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Two quick questions for those of you who have been keeping track of the instant tutoring feature that was recently rolled out on italki:
1. While my impression isn't based on any hard data, it seems to me that professional Russian language teachers and community tutors aren't yet offering their services very frequently via instant tutoring. (This is very likely the case with many of the languages taught on italki though, I would guess.) Has anyone else noticed this and wondered why this may be? Is this perhaps an issue of a perceived lack of demand for instant tutoring?
2. Related to that, do Russian students / teachers / tutors think it would be valuable if italki added a feature to instant tutoring in which students could indicate that they were looking for instant tutoring when no one was on-line offering it? Presumably teachers/tutors could subscribe to some sort of feature that would notify them that a student was interested in 30 minutes of tutoring? That is, the current design of instant tutoring only allows for notification as to supply, but not as to demand...
Just a thought, as I sit here and stare apprehensively at prefixed verbs of motion that continue to haunt my every waking moment...
well, it's just not convenient and has certain penalties. i have to sit at the computer and check that window. of course nothing happens most of the time, so i tend to forget about it doing other things.. this way it's easy to miss a call and to get bad stats. there is just not enough demand for russian to be there, i guess. although, i spend most of the time in front of computer and if it would send me a message by skype when somebody is interested AND if i could safely ignore it, then it would be not a problem to turn on instant tutoring. yea, some people could request a lesson without getting any replies, but i think it's not a problem to just cancel the "call" and to give another teacher a try. this way it would be much easier and would create a much bigger opportunity in compare to "now".
I am not a Russian teacher but with instant tutoring, the renumeration is too low and the risks are too high.
Thanks so much for the feedback Yuriy and mondaytuesday. The penalty aspect is clearly a powerful disincentive, and it strikes me that this might be something that the good italki folks should re-think. I agree that teachers should have the option of whether they want to accept a given instant tutoring request, and shoud not run the risk of seeing their stats negatively affected on the basis of that choice. Similarly, if italki did implement the opportunity for students to request instant tutoring more generally (not targeted at a specific teacher), there should be the possibility for students to decline offers that were then made.
As for the renumeration, I've noticed that some tachers/tutors are setting their instant tutoring rates well above their regular hourly rates, presumably reflecting the costs of being "on call" for people who need assistance but when there has been little time to prepare. In other cases, of course, there are those that set the rate quite low -- and that might appeal to students who are simply looking for some spontaneous conversation with a partner who is more or less guaranteed to show up?
I doubt we're any closer to seeing a good solution to this, but I wish that we were.
And forgive the typos:
Just to be clear, I don't mean risks in terms of penalties -- I meant the risk (as a woman and "professional" who is somewhat concerned about my online identity) of getting onto a Skype call with someone who could be just casually looking for entertainment...
I have already started to ask prospective students more screening questions before I accept sessions.
I hear your very good point, though, about having a teacher alerted that there is a student seeking an instant tutoring session with them i.e. someone is online and would like a session right now, with ME (and maybe it's someone I already know, etc) That is a great point.
As I'm sure you know, there are RISKS for anyone selling professional services in REJECTING prospective clients / students. For the same reason that businesses are careful about how they reject job applicants (knowing that harsh rejection of *anyone* hurts their brand) ... for this reason, I don't want (and I don't think italki wants to) get into the position of saying 'no' more than necessary.
As for the renumeration, I've noticed that some tachers/tutors are setting their instant tutoring rates well above their regular hourly rates, presumably reflecting the costs of being "on call" for people who need assistance but when there has been little time to prepare << ABSOLUTELY. The costs *and* the risks...
I absolutely agree with Yuri: you have to spend hours in front of your screen and check that particular window. As long as you haven't got any instant tutoring experience, you've no idea, what the alarm sygnal would be like, so you feel anxious. I tried the feature during the first couple of weeks after it was lunched, but in vain. Got no requests and then became very busy and forgot about it.
I'd suggest to the italki that they improve/demonstrate the alert or maybe create a system of an online request for the students so that the teachers could see that there are demands for a particuar language tutoring for the next hour. Or maybe if an email was sent to the teacher in case of an instant tutoring request (but then the time of waiting should be increased up to 30 min)...
I'm not particularly concerned about the risks of getting a student looking for other things than tutoring mentioned by Mondaytuesday. At least, I haven't got any bad experience with that. I usually have a look at the prospective student's background and exchange a couple of messages with them before accepting a lesson.
Thanks for chiming in on this, Tatiana.
It seems that there is somewhat of a general sense that this could be a useful addition to the teaching and learning tools on italki, but that there are some fundamental tweaks that would be necessary in order for teachers to feel more comfortable with using it. The online request suggestion fits very squarely with my thoughts about needed some sort of mechanism to communicate student demand. And the idea as to email notification -- of course. This would easily allow teachers to be involved in other activities but still get a heads up as to possibilities for instant tutoring.
I'll see if any other comments surface her ein the next few days. After that, I'll forward the link to this discussion to the italki staff and hope that they will give it a glance and take the points raised here into consideration.
Big thanks all!