Cloud-Tutoring – Combining Automated Teaching and Personalized Learning

The most frequent Fi3M guest poster is back once again! Today Idahosa will give us food for thought on the possibilities of scalable, yet interactive language teaching, and the system he has set up to facilitate it, following up with the soundcloud feedback concept he introduced in the previous post.

I’m getting a lot of private lessons myself these days, and I can certainly see how a lot of this could be applied. Although one thing I feel is never going to be scalable is live spontaneous conversation practice and real time interaction, which is something I’m working on a lot these days, in Arabic.

Having said that, for beginner learners starting off who would cover almost the exact same material as other people, and for advanced learners who need to tweak some pronunciation and turn-of-phrase issues on exercises their teacher can assign them, this definitely holds a lot of potential for saving money and time, and helping students and teachers potentially work better together.

Check it out, and let us know your thoughts in the comments! Over to you Idahosa:

In my vision of language education:

  1. Every student should have a personalized learning experience.
  2. No teacher should ever have to repeat herself more than once.

Seems paradoxical right? The teacher can repeat a piece of information only once in a book or CD, then distribute that message to the to the masses the way Pimsleur or Rosetta stone does, but then student experience would NOT be personalized at all.

On the other side of the spectrum, the student can get all the personal attention he needs buy hiring a private tutor, but then that tutor would find herself repeating the same advice and instructions over and over again with each new student.

Indeed, these values are in direct competition with one another in the traditional educational models, but with “Cloud-Tutoring” they can co-exist. A Cloud-Tutor is a language educator who personally instructs his or her students virtually through “The Cloud”.

In my Mimic Method Flow Series Cloud, for example, I have over 500 students whom I personally provide pronunciation instruction to in less than 1 hour a day, any time of day I choose, from any place in the world. Within the next year, I plan to multiply my student numbers while still providing personalized feedback to each one with minimal man-hours per day.

Read on to learn how I plan to do this. By the way you should know – there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t do it too….

Summary of Cloud Tutoring

In my last guest post, “How to Receive Language Feedback for Free and Provide it for Profit” I discussed different ways you could use the free web application Soundcloud to share your language learning sounds and give precise feedback on other people’s sounds through the “timed-comments” feature.

I created a “Flow Forum” to facilitate this change, and many readers of this blog were excited to “unmute their language learning” by submitting recordings of themselves speaking their target languages and helping other people learn there’s (Note: The Flow Forum is being dismantled to establish more focused language-learning forums, learn more here). Here’s an example of a post to this forum – scroll over the icons at the bottom to read the comments.

  • Randybvain Torques

    That sounds very interesting. But does it LOOK? Are you planning to include visual feedback too?

    • 詹姆斯 卡梅尔 Carmel James

      Are you wanting a sound wave that indicates what tones are used … to help with Chinese pronunciation? The sound waves above show volume. I’ve tried to find ones that show tones or pitch, but they really don’t work because they pick up too many over tones I think. It looks like a really thick wave with a faded edge, instead of a just a line. It’s hard to describe, but I gave up looking. I’m now concentrating on training my ear, and having been really tone deaf all my life … I think I’ve made some progress, and I don’t plan to give up. I think Idahosa is on the right track here. What he’s offering in his language mimic courses is exactly what I need.

  • Miranda P

    I’m a little confused- is the mandarin tone tutoring course described in the first part still active, or have you shut it down due to the comment blocks?

  • David Sweetnam

    This is perhaps the first time in a few years of reading Benny’s blog that I thought: “Gee, hope he isn’t losing the plot.”

    Sure, if you’re in the middle of the Aussie Outback or the jungles of South America, Cloud Tutoring has a valid role to play. Even perhaps for some people in specialised roles (eg actors) who need their accent looked at.

    But most people don’t need to go to a Cloud to learn a language: getting one to one time in person on the ground will always win over this technology.

    There’s money involved and you’re selling a product. I do hope it helps people improve their spoken skills, but the best way is to do what many bloggers promote: get focused individual attention in person (or on Skype if need be) and get out there and be active in the language.

    Re: ‘exclusive English time’ I think all teachers can appreciate the frustration when students only do English during their lesson, and leave the rest of the week to other matters. It then becomes a matter of managing expectations – I tell my students to expect to get out of it what they put in. But as things go, I have students who are married with children, perhaps juggling a job or two, and learning languages is not the same passion as it is for bloggers and travellers.

    Will look fwd to seeing what others think, and good luck