In an age where Massively Open Online Courses have become the norm for teaching new skills remotely to hundreds at a time, Google is upping the ante with one-on-one digital tutoring.
Google has launched Helpouts, a service similar to Google Hangouts, except here the live chat takes place with an expert on demand. In sessions priced anywhere from free to $150, you can select and chat up an expert who will teach you about a topic in real time.
To launch the service, Google has started with more than 1,000 experts ready to provide Helpouts on cooking, fitness, health care and even how to set up your printer. And experts aren’t just individuals, but sometimes whole companies. Sephora is offering a makeup Helpout, and Rosetta Stone is offering language tutoring. Google also said it is checking the credentials of experts in the medical field. Google is also screening potential new experts and encouraging anyone who wants to give a Helpout to sign up for a screening.
At the same time as the web service, Google has also launched a Helpouts app, for one-on-one tutoring over the phone. Users must have a Google+ account to use the app, and all payments are managed through Google Wallet.
When we have services like eHow and even Google’s own search engine, why bother signing up for a what could be a for-pay tutorial? According to Udi Manber, Google's vice president of engineering, it’s a matter of precision.
"Sometimes all you need is facts, and that's fine. Sometimes you need somebody to look over your shoulder, somebody to show you the way," Manber said.
Image courtesy of Google.