In Pursuit of the Best Learning Strategies, the Department of Defense Will Study 250,000 of Tutor.com’s Algebra and Physics Tutoring Sessions

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Studying Tutor.com’s one-to-one, online tutoring practices will improve tutoring and training programs provided by the Department of Defense for service members and students.

"This partnership with Tutor.com provides a unique opportunity to study and analyze hundreds of thousands of discrete tutoring sessions," said Frank C. DiGiovanni, Director, Force Readiness and Training, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense

Tutor.com announced today that it has been selected by the Department of Defense (DoD) to help the Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative (ADL) identify which specific instructional strategies and tactics can be used to improve existing and future tutoring and training programs at the DoD. Tutor.com and DoD will work with researchers from the Institute for Intelligent Systems (IIS) at the University of Memphis who have expertise in academic data mining and artificial intelligence. The team will analyze about 250,000 anonymized online tutoring sessions completed by Tutor.com’s algebra and physics tutors.

Since 2001, Tutor.com has delivered more than 10 million one-to-one, live tutoring and homework help sessions online. The subset of 250,000 sessions being made available to the DoD are three orders of magnitude greater than what has ever been studied or available to study.    The goal is to identify the best practices of Tutor.com’s tutors and translate their successful techniques and strategies into best-of-breed hybrid learning and training models that take advantage of both live, online one-on-one learning, as well as sophisticated online, adaptive modules.

ADL was created by President Clinton in 1999 to ensure that the DoD could take full advantage of technological advances in order to acquire the skills and learning needed to succeed in a changing workplace. Among key initiatives is the Next Generation Learner which includes a vision to create Personal Assistants for Learning (PAL) – a more human, transparent interface for truly adaptive learning.

The DoD already has experience working with Tutor.com as the Morale, Welfare and Recreation General Library Program, Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program and Navy General Library Program and the DoD funds the Tutor.com for Military Families program, which offers expert online tutoring 24/7 at no cost to eligible service members and their families.

"This partnership with Tutor.com provides a unique opportunity to study and analyze hundreds of thousands of discrete tutoring sessions to improve our understanding of remote training techniques, create a schema of learning models and build templates that may be used to automate individualized tutoring," said Frank C. DiGiovanni, Director, Force Readiness and Training, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense. "Researchers have never had access to such a large volume of tutoring data before and we think the outcome of this partnership will propel our learning and training programs forward to support not just our armed forces, but learners of all ages across the country."

“The partnership between ADL, Tutor.com, and IIS is an unprecedented opportunity to extend our understanding of how expert human tutors help students learn, and to apply this knowledge to the development of 21st century systems for personalized learning.” said Dr. Art Graesser, founder and lead scientist for IIS. “We are particularly interested in working with our partners to explore the potential of hybrid systems that adapt to the cognitive, emotional, personal, and social states of learners.”

“We are excited to work with ADL and the Institute for Intelligent Systems to provide a historic amount of valuable data around the magic that happens during one-on-one learning,” said Mandy Ginsberg, the CEO of Tutor.com. “We have seen the benefits the Tutor.com model brings to millions of students in regards to concept mastery and higher grades. The opportunity for this research team to gain insights and help create even better experiences for future learning models is an exciting opportunity.”

About Tutor.com
Tutor.com is the largest online tutoring company with a community of more than 3,000 expert tutors and more than 10 million one-to-one tutoring sessions completed. Professional tutors are available 24/7 in 40+ subjects, including AP courses and SAT/ACT test prep. Ninety percent of students who use Tutor.com get better grades, feel more confident and complete their homework on time. Tutor.com, an IAC company, powers tutoring and homework help programs for the Department of Defense: thousands of public libraries, school districts, colleges and universities; and the states of Alabama, Alaska, Louisiana, Montana, North Dakota, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia.

About IIS
The Institute for Intelligent Systems, University of Memphis (IIS) is dedicated to advancing the state of knowledge and capabilities of intelligent systems, including psychological, biological, and artificial systems. By conducting cutting-edge research and publishing its findings in peer-reviewed venues, IIS contributes to the discipline and, ultimately, to the public. In doing so, IIS is also training the next generation of scientists. Its mission depends on an interdisciplinary approach that brings together researchers from many different research areas in the cognitive sciences, including biology, communication sciences & disorders, computer science, education, engineering, linguistics, philosophy, physics, and psychology. Researchers affiliated with the IIS have received funding from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Institute of Education Sciences, and numerous other agencies and corporate partners. In 2007, the IIS won the prestigious Academic Excellence Award from the Tennessee Board of Regents. The Institute for Intelligent Systems is located on the fourth floor of the University of Memphis’ FedEx Institute of Technology.

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Jennifer Kohn
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