When students plug our Compass standard-issue desk cameras into their laptop USB ports, they discover the device itself goes by the rather silly name of “Ziggi HD Cam.” However, they’ll soon come to appreciate that this unremarkable piece of hardware is absolutely essential to delivering via video chat the same incredible experience that our California students receive working at their kitchen tables.
As a long-tenured Compass tutor, I’ve taught hundreds of students face-to-face all over Los Angeles. More recently, as an original member of (and trainer for) Compass’s online tutor corps, I’ve worked with students streaming video connections from such diverse locations as a high rise in Hong Kong and a library in rural Oklahoma.
I’ve found the simple desk camera we send our students is *the* key component of being able to deliver our same Compass curriculum remotely– while retaining the same pedagogy and learning outcomes we achieve in person.
The desk camera allows me to watch a student work through a math problem — or mark up a reading passage — in the same book, at the same juncture of the lesson, as they would if I were present at their desk. I get to see everything that happens with a student’s pencil and paper … as it happens. And then I’m able to interrogate, instruct, and hopefully enlighten accordingly.
And the operative expression here is “pencil and paper.” At least for the next few years, the ACT and SAT will remain exclusively paper tests, and I’ve found there is no substitute for the sort of mental “muscle memory” that engaging with test prep content primarily with pencil and paper provides.
“Predictive learning algorithms.” “collaborative whiteboards,” and “on demand video tutorials” have their place in today’s educational landscape. But for college test prep these should ideally only supplement one-on-one, pencil-and-paper-based learning with a committed tutor.
I love working for a company that stands behind this philosophy with a commitment to arming our students — before they’ve even begun their first lesson — with the hardware that makes it possible.