Cramming 2.0: InstaEDU Offers Students Last-Minute Help

There is a massive push to bring more and more learning online. From Khan Academy to Coursehero to online schools, the future of online learning is exciting. But there’s a new take on the current online learning model and it’s just gotten some major capital funding. More than a million dollars in funding, actually.

InstaEDU wants to be a last-minute (or anytime, really) tutor for students around the world. Basically, InstaEDU lets high school and college students pay a per-minute rate to have a live chat with an expert in the topic they’re working on. Their goal is to provide ‘instant answers’ to students who are in need of immediate help.

How It Works

Most of the tutors are, according to the website, from top universities. Various tutors are available 24-7 and students can simply log on and have their question answered by a live person. Once that student is satisfied, they hop off the site and move on. It’s like a video conference-based cheat sheet.

What It Costs

instaeduThis seems like a very helpful service as long as it’s used properly. However, the pricing structure does not exactly foster a learning environment.

Currently, the first 10 minutes are free and every subsequent minute costs you $0.50. The minimum session length is 5 minutes long which means you will use up your free time after just two tries.

With an emphasis on essentially paying for just the answers, it would actually cost students more money if they want to learn how they should come up with the answer on their own. It would seem like most students would want to just get the answer and jump off the call as soon as possible since they may have to spend another few bucks to ask another question down the line.

A different kind of fee structure could have different results, i.e., a monthly subscription with different levels of time allowed for each level. If there was less emphasis on per-minute fees, it would encourage students to get both instant answers but also want to spend the time to actually, well, learn. Economics and business modeling here will win out; it will either work, or it won’t, and they’ll likely revise it to meet consumer demand.

A Look At The Future

It’s not all bad. In fact, the platform that InstaEDU is developing (recently supercharged by $1.1 million in funding) will be a powerful tool for any struggling student. It would not at all be surprising if a place like Khan Academy or the Gates Foundation acquires InstaEDU once the platform is mature and the user base is steadily growing.

The fact that there are already companies working to occupy niches in the education technology space makes me smile. The edtech world is getting more crowded with quality tools and services. We’ll be sure to keep an eye on InstaEDU as it grows and evolves (just like Edudemic!).

How To Become A Tutor

If you’re looking to do some online tutoring, InstaEDU is hiring. You have to use Facebook to sign in but if you’ve got what it takes… it could be fun. Just let us know about your experience!

1 Comment

  1. Alison Johnston

    May 31, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    Jeff, thanks for checking out InstaEDU! It’s interesting that you saw the site as being answer-driven, as opposed to learning-driven.

    We’re very much trying to be a tool for students who actually want to learn the material, and we try to convey this to our students and tutors as much as possible. (Ethics aside, in most cases students can find the answers to problems just by Googling, so there’s no reason they’d want to pay for that.) We believe the main value that we can add is helping anyone connect with an awesome and intelligent tutor exactly when they need something explained.

    You made a good point about subscription models and that’s something we’re definitely interested in adding in the future. I’d love any other feedback from you and your users!

    Best,
    Alison @ InstaEDU