Quick review of TutorPanel

TL;DR: TutorPanel is nicely laid out, and has a ton of features for the right company or person. It looks to be better-suited for tutoring centers that specialize in live, one-to-one tutoring rather than live group classes. There’s no demo, but registration is fast and free, so you don’t have much to lose to check it out.

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 myname+tutorpanel.com@example.com; instead, I had to use myname@example.com. (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.

Screenshots

Here are some screenshots of the TutorPanel account pages:

 

7 Comments

  1. Hi Erin,

    I work for TutorPanel — so thanks for taking the time to write a review about TutorPanel! TutorPanel is designed mainly for companies that do private tutoring, but it also supports small-group tutoring as well — although, as you found out, it isn’t designed for scheduling open classes.

    I just wanted to point out a couple things that you may have missed. When scheduling a session, selecting the group option displays a check box list of students, but if you haven’t created any students none will appear.

    This tutorial video shows how to take attendance: Reconciling Sessions. The reconciling process lets tutors mark whether the session was attended, canceled or missed; enter public and private lesson notes about the session; and optionally email the public notes to the student and/or parents. It also automatically tallies tutor hours/wages and client hours/fees — which is a real time-saver.

    Thanks again for the thoughtful review and let me know if you have any other questions.

    • Hi, Jeff. Good to get feedback from an insider. I’ll review your comments carefully and update my post accordingly. My first step will be to add a few students and parents into the system to play around with.

      The system looks like it could be helpful for tutoring centers that specialize in one-to-one classes, or small-group tutoring, as you mentioned.

      On a related note, I have an information request in with Rediker, one of the (expensive) giants in the field to see what they can offer. They seem to focus on large public and private schools, so I’m not incredibly optimistic, but I’m sure their pricing model will be substantially less attractive (I’ve seen that Rediker costs $10,000 or more at the very least).

      Best,

      Erin

    • Thank you for writing this review. I guess all tutoring centers are looking for a little something different. When I came across TutorPanel, I thought I’d finally found the perfect software. But one feature has me baffled and kept me from even trying it. Instead of color coding the services (ACT, math tutoring, etc)like most software, TutorPanel color codes the tutors. I’ve been in business for over 10 years and have had a couple hundred tutors. Tutors come and go, and sometimes return, so how can that possibly work? Hundreds of colors??? Having your providers across the top of the schedule and being able to look at the day and see which appointments are math, ACT, biology, etc. is so simple and efficient.

  2. Thanks for this review Billy. There are not enough reviews like this around for class/ tutor management systems.

  3. Wow tyat waѕ strange. I just wrote ɑn really lolng comment
    but after I clicked submit my comment diԀn’t show up.
    Grrrr… well I’m not wwriting all that over again. Anyhow, just wantedd to say excellent blog!

  4. Had so much trouble with the previous SEO company, been researching it myself
    and next time we are going to employ a junior to have a go
    Added to StumbleUpon, someone will like it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *