I’m Dr. John Leddo, Chief Executive Officer and founder of Education Online. I am an educational psychologist with a PhD from Yale University and have nearly 30 years of professional experience. I have nearly a decade of experience in the tutoring business (I am also co-owner of MyEdMaster, a tutoring company) and have personally tutored over 1000 students face-to-face. I’ve learned how they learn, what mistakes they make, and how best to teach them. I’ve helped them raise their academic performance and excel on SAT, ACT, GRE, SSAT, and other standardized tests. Students who study with me typically boost their SAT scores by hundreds of points. I’ve consulted with them on college plans and applications and helped them get into top colleges like those in the Ivy League, Stanford, MIT, Duke, University of Chicago, Carnegie Mellon, guaranteed medical programs, and top state colleges such as UC Berkeley and the University of Virginia.
I have developed and published curriculum that has been used in thousands of classrooms across the country. I have consulted with school districts, helping them develop curriculum and assessment frameworks. My greatest success story is helping Point Pleasant Schools in New Jersey go from bottom performing to becoming one of the top performers in the state of New Jersey. I have developed programs for schools that led to very large increases in student performance. I have more than 40 conference presentations and publications in scientific journals, some of which I list below. My number one specialty is creating artificial intelligence-based software that tutors students as effectively as human tutors do. In fact, I have been developing such software for 25 years and 100% of my field trials have produced large educational gains in students.
I am telling you about all of these accomplishments so that you will see that I am well qualified to help your child succeed. I started Education Online because it is my dream to find a way to help all children succeed in life and do so in a way that does not create financial burden on their parents. I am so committed to helping your child that, if you have any questions, you can call me directly at 800-763-9133. However, if you don’t mind reading a little more, I would like to tell you my story of how I came to have my dream of helping children succeed and how I’ve spent the last four decades making this dream a reality.
I come from humble beginnings. I was raised by a single mom and spent much of my childhood living in a single bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, NY. Fortunately, there were several teachers in my family where an education was always valued as a priority. When I was in my last year of junior high school (the precursor to today’s middle schools), I received a full scholarship to study at Phillips Exeter Academy, a very prestigious New England prep school. While I was there, I was on the same track team as the grandson of the emperor of Thailand and I made friends with the son of the United States’ United Nations ambassador. These were the types of kids who went to that school.
One of the things that impressed me most about Exeter was the fact that the students expected to succeed in life. They felt that they were entitled to achieve big things. That was a new experience for me. I graduated Exeter with my goal of helping all children feel that they could achieve anything they wanted to in life and to have that same high quality education that I was fortunate to receive.
As a 17 year old high school graduate, I didn’t know how to go about achieving such a lofty goal. I decided to major in psychology in college so that I could better understand how people learn and how to teach them. I wound up graduating from Yale University with a PhD in Psychology. At Yale, I was fortunate enough to have as my PhD advisor Dr. Robert Abelson, who was not only a leader in the field of psychology, but also a pioneer in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), which focuses on getting computers to perform cognitive tasks the same way people do. This training in AI became a critical component in the Education Online approach and EOL would not be possible without it, although I had no idea at the time just how important this training would be. I am truly grateful to Dr. Abelson for taking me on as a student and giving me the intellectual foundation upon which EOL is built.
After Yale, I took a job in the Washington, DC area working for a small research company. One of my early projects was leading a research team that was studying what makes someone an expert and how experts solve problems. One of the things that impressed me the most was that every expert I studied told me that s/he didn’t learn how to become an expert from his or her schooling. Rather, this was something that was learned on the job after 20 or more years of experience. The other interesting thing was that not everyone became an expert just because he or she had a lot of experience. This seemed too hit or miss to me. There needed to be a way to insure that anyone could become an expert, not just the ones who figured out how to do so on their own.
I figured that if I had learned a lot about what makes experts know what makes them the best at what they do, why couldn’t I come up with a way to teach others to have that kind of knowledge? So I created an educational framework based on the research I had done. Then, I needed a way to deliver this teaching method on a wide scale. I knew if I had to teach people personally, there would be a limit to the number of people I could help. I need a solution that could reach millions of people.
This is where my training in artificial intelligence(AI) paid off. In the 1980’s a new field of AI emerged called intelligent tutoring systems. It had long been known that 1 to 1 tutoring was highly effective. Teaching students on an individual basis what they need to learn, at the pace they could learn, produced large educational gains. The goal of an intelligent tutoring system is to emulate a human tutor and provide the same 1 to 1 instruction by analyzing a student’s work, determining what concepts a student knows and reasons behind his or her mistakes and then teaching the student what s/he needs to know in order to master the subject matter.
In 1988, I received my first project to build an intelligent tutoring system. The next year, I started Research Development Corporation, so that I could build the intelligent tutoring system technology needed to carry out my life’s dream. At Research Development Corporation, we received millions of dollars in projects to develop intelligent tutoring systems for both traditional K-12 education and adult training. Each time we built a system and field tested it, we found that students showed large educational gains. We even found, in a project sponsored by the National Science Foundation, that our technology was as reliable as experienced teachers in assessing student learning needs and performance against state educational standards.
By the mid 1990’s, the World Wide Web had taken off and the dot.com boom began. This was the final piece of the puzzle: a medium to deliver tutoring to the world. We began implementing our tutoring technology on the web. By the early 2000’s, we completed our research, development, and testing of our core technology. Our technology was ready to be the backbone of an online tutoring service that would provide the same sorts of services that commercial tutoring companies provide, but at a fraction of the cost.
In order to make the transition from a research company to a tutoring services company, I first wanted to gain more experience in running a commercial tutoring service. In 2004, I joined a small, but growing tutoring company as its Director of Education and Director of Marketing. I was amazed at the prices being charged, with families often signing tutoring contracts for $4000 to $6000 and even taking out 15 year Sallie Mae student loans to pay for the tutoring. Most students would leave after the initial contract was over since the families couldn’t afford to keep paying those prices. However, the company made a lot of money from its services. Each tutoring center earned enough profits each year to pay for the opening of another tutoring center and the company was able to double the number of its centers each year I was there. By the time I left, the company had about 110 centers, up from 14 when I joined.
In 2009, I started a tutoring company with a wonderful partner, Sagar Yerramsetti. It is called MyEdMaster. We charge about half of what other companies charge and our profits are much lower. This venture has allowed me to better understand how to deliver high quality tutoring that meets the needs of students and parents. As a result, with the help of investment of some retired Washington Redskins football players and other investors as well as me investing my own lifesavings into the company, our team was able to complete its first product: tutoring for SAT math. We’ve since added an internship search service where your child can search for internships and summer jobs to boost his or her college application. We’ve added a college consulting forum where I will personally answer questions about getting ready for and applying to college as well as offer my own thoughts on how your child can present the best possible application for admission to a top college. All of this is included in a low monthly price.
I have also been fortunate to have excellent people helping me develop the product. Dr. Ralph Farnsworth leads our team of curriculum developers. Before joining EOL, he was Director of Mathematics K-12 for Waltham Public Schools in Massachusetts. Dr. Zhixiong Zhang is my chief software architect and lead AI developer. He first started working with me at Research Development Corporation in 1996.
Your child’s education and future are very important. I have gone to great length to tell you the story of how EOL came to be so that you can see the expertise, hard work, and commitment that have gone into creating a high quality, low cost service to help your child succeed. Indeed, there are a lot of products and services out there to help your child with the SAT and college preparation. I invite you to carefully examine them. Look at the credentials of those who created the products. Look at the quality of what is being offered. Is your child just given content, or is there an analysis of the step by step work your child does and correction of your child’s mistakes? What other help is being offered to get your child into a top college? How much is that service charging? There is free content out there, but how much is that personalized to your child’s needs and mistakes? How much personalized consulting is being offered? All of the services I’ve seen that offer personalized attention cost far more than our service does. Many people have told me that I could easily charge more than the few dollars a month that we do. In fact, many have even told me that charging so little actually hurts our chances in the market because parents will assume that we charge so little because we aren’t any good. It may be true that I could charge more. I’ve seen other online software products cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars. However, charging more defeats my purpose of helping all children have better futures without hurting their families financially. A senior vice president of perhaps the leading tutoring company in America once told me about his company, “We charge these prices because we can. Parents have no choice. They have to come to us.” I never wanted to be the type of person who takes advantage of a parent’s love for a child as a way to grow rich. I wanted to be the person who gave the parents a choice.
I invite you to try our service. If you have any questions you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will get your email and I will respond. I have also set up a toll free number where you can call me directly and I will be the one answering the phone. The number is 800-763-9133. I will also give you a 100% money back guarantee. If your child completes all of our practice sets and tests and doesn’t raise his or her SAT math score by 100 points or get at least 700 on the SAT math section, I will refund all of the SAT Test Prep monthly fees that you paid to Education Online.
Here are some of the publications and conference presentations I told you about.
Leddo, J. Using Intelligent Tutoring System Technology to Create Interactive Television. Proceedings of the Children of the Digital World Conference, Oslo, Norway, 2001
Leddo, J., Zhang, Z. and Pokorny, R. Automated Performance Assessment Tools. Proceedings of the Interservice/Industry Training Systems and Education Conference. Arlington, VA: National
Training Systems Association, 1998.
Leddo, J. A Methodology for Selecting Appropriate Technology to Meet Learning Objectives. Proceeding of Educational Multimedia Conference ’98. Charlottesville, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education, 1998.
Leddo, J. A Methodology for Selecting Appropriate Technology to Meet Learning
Objectives. Proceeding of Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education ’98.
Charlottesville, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education, 1998.
Leddo, J. Intelligent Tutoring Simulations. Proceedings of the Spring ’98 Simulation
Interoperability Workshop. Orlando, FL: Simulation Interoperability Standards Organization,
Leddo, J. and Kolodziej, J. Distributed Interactive Intelligent Tutoring
Simulation. Proceedings of the Interservice/Industry Training Systems and Education
Conference. Arlington, VA: National Training Systems Association, 1997.
Leddo, J. and Kolodziej, J. The virtual schoolhouse. Proceedings of the Interservice/Industry Training Systems and Education Conference. Arlington, VA: National Training Systems Association, 1997.
Leddo, J. A Virtual Schoolhouse: Creating On-Line Resources for School. National Association of Secondary School Principals Bulletin, 1997, 81, 39-45.
Leddo, J. A Virtual Schoolhouse. Computers in the Social Studies Journal, 1997, 5(4).
Leddo, J. A virtual schoolhouse for educational resources. Proceedings of ED-MEDIA/ED-TELECOM 97. Charlottesville, VA:Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education.
Leddo, J. Internet-based intelligent tutoring games. Proceedings of ED-MEDIA/ED-TELECOM 97. Charlottesville, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education.
Leddo, J. A Virtual Schoolhouse. Proceedings of Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education ’97. Charlottesville, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education.
Leddo, J. Internet-based intelligent tutoring games. Proceedings of Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education ’97. Charlottesville, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education.
Leddo, J. An intelligent tutoring game to teach scientific reasoning. Journal of
Instruction Delivery Systems, 1996, 10, 22-25
Leddo, J. An intelligent tutoring game to teach scientific reasoning. Proceedings of Interactive Multimedia ‘96. Warrenton, VA: Society for Applied Learning Technology.
Leddo, J. An intelligent tutoring game to support open ended problem solving. In P. Carlson and F. Makedon (Eds.) Proceedings of ED-Telecom 96-World Conference on Educational Telecommunications. Charlottesville, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education, 1996.
Leddo, J. A knowledge assessment tool for diagnosing critical student learning needs. In P. Carlson and F. Makedon (Eds.) Proceedings of ED-Media 96-World Conference on Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia. Charlottesville, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education, 1996.
Leddo, J. Techniques allow educators to assess what students really know. Counterpoint, 1996, 16, 9.
Leddo, J. and Gang, K. Learners as designers in a real-world problem solving context. Presented at the Virginia Middle School Association Conference. March, 1996.
Leddo, J. and Gang, K. Integrating standard setting, assessment, instruction, technology, and staff development. Presented at the Virginia Middle School Association Conference. March, 1995.
Leddo, J. Assessing what students really know. Curriculum Product News. October, 1994.
Leddo, J. Did they learn anything?: Finding out with a knowledge assessment tool. Presented at the National School Board Association Technology and Learning Conference. October, 1994.
Leddo, J. Did they learn anything?: Finding out using knowledge elicitation techniques. Presented at the California Science Teachers Association Conference. October, 1994.
Leddo, J. and Sak, S. Knowledge Assessment: Diagnosing what students really know. Presented at Society for Technology and Teacher Education, March, 1994.
Leddo, J. and Cohen, M.S. Cognitive structure analysis: A technique for eliciting the content and structure of expert knowledge. Proceedings of 1989 AI Systems in Government Conference. McLean, VA: The MITRE Corporation, 1989.
Leddo, J.M., and Cohen, M.S. A cognitive science approach to elicitation of expert knowledge. Proceedings of the 1987 JDL Command and Control Research Symposium. McLean, VA: Science Applications International Corporation, 1987.