Suddenly, everyone is having online tutorials. Although this may not have been your first choice of tutoring for your child, it is important to remember that it is the environmentally friendly option, with no fuel or emissions, no paper and no plastic ink cartridges being used. Of course it also alleviates any concerns about person-to-person infection. At the moment we are focused on coronavirus, but what about flu and colds in the winter? Suddenly you don’t have to worry any more.
Meeting your teacher online means that lessons can go ahead in bad weather conditions, such as snow or heavy rain, and that you can get access to a top tutor for your child no matter where you live. In an online world, you are no longer restricted to local tutors. If you want an AQA English Examiner to tutor your child – not a problem. A Cambridge International Examiner – yes that’s possible too. A Head of History from a top independent school- no problem. How about a tutor trained and experienced with SEN? Yes, can do. Suddenly your world has opened up once you learn online.
However, whilst more students of all ages are booking online tutorials, some lack confidence with online learning and are unsure of what they are supposed to do. So here are 7 tips to help you get the very best out of an online tutorial.
Get organised for online tutorials
1) Log onto the computer in good time. You want to get the most out of the session and you don’t want your child to feel rushed or stressed, so take time to get them comfortable and settled in before the session.
2) Understand which software your tutor will be using before the session. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for a demonstration of how it works. Tutors prefer different online tools and they work in slightly different ways. Skype remains popular and is arguably a good service since the recent upgrades. However, if you are not a regular user you will need a Skype account or ID to get started and your child will also need some time to get used to using the message bar, sharing screen, and sending files, links and images. Some tutors will be happy to give you a free demo before you begin lessons.
Other tutors may use different systems; I personally like Zoom but it operates in a slightly different way to Skype. I also use BitPaper heavily, as it gives students an excellent interactive experience. If you are unsure, ask your tutor to show you how it works and what is possible.
3) Have all the learning materials to hand. If they have textbooks, have them nearby . If they have something they want to share with their tutor, have it near you or upload it before the lesson. Whilst your child will probably type notes onto the computer during the session, or will be working on an interactive whiteboard with their tutor, having a notebook and pen handy can also be very helpful.
4) Have some water next to them. They may be talking for an hour (or longer) and it is thirsty work.
5) Experiment with using a headset during online tutorials, especially if your child will be somewhere with background noise. Headsets are not that expensive and a good set will enable them to hear their tutor more clearly, whilst the microphone will eliminate some of the ambient noise on the tutor’s end. If they have somewhere quiet to work, a headset isn’t necessary and it is a matter of personal choice
Work with your Tutor during online tutorials
6) For older children it helps to signpost your tutor verbally during online tutorials. A good tutor will be reading your child’s body language as well as facial expressions to judge if they have understood, if they need more time, or if they need to repeat what they just said. Online this is harder for the tutor. Older children can help them by telling them verbally what they are doing. For example, they may want to Google something or find a file to share with the tutor. Rather than just zoning out of the session to focus on the computer screen, they can signpost your tutor by telling them what they are doing.
Interestingly, since I first wrote this blog The Tutor Team has started working much more with Primary Children, and I have realised that young children are actually brilliant at signposting the tutor. Possibly better than many older people. The are not self conscious online, so happily sing out ‘just a minute I’m Googling it’ or similar, which helps the tutor no end.
Anyway, please help us out. I had a nasty moment once when I was explaining a difficult concept using my notes and looked up to find that the student had left! I was looking at an empty room. Luckily, it turned out the student had just gone to get some water, but there was a bad moment when I wondered if I had scared him off!
7) That brings me onto the final point – your child shouldn’t be worried about asking for a break if they need one. Online tuition can often be more intensive and your child will be working hard. They will probably be working actively during the session and concentrating hard. If they are working on a whiteboard the tutor is watching them work in real time and will be keeping them focused on the task, and many of our tutors use games with younger children too. That makes it fast and focused: I find I usually cover more ground with a student online.
It Gets Results
Online tutoring, done well with an experienced tutor, can be an extremely positive and rewarding experience for both student and tutor. It gets amazing results too and at The Tutor Team we are proud that 100% of our online students have passed their exams, and we see children steadily moving up levels. Remember that for today’s young people being on a screen is second nature to them. They are already adapted to it so this way of learning is playing to their strengths.
Why don’t you give it a go? Use these tips as a guideline to get the most out of your tutorials.