On Nov. 21, Nimbus Tutoring Inc. launched an online tutoring service that matches McGill students with tutors—often master’s or PhD students—at the university. Nimbus plans to expand to Concordia students within the next few weeks.
According to Nimbus Founder and CEO William Liu, a McGill alumnus from the class of 2017, the idea for the platform came from his poor experiences with McGill’s Tutorial Service, which pairs tutees with undergraduate and graduate student tutors, or alumni who have graduated within the past two years. Tutors must obtain a grade of at least 80 per cent in courses they wish to teach, and teaching can only be done in-person.
“McGill tutorial is all done though email which leads to long waiting times,” Liu said. “Payments are also only done through cash, which many students find awkward.”
To avoid similar inefficiencies or discomfort, Nimbus’ app enables students to schedule and pay for appointments the day of and coordinate with their tutors to arrange plans.
“The tutoring industry is currently fragmented, and could benefit from the integration of technology,” Nimbus Marketing and Communications Director Josephine Kuo said. “We believe that by using technology, we can disrupt this industry and provide a platform that is better for both tutors and students.”
Nimbus describes itself as tutor-centric, since tutors can set their own prices according to their needs. Tutors are free to list their prices between $15 and $40 per hour, but most often charge around $15 to $25 compared to McGill Tutorial Services’ fixed $15 per hour price.
Nimbus’ long-term goal is to provide tutoring in subjects beyond what is found in university curricula.
“We want to expand to other fields, such as music, or hobbies, like pottery, for instance,” Liu said. “The premise is to create a platform where anyone with a speciality can share their knowledge through Nimbus.”
In addition to Nimbus, McGill students have access to many other resources. McGill’s own Tutorial service remains an accessible resource for students seeking help with their coursework. Caroline Monahan, U1 Arts, feels satisfied with the tutoring she received through the university.
“I didn’t have to wait at all,” Monahan said. “As soon as I contacted the tutor, I was able to meet with him. I thought the cost [to] quality ratio was incredible. I was receiving [great] tutoring for $15 dollars per hour. My tutor was flexible [and] could meet me anytime.”
McGill is looking to further improve its tutorial services over the span of this semester. In an email to the The McGill Tribune, Lina Di Genova, interim director of McGill Tutorial Services, shared her plans to solicit feedback from students and student associations to determine areas with high demand for tutoring.
“We will be [identifying] priority areas and [exploring] the possibility of new options, including group tutoring, tutor feedback mechanisms, and online [platform] options,” Di Genova said. “In cases when tutors are not readily available, we work with academic departments to find a tutor to support McGill students.”
In response to the lack of McGill-tailored tutorial services offered online, a company called GradeSlam, also founded by a McGill alumnus, Philip Cutler, has focused its services on online accessibility and unlimited tutoring for an annual fee of $50 per student.
“The GradeSlam tutors are available online 24/7 for any subject and students can work with a tutor for as long as they want, as often as they want,” Jacob Geller, marketing manager at GradeSlam, said.
GradeSlam also offers service called Essay Writing Review. Through this service, students can submit their written work in any field or language and receive feedback within 24 hours.