With more teachers in the world than are actually teaching, one company sets out to discover the answer.
INTERVIEW | by Victor Rivero
The people behind this learning company believe there are more teachers in the world than are actually teaching, thus they want to empower more people to learn from each other. TutorMe is an online education platform providing on-demand tutoring and online courses. It enables thousands of tutors to share their knowledge with students around the globe. Whether you need help with high school algebra or you want to learn how to program in Python, this company provides “the perfect tutor for you.” In this interview, TutorMe Chief of Staff Kyle Baker, an experienced teacher himself (pictured, below), steps up and answers questions about the award-winning team and where they are headed in the fast-growing field of online tutoring. In this insightful discussion, hear what Kyle says about their original purposes, smart use of technology, the current state of education, the pace of change, and the future of learning.
What’s TutorMe’s origin story? What problem did you originally set out to solve?
TutorMe was founded on the belief that no student should ever feel lost or alone in their learning journey. We believe every student should have access to the exact academic support they need, exactly when they need it.
Far too often, time, location, and economic constraints create barriers for students. TutorMe plays a role in helping students overcome those barriers. We’ve created a technology platform that replicates all the best parts of in-person learning, while simultaneously cultivating a thriving community of thousands of tutors who are capable, qualified, and eager to support students. We’ve built a platform that’s intentionally more “human” than “tech”—what we’re really building and fostering is student-to-tutor, human-to-human connection.
How does TutorMe leverage technology to drive its educational mission forward?
The pandemic changed education, pushing schools and districts to embrace technology almost overnight. Nationwide, 1:1 device access for students jumped from less than two-thirds pre-pandemic to closer to 90 percent post-pandemic. We view this surge as an incredible opportunity to further personalize learning for all students at scale through TutorMe.
In my first year as a teacher, I had 32 students in my classroom, each of whom had unique learning needs. That’s the reality for virtually every educator: a classroom full of students who are dependent on one teacher to tailor the learning experience to each student’s unique needs and contexts. It’s an impossible proposition for educators—and it’s clearly a sub-optimal situation for students.
‘In my first year as a teacher, I had 32 students in my classroom, each of whom had unique learning needs.’
When a school partners with TutorMe, they’re giving students and teachers access to the support they need to thrive. Students have on-demand access to one-on-one tutoring support that’s tailored to the student’s exact needs. And educators have a community of tutors they can direct students to 24/7 for further differentiated support.
Congrats on your honors with The EdTech Awards! What does receiving this mean to you and your team?
Thank you! Accolades like this one are so meaningful to our team—they demonstrate that the work we’re doing is truly making an impact, and that the impact is being recognized by people in the field. This recognition from the EdTech Digest team is a big one, because it demonstrates we’re among the best in the industry. This honor was definitely cause for celebration among the TutorMe team.
I think I can speak on behalf of our whole team, though, when I tell you that our most meaningful celebrations occur when we take a step back to reflect on the learning that’s happening every day, and the student trajectories that are changing because of TutorMe.
It’s been quite a ride these last few years. In your view, what is the current state of education?
First, I want to acknowledge that this is a really challenging time for all stakeholders in the educational ecosystem. Schools and districts face an uphill battle this school year amid staffing shortages, unfinished learning, and other challenges. Many of us have seen the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results, which show a significant decline in reading and math scores, with lower-performing students experiencing even steeper drops in their academic scores.
All that said, in my view, this is the most exciting time for education in my lifetime. During a recent webinar I attended, a presenter summed it up well—saying something to the effect of, “2019 cannot be the pinnacle of American education.” The last few years have forced us to examine, address, and innovate on elements of the system that were broken long before the onset of the pandemic.
‘The last few years have forced us to examine, address, and innovate on elements of the system that were broken long before the onset of the pandemic.’
We’re in the midst of the largest federal investment in education in generations. Because of technology, educators have an unparalleled opportunity to use student progress and outcomes data to inform and personalize educational practice in accordance with learning science. Technology and devices are no longer ancillary to the classroom—they are the classroom. We’re at a true praxis point, where theory and action are converging in the real world, in real classrooms, and in the lives of real students, educators, and families.
There’s no question that we’re facing big challenges—but we’re better equipped to tackle those challenges than we’ve ever been. The educational ecosystem is going to continue to evolve, and we’re honored and excited to be part of that process.
Lots of change and growth, I see. What have been some recent highlights for TutorMe?
Since 2020, we’ve expanded TutorMe’s presence in the K–12 space, reaching even more students who need one-on-one, on-demand academic support. In just the last few months, we’ve partnered with schools and districts like Park County School District #16 and Columbia Public Schools to provide diversified academic support.
In tandem with that growth, we’ve focused on refining our approach to partnering with schools and districts. At the end of the day, we know access to TutorMe isn’t enough—actualizing the potential impact of one-on-one tutoring requires student acceptance and adoption. We’ve made some major improvements to the way we partner with school stakeholders to drive TutorMe usage and adoption among students and educators. Seeing those changes come to life recently has been a major highlight.
This summer we joined forces with the GoGuardian team to expand our resources and exponentially increase the positive impact on the students and educators we serve.
All of these steps have been very exciting, but they’re only just the beginning of many exciting things to come in the future.
What lies on the horizon—for TutorMe, trends you’re watching—what’s ahead?
As I shared, I don’t think there’s ever been a more exciting time to be in education. The challenges are significant, but are outmatched by the commitment, passion, and diverse perspectives of the stakeholders committed to solving them. We’re paying close attention to what’s happening across the educational landscape—we’re curious about new and innovative solutions that leverage technology for good, and we’re committed to being strong partners as those innovations unfold.
And as for what’s next? We’re committed to supporting students, educators, and families today, yes—that commitment is most important within the context of its impact on the future. Our CEO [Advait Shinde] says it often: “Improving education is the single highest point of leverage we have in improving society in the long term.”
‘Improving education is the single highest point of leverage we have in improving society in the long term.’
That belief is core to our team, and is our guiding principle for the future. More and more, we’re going to be able to connect meaningful student data to actionable practice, guided by learning science. This is an era of praxis, and if I know anything about our team members at TutorMe and GoGuardian—in addition to the educators we partner with—what you’ll see from us next is an even greater impact on student learning and development.
Victor Rivero is the Editor-in-Chief of EdTech Digest. Write to: firstname.lastname@example.org