Online tutoring has been a popular option for many years – but how effective is it? What are the key differences between online and in-person tuition? Is it right for your child?
In the article below, one of Keystone's most experiened online tutors Alexander, answers parents’ most frequent questions about the advantages of online tutoring.
Quality online tuition
A teaching format – whether online, offline, class-based, one-to-one, written, or interactive – is only as good as the skills and the instructional strategy of the teacher using it. Keystone's professional tutors are trained extensively in how to tutor online, so that they can blend the opportunities of the format with their own expertise, and achieve a high quality outcome for their students. It’s also important to note that developing a working relationship online is straightforward – we’re all well versed in keeping in touch with friends and relatives online, and meeting online is now the default option in the workplace – so there doesn’t need to be any loss of rapport or engagement between a tutor and student who only meet online.
Some of the particular opportunities to enhance the quality of the tuition that the online format brings are:
- It’s much easier to find a tutor who is the right fit for your child, because you have a much broader range of tutors available to you than with offline tutoring
- It’s often easier for students to immerse themselves in online lessons, especially if they are using headphones
- Quick access to a wide range of online learning resources (including audio, video, PowerPoint etc) for both the tutor and the student
- Course materials can be updated much more easily online, including in response to current events or changes in exam curricula
- Tutors who primarily work online tend to have more time for regular, targeted training, and in addition because online learning is at the cutting edge of advancements and progress in education technology, these tutors tend to see the benefits of these advancements first
- It’s easier when learning online for the student to create their ideal working environment (lighting, temperature, seating, refreshments, ambient noise), which maximises their comfort and ability to concentrate
- All of the tools used in offline working, such as whiteboards or notebooks, are easily replicated online, and even handwritten work is easy to share using scanners or an emailed photograph from a smartphone
“Tutoring online using a virtual whiteboard provides students with a really valuable record of their work, class material and related resources that they can access anytime, anywhere.” Andy W, Keystone English tutor
Flexibility of online tuition
Outstanding tuition depends on a tutor’s ability to make use of their student’s distinct learning style – and it’s much easier to do this in online tutoring for a number of reasons:
- Online teaching tools lend themselves well to incorporating and customizing colour, audio, and video content for a student’s particular needs, something particularly important for students with special educational needs
- Lesson structure and layout can be much more readily personalised to suit, and it’s easier for students themselves to contribute to customizing these quickly and effectively
- ‘Shy’ students – those who are naturally more reticent, or more self-conscious in face-to-face conversations – may find it easier to thrive with online tuition, and have more options for communication than simply ‘speaking up’ – tuition can even work without video, if need be
- It’s much easier to arrange a variety of trial tuition sessions, to help find the tutor who can best fit your child’s style and needs
"What I enjoy most about tutoring online is the fact that you can work with students all over the world. It feels like it is more intimate - less distractions and the student has to be fully engaged. Our time is used more effectively - the full 60 minutes are used, rather than time arriving, settling down etc." Philippa C, Keystone 11+ and 13+ English and Maths tutor
The more interactive a learning experience, the more likely a student is to recall and integrate the knowledge they have gained. Online tuition lends itself to using interactive material, and to making use of different online tools and platforms to keep a student engaged with and curious about the topics they are mastering. There are additional benefits on this front, too:
- Students develop their technological skills by working online, and practice a way of working that will be increasingly utilized in their higher education and professional careers
- Online tutoring encourages autonomy in students, because they are partly responsible for making sure the lessons happen and that they have access to the online working environment
- With video calls a core part of online tuition, there is much more literal ‘face-to-face’ time than can sometimes be the case in offline classes
"Tutoring online is fantastic, as there are a wealth of resources at the click of a button, and great programmes which can be used to display, adapt and work with these resources.
There are plenty of methods to keep your student concentrating and to check on their progress, so online tutoring works with almost any age group.” Emily B, Keystone English and Spanish tutor
A core benefit of online tuition is the transparency it brings, ensuring that both the tutor and the students can review and learn from the work they have done and to more easily identify any gaps in understanding. Online tuition also provides parents with an enormous amount of transparency, allowing them to ‘look into’ the progress their child is making. Online tuition means that:
- It’s very easy to share school work, and to access previously completed work
- Setting, marking, and keeping track of homework tasks is straightforward
- All work completed online, not just tests or homework, is kept automatically, and can be reviewed by parents as soon as it is completed – including notes and whiteboards, and even schemes of work for entire academic years. Parents can also manage students’ Skype or Microsoft Teams accounts, and keep an eye on everything without disrupting tuition sessions
- Tutors at Keystone are also connected with one another via Microsoft Teams, making it much easier to share best practice and develop their professional skills
- Online home schooling is particularly adaptable, allowing for a team-led approach where everyone involved, from the Director of Education down to each individual tutor, is able to keep track directly of week-to-week activities
“With online tutoring there is easy access to resources: you are always only one or two clicks away from the best resources on the internet.” Greg, Keystone Maths tutor
Lastly, while the practical, logistical advantages of online tuition are obvious, they are significant and well worth bearing in mind. These include:
- The tuition can take place almost anywhere, at a time and location that suits the student, with no travel time required
- Lesson scheduling tends to be easier, especially during holidays – which is particularly useful for clients who are only looking for tutoring during the school holidays
- Lessons can be accessed from a wide range of devices, from desktop computers to laptops, smartphones, and tablets – which also means that when a particular piece of technology fails (eg Skype or Microsoft Teams drops out), there are always workarounds that tutors and students can use to keep disruption to a minimum
- Most children are already well used to the kinds of devices and platforms used for online tutoring – for these ‘digital natives’ online tuition will seem very familiar
These help to ensure that online tuition takes place without some of the disruption that travelling to a set location each week can bring, and can help some students to feel more comfortable than meeting face-to-face in an unfamiliar location.
"One of the things I like most about tutoring online is the freedom to work 1 to 1 with a child and ensure that the learning is precisely tailored to suit them. I also enjoy the fact that all the new and innovative learning resources and interactive learning activities being created can be used in our lessons.
Finally, I enjoy the flexibility of the online learning environment. My clients can log in to continue their lessons from anywhere in the world no matter if they've had to travel away from home.” Steph K-S, Keystone 7+ and 8+ tutor
The final verdict on online tutoring
Our last word on the subject is that Keystone has consistently seen the same levels of attainment from our online students as we have from the students we tutor in person – and with students from increasingly diverse backgrounds. It’s clear that, while it’s vital to find a tutor and a format that works for the specific needs of you and your child, online tuition is an incredibly effective option that brings unique advantages.
We hope this article has been a helpful read, and don’t hesitate to get in touch with us to discuss your child’s tuition needs with one of our experienced client managers.
About Keystone Online Tutoring
With online tutors based in London and available to families around the world, Keystone is one of the UK’s leading private online tutoring organisations. The tutors we represent are dedicated professionals with proven track records in the UK’s most competitive entrance and national exams. They help their students to perform at their best, building long-term academic resilience and life-long intellectual curiosity.