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I frequently encounter potential students who are hesitant to be tutored remotely. They feel that somehow remote tutoring is less "private" or less "one-on-one" than when the tutor comes to their home. I think this is an undue generalization - and a myth of sorts. The quality of the tutoring and of the individual attention that the student receives is not a function of the mode of communication, but of the quality, attentiveness, knowledge, intelligence and skill of the tutor. I can say with complete certainty that when I tutor you remotely, I am just as much "present" as if we were sitting together at the same table. And irrespective of whether I tutor you remotely or face-to-face, what matters is that I am a highly trained mathematician who is comfortable with the subject, that - like a good physician - I know how to listen very closely to your specific trouble symptoms, that I respect your time and your learning preferences, and that I am an excellent teacher.

All of my tutoring sessions are performed by telephone, while using an electronic whiteboard to write on. In addition, whenever useful and appropriate, I may also use email (to send you extra materials, receive from you solutions to problems, and comment on them), instant messaging (as a text-only alternative to the whiteboard), and fax (to exchange pages or chapters of books). The electronic whiteboard acts as a "shared screen" on which both parties - the teacher and the student - can write mathematical expressions, diagrams or graphs. You do not incur any charges for the telephone conversations or for using the whiteboard software.

What you will need

You will definitely need the ability to simultaneously talk on the phone and be connected to the Internet. The connection to the Internet doesn't have to be broadband - if you have two phone lines and a reasonable-speed dialup account, I believe this should do just fine. Other than that, you may want to purchase a set of headphones for your phone, so you don't have to hold the receiver at your ear for prolonged periods of time, and you may want to purchase a pen-tablet to use instead of the mouse, for better control when drawing on the whiteboard. But both of these are, I would say, optional.

What you don't need is any particular proficiency with computers. The whiteboard software is easy to install and easy to use, and you will have no problems with it.

The whiteboard program I generally use is Coccinella, which I ask you to download and install on your computer. It is free software, perfectly safe, and has versions that run under Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. I will, of course, help you with the downloading and installation, if you need.

Coccinella is a Jabber client, and in order to enable you to use it, I will create for you an ID and password on the Mind-Crafts Jabber server. After that, you will be set to go.


If I am tutoring you for a class and you want me to help you with problems or texts from a specific book which I don't own and would not otherwise be interested in owning, there are three options. If it is just a matter of a few problems at a time, you can type them into an email or dictate them to me over the phone. Otherwise, you can either fax me the relevant pages of the book, or give me the funds to purchase the book (I can get most books pretty cheaply, used).