Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, online tutoring has grown in popularity. Students and educators on a global scale have become increasingly dependent on digital learning in an unprecedented way. While digital learning, also known as e- or online learning, initially brought many challenges to the way students learned and how educators taught content and delivered materials - it paved the way for an exciting new method of education. However, many parents and guardians are still hesitant to enrol their children in online tutoring programs due to the thought that tutoring services offered online are of less quality than face-to-face tutoring – this is a misconception.
This article seeks to clarify one of the biggest misunderstandings regarding online tutoring and help parents and guardians make a more informed decision when choosing a tutor.
Online tutoring commonly involves the use of video conferencing software such as Zoom, Skype and Google Meet. These types of software make real-time communication between students and tutors possible. Both parties require microphone and webcam functionality as well as a stable internet connection to allow sessions to run smoothly online. Many tutors also choose to make use of an online whiteboard, which supports text and drawing tools and allows documents to be shared and uploaded easily. Learning materials and concepts can then be presented in a quick and hassle-free way, just like in a classroom.
Let’s first cover the disadvantages of online tutoring and then move on to discuss how the benefits far outweigh the few downsides to e-learning.
Numerous subjects can be tutored online such as English, mathematics, science, technology, languages as well as human society and its environment. However, one subject that would prove quite difficult is music, as an online environment would make it tricky for a tutor to provide guidance and explain musical techniques to a student. Thus, a face-to-face tutor would best provide music lessons.
Another downside to online learning is that young students may learn less effectively than older students, due to their short attention spans and being easily distracted. However, this can be counteracted by assigning young students short and focused tutoring sessions to improve their overall confidence levels, and reducing the amount of content they are to learn in any one given session.
One of the main advantages of online tutoring is how flexible and convenient the sessions can be, especially for busy families that can’t afford to commit their time to travelling long distances. Due to the online nature of these sessions, there is no need for parents/guardians to travel to the tutor’s location nor is there any requirement to accommodate a tutor in their home. With online learning, many tutors are flexible with session scheduling and are happy to accommodate students’ requests to be tutored before or after school or even during the weekends. Students are generally more relaxed during online tutoring sessions, as they are comfortable and familiar with their surroundings. This leads to a better learning experience and an enjoyable educational session.
Another huge advantage of online tutoring is that students have access to a wide range of tutors from any location. Digital learning has removed the impact distance has on learning. Face-to-face tutoring limits the quality of the tutors to which students have access to, thus limiting their learning experience. Online tutoring removes the barrier of location and instead focuses on providing students with the best and most qualified tutors available. For example, students in rural or isolated locations are no longer disadvantaged because of where they live, now having access to a wide range of educational materials and experienced educators.
Online tutoring is usually more affordable than face-to-face tutoring. Tutors who run sessions online do not have to accommodate travel expenses and can offer their services at a lower price when compared to traditional in-person tutors. Thus, online tutoring is the cheaper option for parents/guardians who want to enrol their children in weekly tutoring programs without compromising on quality.
Yes. There should be no difference in the quality and experience of online tutors compared to that of face-to-face tutors. The only difference is the method by which they deliver the tutoring sessions. Online tutors receive the same training and education as face-to-face tutors, and in some cases, they are even more qualified. This is because online tutors must have the confidence and experience necessary to successfully teach and deliver content in a virtual learning environment. They must also be knowledgeable in how to keep student engagement levels high during the online sessions and must be able to identify when the student is feeling confused or unsure of the content they are supposed to be learning.
Anyone with an internet connection and access to a device with both microphone and video functionality can be tutored online. Most online tutoring providers allow students to answer questions via an online whiteboard or using paper, where screenshots of completed work can be uploaded during the session for the tutor to provide feedback on. Thus, online tutoring sessions can be adapted to suit students with different learning styles, as some students may be more comfortable with writing their answers using pen and paper whereas others may prefer using the online whiteboard.
Online tutoring sessions are not limited by age. Students as young as those in the foundation levels (Prep/Kindergarten) can be tutored online just the same as those in their final years of schooling. However, young students are more likely to be less attentive and may experience distractions. They may also be unwilling to complete the required work.
Now you are up to speed with the explanation as to why online tutoring should not be viewed as any lesser quality than face-to-face tutoring. Parents and guardians should choose their tutor (online or face-to-face) based on their children’s individual needs, their comfort level with online learning and the type of subject in which they need tutoring. They should also consider the costs and time commitments associated with face-to-face tutoring.