Online tutoring is becoming increasingly popular, and for good reason.
More students and parents are finding online lessons to be just as effective as in-person lessons, and as we’ve talked about before, online lessons have the added bonus of getting you to lessons faster while also offering a wider range of available tutors than you might find in your local market.
But in order to get the most out of your online lessons, it’s important to be prepared. With the right preparation and an open mindset, you’ll easily pick up the online details and tools that make communicating and organizing virtually a breeze.
Keeping in mind the key to mastering online tutoring is the same as it is for any other form of studying—a good system— we’ve gathered tips from expert tutors who specialize in online. Whether you’re the parent of a teenager, a college student, or a professional, these tips will help you quickly understand the tools available to you, and the steps for setting you or your child up for success.
1. Claim Your Study “Zone”
Estimated time: 15 minutes
The key here is a quiet space. Keep your laptop or desktop terminal in a quiet room without a TV, and preferably without a lot of traffic from other family members.
Once you’ve got your zone, what belongs in it? Besides the obvious (the computer - preferably with a mouse), grab a pen and notepad (dry erase or handheld chalkboards work equally well). At least 3 times an hour, you’ll need to make a note on the fly, whether it’s resources, follow-up tasks, or due dates. It might even be a question you want to ask later. Regardless, scratching it down is a great way to keep track of that info in the short-term, while not cluttering up the online space.
Once the notepad is in hand, set up your computer. This includes your charger, webcam, and headphones. Headphones might seem like a nice-to-have, but in a quiet environment, a pair of earbuds with a microphone is the only seamless solution for unexpected noise on either end of the line.
2. Eliminate the Clutter
Estimated time: 5-10 minutes
If you think ahead for the short and the long term, you can save yourself from the headaches and distractions that get in the way of success.
In the short-term, think of ways you can remove distractions while you’re taking your lesson. The biggest one is opening a new browser window with only one tab—the one you’ll work in. Turning off phones, tablet, and other distractions will also keep you from losing focus.
The next thing you can do is create a folder on your desktop for any attachments you need to upload during the lesson. Most likely, you’ll be scanning course materials, textbook pages, or assignments. This makes them easy to find without wasting time or risking unnecessary interruptions.
Think long-term by coming up with a system for organizing the documents you during lessons so you won’t be pulling your hair out when you come back to review these materials two weeks or even two months later.
The real key is to name attachments clearly (and consistently), whether they are class materials or exported boards, so you do not have to waste any time later. So how do you do that?
Set up your files so each lesson has its own folder. You can segment your work and have it be easily accessible when you need to find it.
3. The Final 15
Estimated time: 15 minutes
After the lesson, take one last pass at organizing any exported images and files from the lesson. A quick minute at the end saves ten searching later.
Finally, before you shut down, look over your notepad. Schedule any due dates into the calendar, and ensure you have all of the right information on what you should be doing, and preparing for, next lesson. It’s best to be on top of it while the information is still fresh in your mind.
If you need to, email your tutor with any questions and avoid a last-second scramble.
They may seem like small details, but having a routine, and being diligent about it makes the time spent in online lessons even more effective. Be open about this routine with your tutor. Having them in the loop is the best to improve upon your system, help them to understand how you work and also avoid the type of lapses that could work against your goals.