Today's article showcases an online peer tutoring platform, you may have heard of - Schoolhouse. If you're wondering how this platform can benefit your students, read on as we share all the information we gathered from Akshay Ravikumar, Product Lead, Marketing Lead and Founding Engineer at Schoolhouse.

Schoolhouse.world is a non-profit organization founded by Sal Khan (founder of Khan Academy) that offers free, virtual peer-to-peer tutoring hosted by volunteer peer tutors. Schoolhouse was founded in 2020 as a response to the pandemic, and has since reached more than 15,000 learners from 100+ countries, with the help of more than 2,300+ tutors. Schoolhouse offers live math help and small-group tutoring sessions in math, SAT preparation, and more.

The role of educators

Educators are always welcome to recommend Schoolhouse to their students as a free resource, and some teachers have even required students to use Schoolhouse as part of their curriculum. Several of the platform's volunteers are also experienced educators, who are generously donating their time to tutor and mentor other tutors. "In the coming years, we hope to build deeper partnerships with schools and districts", Ravikumar states.

Receiving tutoring at Schoolhouse

Anyone above the age of 13 can use Schoolhouse, and most students are in middle school or high school. Tutoring is offered in the subject areas of math, SAT prep, AP prep, college advice, and more. Students can visit the explore page to see what’s available.

Once an account is created, students can browse the website and find a session that works for them.

Tutoring sessions are offered on a drop-in basis or on a recurring schedule. Live Help is completely drop-in, and happens for a few hours every day. On the other hand, tutees can also attend a one-off scheduled session, or a series of sessions with the same tutor and small group.

Training and recruiting peer tutors

Most of the students who participate as peer tutors are motivated high schoolers. The first step in becoming a tutor at Schoolhouse is getting certified, which involves a candidate demonstrating academic mastery by taking a Khan Academy unit test. Once certification is completed, they can continue with the rest of the tutor training and onboarding process.

After getting certified, tutors go on to complete several tutor training modules, created by a volunteer team of experienced tutors and educators. These trainings cover how to use the Schoolhouse platform, how to actively engage with learners, and how to communicate in a safe, respectful manner. In particular, the training modules include several videos and examples, to demonstrate what a good tutoring session looks like.

Tutors also receive development opportunities throughout their journey on Schoolhouse. For example, Tutor Learning Circles is offered to provide personal feedback to tutors, and give tutors the opportunity to connect with an experienced mentor for additional 1:1 support.

Tutoring sessions and checking for understanding

There are many kinds of tutoring sessions on Schoolhouse. For example, in a typical Live Help session, a student might share their Zoom screen with a homework question they’re struggling with, and the tutor will then walk through a similar question so that they can teach the fundamental concepts without giving away the answer. After that’s done, the learner will try to apply their knowledge to solve the problem at hand. 

As part of tutor training, peer tutors have been given several techniques to assess understanding during a session, like going through an example problem, giving a pre-test and post-test, or asking learners to recap what they’ve just been taught. These techniques help tutors figure out whether there are any holes in a learner’s understanding, and address them accordingly.

Peer tutoring program evaluation

After a session is over, learners submit a rating and provide feedback to their tutors. There is also a team of volunteer auditors that watch session recordings and check them for both quality and safety. Ravikumar adds, "We’re also starting to work on studies regarding the efficacy of Schoolhouse, in concrete settings like SAT preparation."

A message to students: Founding Engineer, Akshay Ravikumar lists the perks of being a Schoolhouse peer tutor

I just wanted to note some of the benefits of becoming a tutor at Schoolhouse.

  1. You build a portfolio of your academic mastery and service, and you can share this portfolio with colleges! We’ve partnered with MIT, UChicago, and Case Western, who all ask for the Schoolhouse portfolio on their undergraduate applications.
  2. If you have a service requirement as part of your school or organization, you can use Schoolhouse to get volunteer hours from the convenience of your bedroom.
  3. Once you become a tutor, you join a global community of thousands of fellow volunteers. You can make friends, join social events, and deepen your impact at Schoolhouse by joining one of several volunteer teams. In fact, so many things at Schoolhouse - user support, auditing, social media, and more - are actually run by volunteers.
  4. You’ll have access to several growth opportunities to improve your leadership, communication, and more. For example, you’ll be connected with mentors to help you improve as a tutor, and you can also join a volunteer team or become a team lead.
  5. You’ll have the opportunity to deepen your knowledge by teaching others, and also help increase access to global education!

Whether you’re interested in learning or becoming a tutor, we encourage you to join the Schoolhouse community.


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