Online tutoring (part 1)

Online tutoring (part 1)

Tuition Canterbury does not offer online tutoring – and currently has no plans to introduce it. Why then post about it on the blog? The reason is, it has been a subject of some reflection this week, as I, and fellow centre owners in the APTC, have been approached by an online tuition provider to consider entering an arrangement with them.   

To begin with my understanding of what online tuition is –  and is not.

It is not simply programs like IXL Maths or BBC-Bitesize which are free to all who have the Internet for self-study and testing. Many of these are excellent. I sometimes refer to BBC-Bitesize for revision of science topics during my lessons at the centre. Away from the centre, patience and self-discipline to log in and work through them is all that is required.

Neither is online tuition another name  for ‘distance learning’ or ‘correspondence course’ – though it does have the remote element of these. Student and teacher do not meet for online tuition – certainly not often,  perhaps not at all.  However the interaction is greater and more simultaneous than the sending of assignments and feedback by mail or email. 

What distinguishes online tutoring is the technology of conferencing. From home, or from anywhere else with their laptops or smart phones, students are able to see their tutor (and vice versa), and follow his or her real-time demonstrations on a whiteboard. The tutor can then turn the use of the whiteboard over to the student to have a go at exercises.

So far, in theory, so good. Because neither tutor nor student has to make the effort to travel in the old-fashioned way to an appointment, tuition can take place, potentially, at many more times. Some parents may feel that not having the physical presence of the tutor is safer for the child. It is also likely to be a less expensive option for families than traditional home- or centre-based private tuition.  

As indicated in my opening, I have my doubts about the effectiveness of online tuition as I understand it. But I am not going to elaborate my caveats right now – rather follow up some of the issues over the weeks ahead. I want to be fair. Perhaps investigations will show that it has more to offer than I am yet aware of .