Although online tutoring has been around for a while, many students (and their parents) haven’t yet caught on to the possibility of meeting with a tutor virtually, let alone come to recognize its benefits. Once the idea moves from the realm of theory to the realm of actuality, however, attitudes generally change from skepticism and incredulity to enthusiasm and appreciation.
Much like telecommuting and virtual commerce for other businesses, online tutoring provides a number of distinct advantages that not only make it competitive with in-person tutoring, but actually superior in many cases. Here are a few of them.
Geography isn’t a limitation for online tutors, and neither, generally, is time. If you’ve ever tried to deal with the restrictions of finding a tutor who is local, proficient in the subject you need help in, and can meet according to your schedule, you should be able to appreciate this immediately. Once you remove the restrictions of geography, time zones, and commuting, finding the right tutor for your needs suddenly becomes a lot easier.
The corollary of availability is selection. Rather than praying to get lucky enough to find a single tutor who meets your criteria and can work with you, when searching for online tutors you are much more likely to have a selection to choose from, which allows you to be discriminating. In addition, the broader selection also affords you the benefit of working with multiple tutors who specialize in different areas, enabling you to choose tutors who are experts in the specific areas where you need help.
The corollary of selection is value. Being able to discriminate means that tutors have to rely on merit rather than scarcity to win your business, and you don’t have to settle for second (or third) rate. It puts you in the driver’s seat when tutors have to compete for your business, rather than the other way around.
Add into the mix the convenience of being able to meet with a tutor without having to leave your house (or your dorm room). If you insist on having a face-to-face meeting with a tutor, then one of you is going to incur the expense of travel time and fuel costs, and unless you happen to find an exceptionally altruistic tutor, chances are it will be you. Plus, leaving the house (or having a visitor) generally means you have to change out of your jammies.
Convenience assumes that you have a choice, but what if you don’t actually have any options for local tutoring? For some, making the decision to seek tutoring online may mean the difference between getting help and not.
Often people who haven’t experienced online tutoring fear that the technology will be a hindrance, but in many ways it is an advantage, especially for young people who are used to chatting on skype and not intimidated by new software. When sessions are online they are easily recorded for future reference, and a good tutor will make use of technology for illustrative purposes by using photos, animations, drawings, and diagrams. Not to mention there are resources readily available that wouldn’t be if you were sitting across a table (Wikipedia, anyone?).
At MyGuru, we have a “Premium” WebEx account – www.webex.com, which allows us to:
- Write on a virtual whiteboard
- Share our screen with students
- Record sessions for later viewing by the student – we find this to be a powerful feature
- Upload files
- Participate in audio, video, and text chat during the session
We’re also performed online tutoring using Skype, Join.me, and are currently testing a new platform called Snapclass.
The technologies available today allow online tutoring to mimic in-person tutoring to a surprising degree.
To be honest, we are amazed that online, 1-1 tutoring isn’t used more often. One factor not mentioned above is cost - when a great tutor doesn’t need to travel to a session, he or she is often much more likely to charge less per hour.
What have been your experienced with online tutoring? Would you, or have you, tried it?
Please visit the Online Tutoring page of our website to learn more and to request a tutor near you!