With all the advances in technology for students and tutors, many subjects can be taught just as effectively online as in person. Some can be taught even more effectively.
New tech make it incredibly easy for students and tutors to connect. Not only can they video chat in real-time—much like Skype or FaceTime—they can sketch out homework, use graphing functions and even conduct Google searches all within a single platform.
It's clear how online tutoring relates to the needs and learning style of a student. Another important consideration is the subject matter.
What makes a subject good for online tutoring? The most effective ones have some combination of the following:
- They enforce concepts specific to subjects over building foundational and study skills
- Student needs and/or struggles can be easily detected with facial or vocal cues (rather than body language cues)
- The majority of the workload and tasks are completed on the computer
If you’re considering online tutoring, here are a handful of subjects that make the most sense for starting with.
Similar subjects: Literature and vocabulary
The use of collaborative text tools makes it easy for tutors and students to work together in an online setting. The real power lies in a student being able to 1) watch a tutor making stylistic edits to a document and 2) co-reading in real-time.
This type of collaboration creates an open discussion on word choice and re-phrasing that a learner can easily reference when it comes time for their next writing assignment. And this can all be done more efficiently than by using a pen and paper.
Likewise, the foundations of writing—grammar theory and the writing process (researching, outlining, proofreading) can be easily conveyed online.
2. Higher-level Math and Science
Similar subjects: Accounting, economics, finance, physics, and chemistry
When it comes to learning higher level math and science, a shared whiteboard tool works wonders. Commenting features and undo buttons make working online a much cleaner experience, removing the inevitable clutter of handwriting and erase marks that can potentially cause students confusion post-lesson.
Perhaps a bigger perk of learning the sciences online is the way it reinforces students’ abilities to show their work. Not only are they expressing answers in handwriting, but also through a platform that makes them work out problems through the lens of a computer.
3. Test Prep
Similar subjects: Entrance and admissions exams
Test prep is a good fit when students need help on practice tests and/or to review question types and strategies. It can also work with less formalized test prep like upcoming mid-terms or finals where students need a brushing up on key concepts (and parents want the ease of scheduling).
Using online tools for test prep activities like working through question types makes for a more organized experience. Here’s why: Tutors have the ability to type instead of write. Clean type-fonts give them more room to work with. Even for those with good handwriting, making notes on hard copy practice tests can quickly get ugly. The “Delete” key is also an attractive tool for effective test review.
Similar subjects: Software and computer skills
Being on a computer is the natural environment when working with code, but using an online platform adds even more to the experience.
Tutors and students can quickly update and edit projects in real time, while sharing screens is a seamless way to point out errors, and more importantly, explain solutions for a student’s code. Much like writing, it provides a direct line into the mind of the tutor.
The concept-driven nature of history courses makes online just as good for retention of information when compared to in-person. It’s like being in a lecture where the student has access to not only open discussion lines with the teacher, but the world of information that the internet provides.
What only makes it better is the fact that online history tutoring feeds a student’s curiosity in a way that in-person might not: by placing both the tutor and student in front of a computer. And when that curiosity is met with an ability to answer relevant questions the student finds interesting, enthusiasm often follows. Not to mention, engaging them in the process of online research is great for enhancing executive function.
Learning languages online might seem counter-intuitive with the limitations imposed by computers and audio equipment. But those limitations only come into play when working on pronunciation.
When it comes to reading and writing and learning new vocabulary, online doesn’t miss a beat.
Some languages even offer a bonus of authenticity if you land a tutor living in a region where the language’s culture and history are rich. Imagine the enhancement to your child’s learning experience by learning French from a native speaker!
Online brings a lot to the table, and with a creative tutor and a willing student, it’s capabilities can stretch even further. When looking for a tutor, make sure to find someone who is open to using the full extent of the tool, and learning outside of when lessons take place. Once you find that, you’ll open up your options to an entirely new degree.