The Changing Face of Supplemental Learning

Connexeo - 02/20/2018

The growth of technology and the business trend of franchising have combined to make supplemental education programs more accessible than ever before.

Parents want their children to get the best education possible so they can succeed in college and in adulthood. But often, and for various reasons on both sides, these students need help outside the parameters of the classroom. The child may have learning difficulties, or the school may not be able to provide everything the student needs.

Private tutoring has been available for centuries and is still utilized today. But over the past 20 years or so, franchised learning centers have emerged as less expensive alternatives. From any-subject generalists, such as Sylvan Learning Centers and Huntington Learning Centers, to subject specialists, such as Mathnasium or Oxford Learning’s French program, an abundance of companies are around to help students get over the hump.

The any-subject centers offer instruction in almost anything from language arts, to math, to science, to foreign languages in some cases. Many are also invaluable to supplement (or replace) English as a Second Language programs, and some offer packages designed for students with Dyslexia, ADD/ADHD, or other learning disabilities.  

As franchisees come forward, these brick-and-mortar facilities are growing at a rapid pace. The typical layout of these facilities consist of an open area in which students solve worksheets, do their homework, and engage in group activities, with some closed-off rooms in which private instruction takes place.

The tutors/instructors at these learning centers range from moonlighting university professors and K-12 teachers, to college students – and even some high school seniors – who must undergo a vigorous testing and interview process.

While most of these operations’ teaching is based on systems developed by the founders of the companies, almost all of them offer customized programs that adapt to the student’s level of expertise, learning pace, and the ultimate goal of the student and parents. They offer services ranging from simple homework help to private, one-on-one tutoring, to curriculum enhancement. Most also offer preparation for college admissions tests, such as the SAT and ACT.

While the physical centers are growing, so are online tutoring programs. A survey by Technavio predicted that online-tutoring-industry revenue worldwide will increase by about 12% each year through 2021, to reach $120.67 billion, up from $63.57 billion in 2016.

The same report states that, as with the rest of the world, tutoring is going mobile – “m-learning,” as Technavio calls it. Software developers such as Adobe and others are creating apps to help students learn. Pearson, which supplies educational products to teachers, home-school parents and tutors, offers a variety of solutions to assist students with mobile learning. The tutor-matching company Skooli offers an app through which students can connect with tutors and lessons through their mobile phones.

Customization is also influencing the online tutoring market. Kaplan, for example, utilizes surveys to assess what a student needs, mostly for its test-preparation courses. These tools also allow students to track their performance.

The companies listed above are just the for-profit, independent providers of educational enhancement. Many school districts, individual schools, and municipal programs also offer opportunities for learning help – and of course, many teachers out of the kindness of their hearts and desire to see their students succeed will provide help on their own time to those who need it.

This is a growing field, with many affordable options.



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