If you asked me in February 2020 whether I thought online tutoring could be as effective as in-person tutoring, I would have confidently said ‘no’, and I would’ve been completely wrong. Online tutoring, when done extremely well, has compelling upsides that are difficult for in-person tutoring to compete with.
The advantages of online tutoring range from the predictable to the surprising. Let’s explore!
Convenience & Flexibility
In the ‘before times’, students’ tutoring schedules were often dictated by when they could get a ride. Now, students and parents can save valuable hours that would have been spent commuting. Furthermore, students can log in from anywhere in the world, so a trip to visit colleges doesn’t have to interrupt SAT prep, and a snow day won’t prevent your student from being prepared for their math test. With online tutoring, your student is just a click away from receiving personalized support.
Dynamic Teaching Tools
When we first switched to online tutoring in March of 2020, we were learning on the fly. We did a lot of screen sharing, and we experimented with a range of different whiteboard tools. After doing our due diligence, we committed to using a tool called Miro. When combined with Zoom, Miro empowers tutors to create vibrant learning environments for students.
Now, rather than simply sharing screens, annotating on Zoom, or holding math questions up to the camera, students and tutors log in to the same whiteboard each week and engage with materials together. The tutor and student can follow each other’s work on the board, and students can even add content in-between their tutoring sessions. My students regularly upload snapshots of textbook pages or worksheets with questions they want to go over together. In addition to helping us be more effective in our sessions, the ability to park problems for later review helps reduce students’ stress, because they know that their tutor will help them to make sense of the material when they next meet.
A Permanent, Personalized Resource
Another benefit of online tutoring with Zoom and Miro is that students now have an easy-to-navigate permanent archive of all the work they have done in-session, which provides a fantastic study tool. Students can review their notes before a big test, while SAT and ACT students can return to Qs they’ve missed in the past to make sure that they feel fresh on each topic on Test Day. Enhanced with digital tools like post-its, stickers, and emojis, a well-designed whiteboard draws students’ attention to essential reminders.
Many in-person tutors eventually learn to read – and write! – upside-down so that they don’t have to keep flipping the student’s work around. With a shared whiteboard, both student and tutor are able to view the material from the same perspective while retaining the ability to navigate autonomously, making for more seamless interaction with the material. This enables tutor and student to work on the same content simultaneously, and when students have the agency to interact with the whiteboard, they take a sense of ownership. Their tutor isn’t simply showing them what to do. The student is actually doing it.
Engaging Group Classes
As a teacher who thrives on the energy of a busy classroom, I was most surprised to discover that group classes can be more engaging and dynamic than in-person classes. The combination of polls, chats, and Kahoots help each student have an active learning experience while the instructor can gauge student comprehension and adjust the lesson on the fly.
Real-time polls keep students engaged while also allowing them to answer questions anonymously. The results then highlight the types of mistakes students are most prone to make, and it can be helpful for students to see that other people had the same thought process as them. Polls also create a sense of accountability by requiring students to be active participants throughout the class, and the instructor can tell when a class is struggling with a concept and needs further review.
The chat allows students to communicate directly with the instructor so that they can ask clarifying questions or indicate that they are confused without embarrassing themselves, and the instructor can then respond seamlessly, addressing students’ questions without interrupting the flow of the class. The chat also helps students to feel a sense of connection with the instructor because they are able to engage in a one-on-one dialogue even though they are in a group class.
Online games like Kahoot! add a fun and lightly competitive element, and they are fantastic for making sure that students develop essential skills, such as the ability to quickly recognize question types or identify correct punctuation usage. These games break up the class and set a fun, fast-paced tone while reinforcing students’ learning.
The Right Approach for Your Student
While I have become a strong proponent of thoughtful online tutoring, it’s not the right choice for every student. Whether your student thrives in an engaging online session or learns better when they are in-person, sitting across the desk from their tutor, Open Door cultivates meaningful coaching relationships that support sustained success. To learn more about how your student can benefit from online or in-person tutoring, contact us today.