The sudden pivot to online learning and distance teaching during the dramatic pandemic lockdown in March 2020 sent students and professors to Zoom sessions on laptops in spare rooms instead of face-to-face gatherings in university classrooms. While some managed to maintain their progress, others, confronted with a new way of learning and instructing, struggled amid unforeseen challenges.
Arya Rashidian saw a business opportunity during the pandemic pandemonium that has little to do with his advanced degree—he’s a recent graduate of the Master of Political Science program at the Schar School of Policy and Government—or his George Mason University undergraduate studies in criminology, with a minor in intelligence analysis. He is the CEO of TutorDudes, an online learning platform that connects students with tutors who are compatible with their learning styles.
“I don’t know about you,” Rashidian said, “but it’s very hard to learn computer science on a video. You don’t get that same interaction with a professor. Even if you are a political science student, you are dealing with a lot of philosophical questions and heavy policy making and you need more assistance to help make difficult decisions.”
TutorDudes, along with are designed to suit subscribers’ specific needs, individual students or companies, he said. Clients go to the website and choose the tools and tutor “based on the style of learner they are.” He said mildly autistic students can be accommodated as well.
While the service is underway and accepting clients, “new features are being added to make sure TDULTRA is being crafted with a variety of tools for the student and faculty to really engage and teach,” Rashidian said.
Rashidian said he was assisted early in the development of the platform with Mason’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the Mason Innovation Exchange (MIX), and the University Career Services office, including making internships available for degree credit.
“We had a lot of Mason students come on board” as interns, he said. “I made sure to give them interesting opportunities to learn different tools they could use to succeed. And we learned from the students because interns always brought in a fresh perspective.”
The student interns included Saira Amjad, chief financial officer; Folabomi Bolarinwa, chief technology officer; Imtiaz Ahmad, TDULTRA chief technology officer; and Yuching Hsieh, chief operating officer.
At this point in the business’ development, Rashidian said he would like the Mason Nation to continue assisting the development of TutorDudes, particularly because his team is a small one.
“I’m very proud of the work we’ve done, and I’d like Mason to be informed about TutorDudes, and TDULTRA to inform their friends and families that might be interested in the service.”