A free online tutoring program that helps public school students with math problems in real time will be available to community college students for the first time starting this fall.
Officials hope the expansion will help students who leave high school unprepared for the rigors of college-level math.
The Online Learning Academy, whose tutors are University of Hawaii math and science students, was launched three years ago as a way to provide one-on-one help to public school students, especially those in rural areas.
So far this school year, the academy has provided more than 3,000 tutoring sessions to 755 students. That’s up from about 2,000 sessions last school year and fewer than 1,000 the year before.
Public school students statewide can log on to the University of Hawaii’s Online Learning Academy to get free, live math tutoring from UH math and science students. In the fall, the service will also be offered to community college students. The academy is at www.manoa.hawaii.edu/ola.
Program manager Cherie Hayes-Gigante said the online academy allows tutors and students to connect wherever they are. Tutoring is offered from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday.
"So many kids need help with math," she said. "We want to expand as much as we can."
Hayes-Gigante said that after launching the program, the university saw a need to expand services to community college students, a number of whom need remedial math instruction. A pilot program for community colleges kicked off this year, and in the fall the program will be offered to all community college students.
Michael Buenconsejo, 54, a student at Kauai Community College, began using the program earlier this year.
His daughter Karmela, a fifth-grader at Wilcox Elementary, also uses the online tutoring and has seen her grades improve.
"We’ve seen the results," Buenconsejo said. "She was going from ‘approaching expectations’ to ‘exceeding expectations.’"
Buenconsejo said he often grew frustrated when trying to help his daughter with math, and so was happy to get her linked up with a tutoring program that she could access when she needed to.
He later jumped at the chance to brush up on his own math skills.
"The advantage for it is time," he said. "You can put your kids to bed and then go."