Learning is about connection. Whether it’s the rapport built between students and educators or the connection between students and their lessons, it is essential to link students with the resources that will help them succeed. Ordinary circumstances, such as a long commute, as well as extraordinary circumstances, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, can make such connections difficult, demanding virtual meeting and teaching tools to bridge both distance and knowledge gaps. Zoom and Google Classroom are among some of the more familiar options available. However, A+ Test Prep and Tutoring’s exclusive and exceptional iCollaborate platform offers an enhanced experience that is more collaborative than passive and is specifically designed for education.
How iCollaborate Works
Free to all A+ students and adaptable to a variety of programs from test prep to executive function coaching, iCollaborate is a website with virtual classrooms where students and tutors can simultaneously view and mark lesson material on adjacent “whiteboards.”
Before tutoring begins, students new to iCollaborate will receive a 15-minute consultation and tutorial. There is also a video tutorial series available. Students learn how to access iCollaborate using a link to their unique room, how to take advantage of annotation tools, and how to save their work to review after sessions.
During tutoring, students and tutors may use the screen sharing feature to share study and learning resources, while the screen recording feature may be used to revisit sessions or parts of sessions. Both tutors and students may also use iCollaborate’s wide range of annotation features, including pointers, highlighters, text, and drawing tools.
To write with better accuracy and dexterity, users of iCollaborate can even install a low cost digital pen tablet via wi-fi or USB. This is especially useful for math tutoring.
Advantages of iCollaborate
So what sets iCollaborate apart from other virtual learning options? Unlike other platforms that may be connected to a Google account or social media networks, iCollaborate is completely private and secure. Privacy also means that iCollaborate offers users a much more personalized learning experience. Each student has his or her own tutoring room that contains all of their lesson materials, saved whiteboards with annotations, and a file directory.
Users can upload and download documents from room files or save annotated whiteboards at any time. So if, for example, a student would benefit from reviewing materials and notes on iCollaborate between sessions, then all he or she has to do is visit his or her private tutoring room. Students can also upload photos, scans, or documents in advance of their next meeting with their tutor.
Flexibility is another standout benefit of iCollaborate, as tutors Julie Mueller and Barbara Lommer explain. Tutors and students “have everything we need open in front of us,” which Mueller says allows her “to be creative.” Lommer, meanwhile, praises iCollaborate’s superiority over Google Classroom and Zoom, since iCollaborate can recreate the feeling of “your teacher looking over your shoulder in school and explaining something in your notebook just for you.”
Specifically, Lommer highlights how iCollaborate makes tutoring a more spontaneous and simultaneous process compared to other platforms. Instead of taking and uploading photos of graphs or writing out complex math formulas or scientific notations in Google Classroom, iCollaborate allows users to quickly upload “any file format” and draw together on a graph paper whiteboard in a way that Lommer describes as no “different than sitting with a blank paper next to a student and pushing the paper back and forth as you work on it together.”
It’s easy to use, too! The intuitive format of each iCollaborate room combines familiar features of file managing software, internet browsers, and word processing programs.
Not only can iCollaborate adapt to the technical needs of its users, it also can adapt to their learning needs. Your student can benefit from the advantages of iCollaborate whether preparing for a standardized test, such as the SAT or ACT, developing executive function skills, working on a college application essay, or getting subject-specific academic support.
Summary of the unique benefits of iCollaborate:
- Each student has his/her own dedicated tutoring room which can be visited between sessions.
- Students and tutors can upload images and documents to iCollaborate before or during a session.
- Students and tutors can view and annotate multipage PDF files or documents together.
- Work can be saved within the system, or downloaded for future review.
- Multiple whiteboards can be created during a lesson, or set up in advance, and accessed via tabs.
- Video windows can be moved anywhere and made any size, including hiding self-view.
- The screen share feature allows tutors to share more than one window at a time.
Putting it All Together
Remote learning options—especially good remote learning options—are more important than ever. Rather than rely on Zoom or Google Classroom, A+ offers its own online tutoring platform, iCollaborate, with private, accessible, and flexible features that will enhance any student’s virtual learning experience.
Anna Macdonald, a recent test prep student, praises iCollaborate for being “unique from other online meeting platforms,” highlighting a user’s ability to adjust and move video windows and to use multiple whiteboards simultaneously. Ultimately, Macdonald concludes that the “platform was really helpful in a tutoring setting.”
So, for those seeking a tutoring experience where both the teaching and the technology are personalized to improve how students and teachers connect with each other and with their lessons, then A+ and its iCollaborate platform are a perfect fit.
At A+ Test Prep and Tutoring, our practices are based on the latest developments in educational theory and research. We have an excellent team of tutors who can help you with standardized testing, executive functioning, or achievement in any other school subject. If you want to find out more about our services, our Client Service Directors Susan Ware and Joelle Faucette can be reached at 215-886-9188.