InstaEDU: On-Demand Tutoring for Instant Homework Help!

by on September 24, 2012 · 23 comments

It’s 10:30 pm. Your child starts to panic about tomorrow’s test and asks for your help.  He thought he could figure it out on his own, but he just doesn’t get the concept that they just covered in algebra, or geometry, or physics, or history, or, well, you get the picture. You want to help but…

There comes a milestone in life that every parent dreads: when your child asks for help with homework and you have no clue how to help. Or worse, you think you know but you’re wrong.

At some point, a child’s education surpasses our retained knowledge. Perhaps you learned these concepts in school but the years have washed away your learning. Or maybe your education never covered the topic at hand so your parental guidance is sorely lacking.

At this point you’re probably wishing for a magic fairy to come help your child with his studies.

Tech can help.

InstaEDU can provide you with a tutor from a top university within seconds. InstaEDU is an online service that provides instant tutoring from top university students any time you need it. The company was founded in May and now has about 1000 tutors.

I recently spoke with Alison Johnston, Founder and CEO of InstaEDU, about their online tutoring services. She explained, “Our goal is to allow any student to get one-on-one academic support whenever they need it. The way we do that is by allowing both high school and college students to connect with tutors from top universities, both on-demand and through scheduled lessons on our site. InstaEDU creates the tutoring process in a much more flexible and affordable manor.”

The company uses students as tutors because it believes that students relate well to other students. “We think that having tutors who can relate to students is really important,” said Johnston.

Connections between students and tutors are made through InstaEDU’s website using shared lesson space, including video, audio and text chats. The site provides document sharing as well as a virtual white board, so students can upload papers for a tutor’s review and discuss suggested changes.

Students have the option of rating a tutor after every session. “We monitor those ratings very closely,” said Johnston. “We see that the vast, vast majority of sessions are rated positively.” They haven’t had an issue with a tutor getting consistently bad reviews, but they would act quickly in that situation to remove the tutor from the program, according to Johnston.

How InstaEDU Works

To get tutoring through InstaEDU, sign up for either a parent or student account. Parents who sign up for an account get an email every time their child uses the service and can see summaries of their child’s activities on the site. Parents can also schedule sessions for their child.

Students can get direct access to tutors whether they signed up themselves or through a parent account.

InstaEDU offers three types of tutoring:

  1. Instant
  2. Scheduled
  3. SAT/ACT Prep

With Instant tutoring, students choose a subject and the site shows tutors who are available to help, including their pictures, schools and qualifications. Johnston said that their average time to connect a student with a tutor is 35 seconds.

Scheduled tutoring is handy for those who know they need help ahead of time and want to schedule a tutoring session, perhaps with a favorite tutor. “A lot of our scheduled lessons actually come from people having an on-demand lesson, liking the tutor and saying, ‘Hey, let’s work together again,’” said Johnston.

InstaEDU also offers SAT/ACT prep tutoring programs, which are long-term, customized courses. Programs between 8 and 24 hours of one-on-one instruction are available and include practice tests. Programs are priced from $360-$960. You can find out more information about SAT/ACT prep at the website.

Who Can Use InstaEDU?

According to Johnston, most of the students who use InstaEDU are high school and college students, but the site will accept students as young as 13.

The company is getting requests for tutors from around the world. Students who want to practice English will use tutors, especially in preparation for applying to college in the US.

Johnston also noted that InstaEDU is getting more adult students who may be taking online classes but don’t have the classroom experience to get extra help when they need it.

InstaEDU Pricing

InstaEDU charges by the minute, with a minimum of five minutes per session. You only pay for what you use.

Tutoring costs 50¢/minute or $30/hour. Prices are reduced if you commit to purchasing tutoring ahead of time. For example, if you commit to one hour per week of tutoring, the price is 42¢/minute or $25/hour. If you commit to two hours or more of tutoring a week, the price is 37¢/minute or $22/hour. You can cancel the commitment at any time.

InstaEDU lets you try their service for free. The site gives you 10 minutes of free tutoring when you sign up. If you commit to an hour of tutoring a week, you get an hour of free tutoring. If you commit to two hours a week, you can get two free hours of tutoring.

InstaEDU Free Trial

To sign up for InstaEDU, you can go to their website, which will get you an extra five minutes of tutoring free. (This is not an affiliate link.)

Testing InstaEDU

InstaEDU provided me with 50 additional minutes of free time so that my daughter, who is a high school student, could test the service.

When my daughter first went on the site for help with chemistry, there were 11 pages of students available to help, including students from Cornell, Princeton, MIT, Stanford, Duke, Columbia, Harvard, and other prestigious universities. (You can view InstaEDU chemistry tutors here.) She chose Blake, a biochemistry major at Washington University in St. Louis.

Her tutoring session lasted 15 minutes and she was impressed not only with Blake’s knowledge, but also that he was able to explain concepts so she could understand them. He repeatedly checked to make sure she understood what he was saying. Blake also contacted her after the tutoring session was over to make sure she understood the concepts and to see if she wanted to schedule another tutoring session.

My daughter used InstaEDU two other times. One time her Wi-Fi connection at the school was weak so she didn’t have a good connection with her tutor. The other time she had a different tutor, Acata, a biology major with Honors in Marine Biology from Stanford University, who was very helpful in explaining chemistry.

My daughter was very impressed with the service and plans to use it again in the future.

Becoming a Tutor

University students who want to make $20/hour in their free time should consider becoming an InstaEDU tutor. “It’s a great job if you’re a college student,” explained Johnston. “$20/hour from your dorm room, no commute, on your schedule, it’s basically the perfect college job.”

InstaEDU accepts tutors from top US universities who have previous tutoring or teaching experience. “The vast majority of our tutors have traditional tutoring experience,” Johnston explained, but formal tutoring isn’t required. The prior experience could be helping siblings with homework.

To apply to become a tutor, you must connect with Facebook or have a .edu email address from your university so that InstaEDU can confirm your attendance at your school. After you’re approved, just go online with either Facebook or GChat (Google Chat) when you’re available. InstaEDU will contact you using Facebook or GChat to connect you with a student who needs tutoring.

To find out more about becoming an InstaEDU tutor, go to their website.

Bottom Line

InstaEDU gives you instant tutoring when you need it most.

Have you ever been stumped in helping your kids with their homework? Would you like instant access to tutoring? Do you know someone who might be a good InstaEDU tutor? Let us know in the Comments section below!

Comments on this entry are closed.

Harleena Singh
September 24, 2012 at 7:39 am

This sounds wonderful Carolyn!

It brought back old memories when my Dad had to sit with me for long hours, trying to teach me Maths! We never had any tutors those days, and even now, after so many years, it’s tough to find good ones for our kids.

Yes, times have changed and their studies have just got more tougher than before. It goes beyond parents to keep track of their kids studies, once they reach the higher classes, which is when they do need coaching and tuition.

My elder one is preparing for become a doctor, and goes for her coaching, though there are never any guarantees about if what they teach and what she picks up is good enough to clear the exams.

I wish we had InstaEDU or something like it at our end too, I might just have enrolled her in it to see how it works.

I just signed up for it, so that your daughter could get the additional 5 min., and am glad she is liking learning it from Blake and others. Great going!

Thanks for sharing this wonderful piece of information with all of us. Would pass it along to my friends who are in the U.S, as I’m sure they would love it too. :)
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr September 24, 2012 at 7:46 am

Hi Harleena, Thank you very much for signing up. I didn’t include the link so that my daughter could get the extra minutes, I wanted readers to get the extra minutes and that was the only way I saw to do that. If I can get a link from the company so that just the readers get the extra minutes, I will use that link instead. I don’t want anyone to think I’m writing about the company to get free tutoring for my daughter.

That being said, perhaps your daughter should check out InstaEDU with her 15 free minutes to see if she can get help preparing for her med school exams. InstaEDU has some professors on the site who may be able to help your daughter.

I agree, I wish they had this service when I was in school. So much of education now is far advance from when I was young. It makes you wonder what our grandchildren will experience some day!

Thanks so much for stopping by today, Harleena!
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Harleena Singh
September 24, 2012 at 9:35 am

I know that Carolyn, but I thought as I am not based in the U.S., by signing up at least someone else can benefit from it. No other reason, and sorry for the confusion. :)

I will be filling up the details and asking my daughter to check it out too, though there is a vast difference in studies and curriculum at both ends.

Thanks once again. :)
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr September 24, 2012 at 10:30 am

Good point, Harleena. I was thinking that medical schools around the world would be the same, but now that I consider that, I realize that different cultures have very different approaches to medical practices.
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Mike Maynard
September 24, 2012 at 7:44 am

I think this is a good idea. I tutor students and they were tutoring other students! They will start studying again soon. I have been advising one on when to go to the supermarket this morning. It’s only over the road from the halls, but she has to dodge the English rain. She also says the pork from the supermarket tastes like fish!
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr September 24, 2012 at 10:32 am

Hi Mike, Dodging English rain is a very useful skill to learn.

That’s great that you are doing tutoring and that your students go on to become tutors. I imagine that will happen with InstaEDU students as well, that they might go on to become tutors some day! :-)
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dadblunders September 24, 2012 at 8:56 am

I love this concept! I know at some point my knowledge will no longer be enough for my son (hopefully a few years off since he is just 3-years-old)! I have often wondered what I would do when I could no longer help him.

I know that when I was in school I had a tutor for algebra but I had to find the tutor and make arrangements to visit them on a weekly basis. They are making it so much simpler for today’s parents and streamlining the process….LOVE it!!

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Carolyn Nicander Mohr September 24, 2012 at 10:37 am

Hi Aaron, Yes, you can see why I was so very excited about sharing this amazing resource with Wonder of Tech readers. It would have been fantastic to have this resource when I was a student, but at least it’s here for this generation of students!

Yes, it will be a while before you are stumped by your son’s questions, but when it does happen, I bet that you will look for resources to help him.

I imagine that there might just be some parents logging on themselves to help their kids!
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Bill Dorman
September 24, 2012 at 10:19 am

Where was this when I needed it? I could have been a contenda…….
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr September 24, 2012 at 10:38 am

Hi Bill, That’s what I was thinking. But you definitely are a contender! (*)
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Thomas September 25, 2012 at 12:21 am

I think it is a very good option for parents and students alike. The best part is you can get tutors at any time you like. This will help in solving queries as and when they arrive. The scheduled sessions also seem like a good option. This will mean that the child will have extra guidance and he can prepare his queries before each session so that he gain maximum result out of it.

Carolyn Nicander Mohr September 25, 2012 at 8:45 am

Hi Thomas, Yes, you’re right. It’s so handy for parents and students to be able to access tutors at any time. I was impressed with the quality of the tutors as well. These are top students who have a desire to help others, which is very impressive.

Aditya September 25, 2012 at 3:11 am

Hi Carolyn,
This concept is worth admirable and the tutors who are helping others are of great help.But i guess if there is no student available to help others at the time they want then is there any alternative of that?? Or is there any timings when students can ask their problem.??
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr September 25, 2012 at 8:48 am

Hi Aditya, Great question! Yes, tutors are available at any time on any day. There may be a time where you can’t find a tutor in the subject you want, but then you could schedule a lesson to get help. Alison Johnston said that happened very rarely.

Aditya September 26, 2012 at 3:48 am

If that happens rarely and Alison has said that then i think it is a great service one can get and make their problems solved.
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Laura September 27, 2012 at 11:30 am

Hi Aditya,

Laura from InstaEDU here – just wanted to jump in. From time to time we’ll see a student try to schedule an on-demand lesson and there aren’t any tutors available to help (when it happens, it usually happens around 5 a.m., when most of our tutors are sleeping or for an advanced technical topic – say linear programming).

The good news is it’s simple to schedule a lesson for an advanced topic. All that’s required is to reach out to the tutor you want to work with and request a time; most of our tutors are super speedy about responding to lesson requests since they want to tutor :)

Hope that helps!

Carolyn Nicander Mohr September 28, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Hi Laura, Welcome to The Wonder of Tech! Thank you very much for helping to answer Aditya’s question. :-)
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Jens P. Berget
September 25, 2012 at 9:32 am

This has to be one of the best things I’ve heard about in a very long time. What an awesome service. I have never thought about it, even though I worked at a University and we offered tutoring. It was never online. I bet this can go internationally as well. A lot of people need help with language.
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr September 25, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Hi Jens, I agree with you, InstaEDU is a fantastic service that makes a lot of sense. Imagine getting top-level help whenever you need it and only paying by the minute. The tutoring is available to students around the world, though the tutors are only in the US.

Stan Faryna September 26, 2012 at 8:06 am

This is awesome. I could see myself using this service for random questions that come up.
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr September 27, 2012 at 7:13 am

Hi Stan, Good point. This service could help adults as well. Having a top student answer your questions would be a great resource! :-bd

Tim Bonner September 26, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Hey Carolyn

This sounds like a brilliant service. I know my son who is only 4 now is already more computer literate than I was at 20!

More and more things are becoming internet-based and this service would be so convenient.

Let’s hope this comes to the UK by the time my kids are 13!
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr September 28, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Hi Tim, You’re right, this is a brilliant service. I was very impressed with InstaEDU when I found out about it and was very excited to share it with Wonder of Tech readers. I hope it comes to the UK too, Tim! :-bd
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