Professional Development | News

Gates Foundation Funds Research for Math Teacher Training

A company that provides online tutoring services has received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to create an on-demand professional development system specifically to train middle school and high school math teachers. will be developing the program to research the effects of connecting math teachers to an online teaching coach for private help in a Web-based classroom whenever they need additional support. A third-party evaluator will then design and complete a study to measure the effectiveness of the project. This research is scheduled to be published at the end of 2012.

The company said it will work with school administrators and classroom teachers to identify the specific areas of focus for the program. One-to-one sessions may include working on deeper understanding of curriculum content, mastering teaching techniques, or reviewing and refining lesson plans to achieve better results. The idea is to integrate the lessons into a teacher's work day to provide ongoing support as he or she needs it.

The professional development will be tied to the use of's tutoring services for the students in that teacher's classes. Students will be able to connect to online tutors for personal assistance with homework or studying for an exam. The environment provides an online classroom with an interactive whiteboard, application and file sharing, and co-browsing. Sessions are saved and available to teachers for review. Teachers will then be able to receive summary reports to better understand what topics in the curriculum are most difficult for the students.

"Over six million times, our online tutors and technology have helped students overcome their challenges with on-demand one-to-one help," said CEO George Cigale. "We now have the opportunity to offer educators a new model for teacher support, which could influence professional development practices and impact classroom teaching for the coming decades." is seeking school districts that want to be considered as candidates for participation in the program. More information is available at

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.