Online Versus In-person Tutoring: A Practical Guide for Parents
Things to know (and what no one ever tells you) about online versus in-person tutoring.
Private online tutoring and in-person tutoring might not be as different from each other as some people assume. Working with a tutor online is a great way for students, especially those in Gen Y and Millennials, to connect with expert tutors in an environment that’s comfortable for them.
Online tutoring is a simple way for students and tutors to connect and work closely together. Students who need tutoring help right away, parents seeking an affordable, quality option, and teachers who enjoy teaching but dislike commuting are just a few of the people who prefer virtual learning. Often tutors charge less for online lessons simply because they don’t need to commute and those savings are passed directly on to the students. In addition, tutoring online offers a greater departure from the classroom setting than the in-person experience, which can enrich a student’s overall experience.
But what exactly is online private tutoring? At its purest, online tutoring is the real-time video interaction between a tutor and student. The online tutoring experience actually feels like you’re in the same room as it typically includes:
While online has the obvious time and cost-saving benefits already mentioned, some differences between the two types of learning are a little more subtle. Consider some often overlooked nuances between the online learning experience as it compares to in-person tutoring.
“At its purest, online tutoring is the real-time video interaction between a tutor and student."
Online tutoring is highly effective at challenging skills and behaviors that higher-level thinkers will use throughout their collegiate and professional careers, while also providing convenience and immediacy. When it comes to content knowledge, a good tutor will help make sure little is “lost in translation”.
What it offers: A quick path from searching for tutors to scheduling a lesson
How it helps: Being able to identify a need and then act on it over the course of an hour could make all the difference if you have a high schooler who’s on the fence with the idea of tutoring. Encouraging a student to try something new, especially school-related, can translate into hot and cold feelings that change by the day (or even the hour).
Online tutoring affords the quick turn-around and the ability to strike while the proverbial iron is hot.
What it offers: Integration into the web and the wealth of tools it offers
How it helps: Blending online and knowledge gathering tools with offline study habits can improve research skills and self-sufficiency. Searching, posing questions, and identifying the thought processes required to find answers are all at a student’s fingertips.
For younger students, it’s a good chance to improve computer fluency through repetition. A child gets to explore the types of computer functions that a more recreational use of technology doesn’t offer.
What it offers: Online tutoring can help students relax and improve their communication skills
How it helps: Higher level person-to-person skills can improve as students learn to interact with a tutor who isn’t physically sitting next to them. A student will necessarily have to use mostly verbal communication during an online lesson, so it can help shy students get a little more comfortable with speaking up.
Another positive effect is that students are more likely to ask for help. Research shows that communicating with teachers electronically is a preferred method for many students. Working with a tutor digitally lowers the emotional barrier and makes it easier for students to ask questions without feeling self-conscious.
What it offers: A chance to see a different perspective and work with the best tutors
How it helps: In the same way a traveling experience allows you to open your mind, there’s something to be said for working with a tutor in another part of the country. It can help your child broaden their thinking and get the chance to work with excellent tutors who just happen to live in other parts of the country. his is equally if not more true when it comes to language learning (provided pronunciation is an area of higher proficiency).
Also, with online tutoring, you get more choices in who tutors you. If you live in a less developed part of the country or want help with a highly specialized subject, it’s much easier to find an expert private tutor when you expand your search to online tutors.
Putting a Gen Y student in front of a screen (to their long-term benefit) might seem like a no-brainer. In some cases, it can be. But when it comes to foundational skills, it’s good to consider what working in the same room provides for emotional development.
What it offers: A higher sensitivity to non-verbal communication
How it helps: Tutors can use visual cues to pinpoint how students work through problems and mistakes, making in-person more responsive to improving foundational skills.
Meanwhile, person-to-person skills improve (in a different way than they do for online). For students not used to dealing with adults, it’s an uninhibiting environment for working on their fundamental communication skills. These can include everything from making eye contact to learning how to maintain personal space.
What it offers: Enhanced senses and space for engaging students
How it helps: Having the full spectrum of senses and motion to explain information means tutors can explore unique ways to engage learners. A good example is students who don’t take to normal classroom behaviors, but make significant strides with out-of-the-box methods that incorporate movement or more hands-on styles.
This sensitivity also allows tutors to translate their own enthusiasm around a subject, and pass it on to students.
What it offers: A less cluttered learning environment
How it helps: The temptation of other websites and screens can make or break a lesson for students who are sensitive to stimuli or have trouble focusing. When at the root of a student’s struggles, in person can be a much more effective way to build concentration and focus. Using non-verbal cues and a student’s body language helps to more quickly identify issues and re-direct attention.
Keep in mind that learning styles, maturity, and academic progress all have a bearing on the effectiveness of online tutoring. More importantly, working with a tutor online and in-person are so not so much mutually exclusive, as they are ways to ensure a consistent and well-rounded tutoring experience.
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