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Online tutoring: 5 reasons it works well for students

There is sometimes a perception that online tutoring is somehow inferior to face-to-face tutoring. This may have been fair some years ago when Internet connections were slow and many tutors were inexperienced at teaching online. However, in today’s fast-paced, IT-driven environment online tutoring is interactive, engaging and extremely effective. I revolutionised my tutoring business when I learned to teach online 5 years ago and now I tutor online all over the world. My day starts at 9am online to Asia, moves to Europe in the afternoons and finishes in the UK in the evenings. I still teach face-to-face students, but I know that online tutoring can also produce outstanding results. Here are 5 reasons why online tutoring works well for students:

Online Tutoring is Interactive

Online tuition is more interactive.  Computer literacy and being online is second nature to young people and they usually get more involved with the lesson than they do face to face. As I am speaking to the student I can hear the keyboard clattering away as they make detailed notes, whilst messages and images pop up in the sidebar.

Using an interactive whiteboard such as BitPaper adds a whole new dimension to teaching, which simply isn’t available face to face.  Tutor and student can work together to create mind maps, essay plans, perform calculations, practice exam papers, learn to write the perfect exam answer – it’s enjoyable and because it’s interactive, students remember the information they need.  What’s more, unlike a face to face lesson, students can return to the whiteboard any time they like outside the lesson, and can download everything so they have an amazing set of notes. That’s a huge bonus compared to face for face.

I have one younger history student who made herself a PowerPoint presentation during her lesson recently. She included all the key dates and points as I was going through them. It was her idea, not mine, and it was great!  I sent across images of Tudor woodcuts as we worked and she made them into slides and annotated them in colour. She sent the presentation over to me before we finished the lesson and I was deeply impressed.  Importantly, because she was working actively she has remembered the content.

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Adaptable lessons

Online tuition is adaptable. How often do tutors carefully plan a session in advance only for the student to ask for something completely different? They may have been given an assignment to do at school and they are stuck. Maybe they have had marked work back from school that day and want to know why it is lower than their usual grade.  As an online tutor, this is much easier to deal with – all the resources are at the tutor’s fingertips and can be instantly shared with the student. This saves valuable lesson time being wasted as the tutor adapts to the new remit.

Students can upload their work in seconds and both can see it (and work on it) by sharing screens.  I have various tools to highlight, annotate or underline text, or to circle words and phrases.  So does the student.  This is a gift for teaching English.  In my online classroom, we have a virtual whiteboard, upon which we can both share ideas and essay plans. I also use a colourful, interactive mind mapping software with my students. I can comment directly on essays using Word online or Google docs. We can highlight tricky areas and I can spell difficult words in the sidebar. This also allows the tutor to suggest different ways of wording a section.

My students can practice a technique instantly and I can immediately see what they are doing and if they are going wrong.  This means that feedback is instant for the student. Together, we can immediately change their technique with me demonstrating and them practising.  We both have the web at our fingertips and can instantly share links, cut and paste, and collaborate. As a tutor, you have to be fast and adaptable, but it is a positive and effective learning experience for students.

Related: 7 ways to get the most out of online tutorials

Access to the very best tutors

Working online allows a student to get the very best tutor wherever they live. This is a bonus anywhere, of course, but for those students who live in rural areas or who are studying a niche subject, this can be the only way they can access an excellent tutor. In the rural area where I live students struggle to find good tutors for History of Art or Philosophy, for example, whilst trying to find a first-class Maths or Physics tutor as the exams approach is like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. Online tuition opens up wider opportunities for students and parents.

Online tutoring gives speedy progress

Online tutoring tends to move fast – we can get more work done and cover more ground in an hour than we can face to face. Partly, this is probably because online tuition doesn’t lend itself to long pauses, but I have also noticed that students’ attention doesn’t wander much online. Students tend to be very focused. Furthermore, if the tutor spots attention beginning to fade, or fatigue setting in, it is very easy to change it up when online. As long as you have a good camera and are sensitive to facial expressions, body language and tone of voice you can adapt very quickly. Online tutoring is quick moving.

Related: When is the right time to get a tutor?

Online tutoring can be recorded

One of the biggest advantages of online tuition I have left until last – we can record tutorials and send to the student afterwards, so they have a record of the work. If they can’t remember exactly what you said about a topic, they can replay the recording. For students this is a huge advantage, whilst any parent who wonders exactly how tutorials are going can watch it back too. This means that there are fewer safeguarding worries and good opportunities for quality control.

Online tuition is a different approach but it certainly isn’t second best. Done well, with a skilled online tutor, it can achieve excellent results.

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