Student Achievement

Program Uses Video to Teach Math, Physics

By The Associated Press — February 22, 2010 2 min read
BRIC ARCHIVE

Leo Shmuylovich knows a lot about how tutoring can take a student from confused to confident.

The Washington University graduate student has worked as a tutor for several test-preparation companies over the years, helping St. Louis-area high school students prepare for college-entrance exams.

In that time, he noticed that similar problems hindered many students working on math and science concepts.

“All the students had the same issues coming up,” he said. “One key step confused everyone.”

Now, Mr. Shmuylovich has launched his own idea for adapting tutoring in the digital age. And Washington University’s Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies has taken notice, awarding him and his business partner its highest prize for student-led entrepreneurial ventures.

Working with his friend, graphic designer Josh Salcman, Mr. Shmuylovich created Virtual Nerd. The tutoring subscription service, found at virtualnerd.com, uses hundreds of online videos similar to those on YouTube to guide students visually through math and physics concepts, such as expressions, polynomials, and factoring a trinomial.

What is Virtual Nerd?

SOURCE: Virtual Nerd

“I’ve had a lot of people who say, ‘I’m not a math person,’ ” Mr. Shmuylovich said. “But I think that everyone is built to do math.”

Options for Students

Mr. Shmuylovich and Mr. Salcman wanted to offer tutoring services that could be tailored to students’ needs without being prohibitively expensive. The service costs about $40 a month, a sum that might buy only an hour or two of face-to-face tutoring time from more-traditional services.

Virtual Nerd is part of a rapidly growing tutoring industry, which is estimated by some measures to exceed $3.4 billion each year. Those who praise the concept say it fits perfectly within the needs of that marketplace.

“I think that students are obviously becoming more virtual in a lot of the things they do,” said Ken Harrington, the managing director of the Skandalaris Center, adding that Virtual Nerd makes the technology friendly.

Digital Directions

This month, Education Week began a special technology feature that will appear in every issue of the newspaper, covering news, trends, and ideas about digital learning and administrative uses of tech tools in schools.

Read the winter issue of Education Week Digital Directions to learn more about digital tools for customizing learning, the role of e-learning in personalizing education, teacher use of whiteboards, Twitter in the classroom, and student perspectives about how schools could use technology more effectively.

The service gives students the option of using its hundreds of videos to zero in on a concept they are struggling with. For example, students may want to use the service to learn to multiply binomials using the “Firsts, Outers, Inners, Lasts,” or foil, method for solving such a problem. One video demonstrates how to use that method.But students who get lost along the way can click on more-basic concepts, such as a video explaining what a binomial is. Typically, every video links to dozens of others, allowing students to customize their own lessons.

The program was tested last year at Chaminade College Preparatory School in St. Louis, where 100 freshmen used it for three weeks before a physics exam.

Sudesh Shah, a freshman-physics teacher, said that the program used her papers and test questions and made tutorials to fit. “They really helped,” she said. Students who used the program before the exam “had a great improvement in their grades. I was quite impressed.”

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the February 24, 2010 edition of Education Week as Need Help With Math? Watch the Virtual Nerd

Events

Jobs The EdWeek Top School Jobs Virtual Career Fair
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Safe Return to Schools is Possible with Testing
We are edging closer to a nationwide return to in-person learning in the fall. However, vaccinations alone will not get us through this. Young children not being able to vaccinate, the spread of new and
Content provided by BD
Equity & Diversity Live Online Discussion What Is Critical Race Theory and Why You Shouldn't Shy Away From It
In this episode of A Seat at the Table, Peter DeWitt sits down with lawyer-educator Janel George and EdWeek reporters, Stephen Sawchuk and Andrew Ujifusa, as they discuss what’s at the heart of the critical

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Student Achievement Quiz Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Education/Workforce Readiness?
Quiz Yourself: How are students doing with education and workforce readiness?
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Whitepaper
Accelerate Post Pandemic Learning Recovery: A Few Big Bets
This panel presents an overview of three of the “big bets” being promoted by the Campaign for Grade Level Reading to the local funders, c...
Content provided by The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Whitepaper
The Road to Recovery: Removing the Blocks to Student Engagement
Let’s identify the rocks on the road for all students and understand what it takes to remove them.
Content provided by Newsela
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Whitepaper
How Schools Are Addressing Learning Loss: New Research from EdWeek
In this session, the EdWeek Research Center, in partnership with Kelly Education, reports on how school districts across the country plan...
Content provided by Kelly Education