Its unlikely that any of us will forget 2016 in a hurry, but amongst the political fireworks and celebrity mortalities, Tutorhub turned in another record year. Record visits to the website, record visits to the blog and record numbers of lessons held. Tutorhub hosted more than twice as many lessons in 2016 as in 2015.
Every month might bring a new record, but on behalf of all of us in the Tutorhub Team, we’d like to say a big thank you to students with their thirst for knowledge and to tutors who continue to show up in their droves with knowledge that stretches from the mainstream through to the most specialised corners of academia and professional education.
One of the big benefits of service marketplaces like Tutorhub, Airbnb, Uber or Thumbtack, is that they provide service providers with an extra income source and permit a great deal of flexibility in when, how and where you work. It’s a way to work on your own terms.
Whether it’s freelance professionals on Thumbtack, drivers on Uber or teachers at Tutorhub, the ability to dip in and out of extra work has become a really popular way to meet unexpected expenses, pay for a special trip or to maintain a steady income as other income sources become unstable. In a way, it’s the new way to save. Rather than hold back a percentage of my regular income for those inevitable ‘rainy days’, I can just get out there and get stuck into a second job when the need arises. I occasionally take the Uber car service and it always amazes me how positive the drivers are. Most of them give the impression that this isn’t a job they have to do, it’s something they genuinely enjoy. We see that with many of our teachers and tutors at Tutorhub. On the one hand, it’s a great way to earn some extra income, but you can see that sharing knowledge is something that comes naturally – it’s a joy to teach, not a chore, another aspect of the sharing economy.
But whilst the financial element is important, it’s the ability to feel in control of your own destiny that stands out. You don’t have to be there at 9 am every day. The only routine is the routine you set. Somehow it seems to fit with the more natural rhythm of how we want to work. Pre-industrial revolution, people didn’t work 9-5, 5 days per week, with annual holiday. Those terms were set by the original factory owners for whom it was more efficient to have everyone there at the same time. Artisans worked when they wanted or needed to work. Sound familiar?
Every so often, we get a question posted on the Tutorhub Q&A that kicks off a whole debate amongst the tutors on what the correct answer should be. A good example: what is the probability the sun will rise tomorrow? A simple enough question and the initial reaction reflects a simple answer: the probability is 1. But then you can see people starting to think about it: the sun doesn’t actually rise, it’s just the language we use to describe the phenomenon as we see it, there is a small chance that it could blow up and it wouldn’t appear (although the explosion would take us with it, I presume). But what’s great about this is that the student has started a conversation that goes beyond a simple answer to a simple question; you can’t help but feel that this is where the thinking really starts.
Following the creation of The Tutors Association, we have become keen advocates of this organisation which aims to promote tutoring as an industry and introduce standards for those businesses operating within it. Under the energetic leadership of Tom Maher, they are in the process of setting out what they stand for and what they want to achieve. Whilst still embryonic they are seeing good growth in both corporate and independent tutor membership numbers.
Tutorhub stands at the vanguard of a new and rapidly growing segment of the tutoring market – online tutoring, and we have been working with other UK based online tutoring businesses to create a Code of Practice for businesses operating in the online market. Its objective is to set out business practice in the way these businesses operate with customers and students.
Under the auspices of The Tutors Association there are plans to conduct a survey into how the online tutoring market is evolving. Surveys like this are great at improving public awareness, and coming from an independent body such as the Tutors Association will carry weight in the media.
Finally, I was asked by BBC Radio Bristol talk on behalf of the Tutors Association in a discussion about educational reforms and going back to school on 1st September. If you would like to listen to it, please click the bar below.