I run a “learning center” in San Francisco. (What do you call these places? Tutoring center? Test-prep center? Juku? School? Cram school?) My latest software research has me hunting for scheduling software so that we can efficiently and accurately get our schedules online.
I’d come across tutorpanel.com several times in the past (they seem to spend a bit of money on advertising). But I’d never taken the time to evaluate them simply because they require a sign-up and account creation, which is kind of a hassle when you’re not even sure whether the product offered even comes close to fulfilling the functions you need.
I have not done a comprehensive review of TutorPanel, but I did find out enough information to know what it’s not for me, and maybe this information will help others. So here it goes.
First, my goal is to find software that can generate schedules for on-site, live SAT prep classes, after-school tutoring, enrichment courses, and the like. Ideally, I’d like to be able to input information (start day, end day, start time, end time, holidays, etc.) and have an entire list of classes output in easily exportable format. In other words, I want to be able to embed my information on testmagic.com, facebook.com/testmagic, and other places as well, if necessary.
I created an account, which was fairly quick and painless, although the tutorpanel.com registration system did not accept my +tutorpanel.com email address; i.e., I was not able to use email@example.com; instead, I had to use firstname.lastname@example.org. (Many websites reject email addresses with + in them, even though it’s a perfectly valid character for an email address.) I then had to validate my email, after which I was ready to play with their dashboard.
First impressions: Nice, clean, intuitive layout. Lots of helpful tips and links to articles. For example, there was a link to an article about setting prices for classes on the pricing page.
My goal was to set up class simply to see what my scheduling options were. It was easy enough to do this, except the option to select “group” didn’t work—I got an error on the next screen with the “Group” option selected.
So I just created a summer-long class with one student in it, Pookie Riby (the offspring of the mother Eleanor Rigby). On the calendar-view page, I saw the option to export the information to a spreadsheet, so I tried that, too. For the sake of convenience, I created an online spreadsheet to display the data (to save you a step if you just want to see how it looks).
I played around with the system a bit, and realized that there was no option to take attendance, either. Nor did I even see a link to see all the classes that I could offer (e.g., Calculus, SAT Prep, Essay Writing, etc.).
So, I’ll be submitting a report to myself to pass on TutorPanel for our learning center and keep evaluating other options.
Summary of TutorPanel
Obviously, one of the first considerations anyone will make is whether they want to install and host software themselves or use a “cloud-based” service. Both have their pros and cons, but software-as-a-service is extremely helpful and convenient when it works and when it’s priced affordably. TutorPanel is relatively inexpensive. They have clear, simple pricing (Jan 2013 cost: $20 per month, plus $0.50 per active student).
The TutorPanel interface is clean and nicely designed.
If you’re a small-ish shop and do mostly private tutoring and you want to get something up and running quickly and inexpensively, take a look. But I’m going to be researching a few other tools, including Mimosa, the mighty, open-source Moodle (which we already use), the somewhat-clunky OpenSIS, SchoolTool (designed to run on Ubuntu), and the beautiful Fedena.
Here are some screenshots of the TutorPanel account pages: