuitionhamster, people are intrigued. The name sticks in your head.
“Besides, hamsters are cute and I used to stay with a family that had a lot of hamsters in their house,” adds Tiah.
The beta version of the website was launched on July 20 last year, and the current database – which the public has full access to – has about 190 teachers.
Tuitionhamster has steadily received an increase in web traffic since the start of the school year.
Other features offered by the site include Hamster Library and Bounty Hamster.
Hamster Library is a collection of e-books that can be downloaded for free, in line with the philosophy that reading plays an important role in education.
The library also stocks a collection that includes the classics, novels, short stories, and books on religion, history and science.
An interesting feature of the site is the service provided by Bounty Hamster, which allows a teacher to assign cash rewards to anyone who introduces a student to him/her. Tuitionhamster does not get any commission or payment at all.
Getting the word out
Since the launch last year, the team has been active in promoting the site.
While many schools have been helpful in handing out flyers to their teachers, some teachers have frowned on the idea of introducing the website to their students.
These teachers feel that the classes in school are sufficient, and that there is no need to encourage students to take tuition on the side.
The site also receives some revenue from the advertisements featured on the website.
“But even then, the sum is not enough to cover the day-to-day costs that include web hosting and marketing,” clarifies Tiah.
He adds that a large portion of the expenses for setting up and maintaining Tuitionhamster is funded from money saved during his summer internships at JP Morgan Chase and Deutsche Bank.
When dealing with online services or transactions, the issue of credibility and security is one of primary importance. At the moment, Tuitionhamster does not perform background checks on tutors.
Instead, it operates on a principle similar to that of the online auction site eBay which “?encourages open and honest communication among all its members.”
However, in the future, Tuitionhamster does have plans to impose a rating system, and to run background checks – with the option of providing testimonials – to ensure their visitors are assured of the quality of their teachers.
Currently, the website’s database is open to university students who wish to offer home tuition to primary or secondary students to earn extra pocket money.
A teacher who recently registered his services for SPM Biology but declined to be named, commented on the uniqueness of this service.
“There have been other sites promoting tuition that require some sort of payment but this site allows me to advertise my services for free.”
For more information, log on to: http://www.tuitionhamster.com
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