Doing it right.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in Canada and the world, many schools have turned to an online format. While this is a necessary decision due to safety concerns, it raises the question of whether this may hinder students. While the primary function of a school is to provide education, it also serves as a means of social gathering. Students, especially younger children, make most of their friends from school, and it is through a school setting that children develop interpersonal skills and build meaningful relationships. While there is no doubt that the need for personal safety supersedes any need for social interaction, we still need to consider the consequences of online schooling.
As a tutor who primarily works remotely, I strive to approach online instruction in a way that is fun and engaging. I believe that if done the right way, online tutoring can be as effective as in-person or home tutoring.
Before we move onto solutions, here are the most common skeptical comments related to Online Tutoring in Toronto:
- We have tried online tutoring in the past but it did not work
- My child is too easily distracted
- I don’t think you can do math on Skype
If your child received online tutoring and was not satisfied, it is most probable that the tutor did not use the right platform or was not proficient enough in teaching online effectively. For example, using skype for tutoring is the least ideal simply because this platform was not designed for tutoring. You simply cannot teach math by speaking to your student.
How to do online tutoring effectively
1. Keep your students engaged
We all remember times in school when we dozed off or did not pay attention. In an online setting, with distractions like social media being a click away, it is very easy for students to get sidetracked. In addition, without the “human” interaction of in-person instruction, online homeschooling can become quite unengaging. As such, my job is to overcome these challenges, and put in extra effort to ensure my students are interested and attentive. Especially with younger students, I need to come up with ways to relate the lesson for the day with something they can appreciate. For example, several of my students are very interested in video games and want to pursue a career in game design. When I teach them math, I try to relate my questions in a way that involves video game concepts and tell them how the math they learn today will help them when they become a game designer in the future.
In the midst of this pandemic, it is understandable that students may lose motivation in their studies. As a private tutor, half of my job is keeping spirits high, and motivating my students to work through their challenges. In an online setting, I make an extra effort to give words of encouragement to my students and assure them that they can achieve their goals.
Importance of Visual Cues
While it may seem inconsequential, I find my students engage the best with our video cameras turned on. Much of communication is visual in nature: when we speak to someone, we are paying attention to facial expressions, body language, and other visual cues. In addition, gestures and hand motions can be extremely helpful in explaining concepts, and if I limit myself to audio-only instruction, a huge part of my communication is lost. To be able to see my student, and for my student to see me, can allow us to build a sense of connection and understanding, even if I am not physically present.
Use Powerful Online Resources
TutorOne uses Bramble, an educational program that enables video calling and provides a virtual canvas that allows both myself and my student to write and draw in real-time. While an online tutor may be limited in some respects, we also have several advantages over in-person tutoring.
Benefits of Online tutoring
- Rapid link/resource sharing
For example, I am able to quickly link resources to my students, and upload detailed content during the lesson. In addition, since all of the work for each of my lessons are stored online, my students can have access to our notes whenever they need it.
- Lesson Recordings
How great is it to be able to access your lessons after they are already done? Every lesson that you have turns into a personal movie that you can access at any time. This is definitely not a feature of in-home tutoring. Not only these lessons are recorded, but they are also encoded with keywords that students can use to access a specific part of a lesson.
- Ability to accommodate each student
Online tutoring also grants flexibility over scheduling. Before the pandemic, when I did in-home tutoring, I sometimes had to turn down students that I was an excellent fit for, simply because traveling times were prohibitive. Online tutoring has removed this barrier, and the range of students I can tutor has vastly increased. In addition, without the need for travel, I can accommodate students who request last-minute lessons, or need additional help on their assignments. In some ways, I believe that online tutoring has actually increased my ability to support students.
COVID-19 has caused much disruption around the world, especially to our education system. As a tutor, we needed to adapt our methodology for the best interest of our students and maintain our high quality of instruction despite these setbacks. A tutor’s skill set remains the same in both an in-person and online environment, but it is how we use those skill sets that really determines how effectively we can provide instruction virtually. At a time where morale is low and students have less social interactions than ever, it is our role as tutors to elevate our students and give them the confidence they need in their education.
TutorOne provides quality, one-on-one private tutoring in Canada. We would be happy to help you or your children to succeed in school.