Online Tutoring: A 21st Century Benefit

By Karen Galarpe

It was a few years ago when I first saw those ads of companies looking for English language online tutors. These tutors were to go over essays written by Korean students, and would have to conduct one-on-one tutorials via the web.

Here was another application of modern information technology – classes and tutorials can be done online, with a student in the comfort of his home abroad going over lessons on English grammar and composition with his teacher across the seas.

I heard that Filipino English language online tutors are quite in demand, given their proficiency in the English. That isn’t surprising.

Online tutorials now are not just limited to English language tutorials. A number of tutorials are now done on the Internet, from web applications courses and college exam review courses to cooking lessons.

Yes, cooking. Senator Panfilo Lacson himself said he learned how to cook during his fugitive days last year, thanks to Google. He could now even bake his own bread!

The beauty of online tutorials is that you can take them at your own pace and at your own time. You don’t have to rush through traffic and spend for transportation to get to the tutorial center or school. And with chat facilities, online tutorials make it easy for students to raise questions and have their tutors answer them immediately. It’s learning without borders, 21st century style.

Thinking of enrolling in an online tutorial course? Here are some tips to help you choose the best one for you:

1.      Research about the company offering the online tutorial course. Is it a reputable company? How long has it been in the business? A stable reputable company may be relied on to offer quality online tutorial courses.

2.      Read up on the teachers’ qualifications. The website should give potential enrollees a brief background on the qualifications of the online tutors.

3.      Look into the details. Will you be able to chat with the tutor to get answers to your questions fast? How soon will you get feedback for tests and homework sent online?

4.      Ask for feedback from other enrollees. Check online forums for feedback about an online tutorial course, or ask family and friends for referrals.

No Excuses Not to Learn

By Ruth Manimtim-Floresca

I sometimes hear friends and other people verbalizing their desire to pursue further studies like enrolling in cooking classes, joining self-enhancement seminars, or taking up their Masters but having no time to do so. I have the same sentiments once in a while but make do with other things I CAN afford to do and spend time on.

For me, learning for adults like us should be a continuous process and must not always require formal schooling or enrollment in a class. Yes, it’s great if we can shell out money to pay for tuition or seminar/workshop fees but having no budget should not stop us from pursuing other things.

These past years, I’ve been able to expand my knowledge through self-study. I have long since acknowledged that I won’t always have the time to set aside these many hours or days to attend learning/training sessions somewhere, or that I will be able to shell out enough money to pay an instructor to teach me something.

For instance, when I got hooked on The Corrs’ music some years back, I had a cousin buy me Irish pennywhistles from the U.S. even though I’m not even sure if I could play one when they get here. A few months later, I was able to play Irish melodies from memory without looking at notes anymore!

While I was pregnant with my second child and had extra time on my hands, I also finally learned how to do cross-stitch projects properly and realized how enjoyable it is. For the next year or so, I was able to have more than a dozen creations framed and hanged on our walls.

The saying that goes “When there’s a will, there’s a way” is true. If I want to know how to do a task and I can’t afford to pay for acquiring the knowledge, I research and try to learn it on my own. When I started my own blog back in 2003, I had no idea how htmls work or what they are in the first place. I also don’t have the slightest clue about using new software that makes Power Point presentations or converts mov files to mpeg and wav files to mp3s.

But, with enough resolve to figure everything out plus a little help from techie friends who willingly answered my numerous questions, I slowly learned how to do stuff online by myself. I know I still have a lot to discover and apply, but I’m getting there.

As to my kids, I’m proud to say that my firstborn learned to play the guitar very well just by watching instructional videos and printing out music sheets from the Internet. He practices day and night and gets better by the minute. My youngest, on the other hand, could now play anime theme songs on the piano also by watching tutorials on YouTube. How’s that for determination and thirst for knowledge?

So, I think I can safely say we’re proof that learning doesn’t have to be expensive or that one has to wait for the perfect moment. Right now is better than any other time.

Note to Self

By Karen Galarpe

Watching Giada de Laurentiis, Anthony Bourdain, and even the kids on “Junior Master Chef Pinoy Edition” on TV last weekend, I got amazed once more at how they all seem to be so good at cooking. It’s so natural to them as breathing, and they seem to know what to do with food.

I, on the other hand, confess that I always end up confused whenever I go to the meats, fish, and vegetables section of the supermarket. I look at the counters and shelves and ask yet again, what do I do with these?

Pressed for time, I would order a half kilo of this, pick up a frozen pack of that, and grab a sealed pack of salad vegetables (just pour dressing!) before heading to the canned meats section.

Cooking isn’t one of the areas I’m gifted in. I’m not like my friend Meg who can whip up something without the help of a recipe. Oh sure, I can cook survival food and fry something. But still I’d look up a recipe just to make sure I put in the right amount of soy sauce or vinegar in it.

And so that’s my first Note to Self this year: Learn to cook more. The benefits: healthier food for me and my family, plus I need not look so lost in the meat section next time.

I think we all should take steps to do some self-improvement regularly. We are not perfect, and there’s bound to be some area in our lives we need to improve on.

Here are some suggestions on self-improvement steps you might want to take. Make a note to yourself to do any or all of the following:

  • Learn something new this year. It could be as simple as changing a car’s tires or baking a chocolate cake, or as challenging as learning a new language. Commit to learn a new thing this 2011.
  • Start an exercise program, or if you have one already, stay on track and even do more challenging stuff. I was sedentary for many years before I decided to finally again start exercising last year. The huffing and puffing as I climb up stairs has lessened, if not diminished, and I’m stronger now than before.
  • Read the Bible. You read books, don’t you? Why not read the Bible in a year? I found that there is much wisdom in the holy book, and we can find many of the answers to life’s questions there.
  • Travel. Get out of your city this year, and head to a province or another country to take a break and get a glimpse of the world outside. Traveling provides many opportunities for learning. It opens our eyes to how we can improve our lives and our nation.
  • Get involved. Donate blood, help build a house, volunteer to hold the hand of a child with cancer, or collect clothes and toys that can be given to the less fortunate. You may be just one person, but you can do much to help others.
  • Count your blessings. Stop complaining and be grateful for what you have. It’s a great life, one that’s worth living.