Tutoring app expected for SMC

It started with a horrible tutoring experience. Okky Jaya, Santa Monica College business major and Associated Students director of student advocacy, who hails from Indonesia, enlisted a tutor to help him with his English.

"The tutors expected me to know English, and I didn't know when I had errors, because they sometimes didn't tell me," said Jaya.

That is when the idea of Collegian, a phone app where students can order a tutor in any subject, among other services, was born.

The app would also feature a book exchange program and ride-finding service.

Jaya proposed the idea to the AS and President Ty Moura, who thought it was a good idea and initiated the committee of technology, of which Jaya became commissioner.

With the support of the AS, Jaya and computer science majors Hilal Habashi and Mojarad Ali developed the app.

Ali has the job of coding the app. AS director of activities Mathew Nicholson was recruited for taking care of the business side, and Alex Abramoff was brought on for marketing. SMC student Sakib Kahn was also brought on for business and marketing.

The app was created to save students money by facilitating access to cheaper tutors. A tutor from University of California, Los Angeles or University of Southern California can charge $30 or more per hour to receive one-on-one tutoring. With the app, students can access tutors that charge "maybe $10 per hour," Jaya said.

A fraction of the money would go to the department that the tutoring was for.

"It's for students who need money for other stuff," Habashi said.

"I'm going to need it; my books were $700 this semester," said computer engineering student Anil Rayamaghi.

The app would be linked to the student's SMC email account, Habashi said. Collegian would be free for SMC students, and they could log in from their phone or any computer.

Habashi mentioned the difficulties students sometimes face when seeking tutoring help in the math lab.

"They only solve one problem, and you have to get back in line again," he said. "There's not enough one-on-one."

The app would display the names of tutors and ratings given by students, which rank how well they explain the material and how well students felt prepared for the exams.

Students would be able to find tutors by adding class section numbers, and then choosing the tutor suitable for their particular class.

Using the school's databases, found in the library, may cause some delay. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act that protects the privacy of student records is part of the reason.

"But we came up with an alternative," Habashi said.

Creators of Collegian are considering a database retrieved from existing databases similar to PostYourBook.com, but are still working on obtaining permission from those sites.

Another alternative would be to "rely on computer user input," which means the student would sign onto a website separate from Corsair Connect, Habashi said.

"If you have a class with 120 students, you don't know everyone, but you can know who they are through the app," said Habashi.

Habashi expects a dummy of the site to be completed in December.

The project is looking for advanced web programmers and developers.

NewsTina EadyComment