From the way we study and learn, to where we shop and how we communicate — the internet has changed our way of life.
Decades ago, many 'experts' predicted that, by 2020, traditional education methods and classroom learning — even teachers — would be replaced completely by a computer.
Well, it hasn't happened yet although online classes have become very real in the last year and requests for online tutoring are starting to outweigh requirements for in-home tutors.
In response to this demand, an increasing number of private tutors and tutoring agencies are looking to digital resources as well as traditional methods to support all students, especially those who live in the more remote regions of Australia.
Online learning is not the next big thing, it is the now big thing.
~ Donna J. Abernathy ~
So — what do you need to get the most out of your online lessons?
If you're spending money on online classes with a tutor, you'll want to make sure your computer equipment doesn't let you down. After all, what's the point of receiving tutoring if computer glitches interrupt your maths, chemistry or physics lessons, or if you can't hear your French or English language tutor clearly.
As long as you have a recent model computer, you just need to make sure your internet connection is solid. For optimal learning with your online tutor, a broadband link is ideal. If you only have wireless, that's okay — just be aware of weak signals or low speed as these can interrupt the flow of your lesson. In these cases, make sure your computer is close to the router.
There are two accessories well worth spending the money on:
- Webcam — your laptop or desktop computer may have a built-in webcam if they are a newer model. Just make sure you check the quality (or existence) of a webcam before your first class.
- Headphones and microphone — ideally an all-in-one set. Your current computer might have a built-in microphone and speakers, but the quality is usually not the best. A good-quality set of headphones will not break the bank and they'll soon pay for themselves if you're doing a lot of online classes.
We are not lacking in choice when it comes to apps for online learning and education.
However, before you rush online to subscribe to the first app that Google presents, wait to see what your tutor recommends. Tutors will usually have a preferred software — one they know delivers the best online class experience.
Your tutor will have a number of tools they use in their teaching, specific to their subjects. For example, chemistry or maths tutors often use an interactive whiteboard app.
Video Chat Platform
The video chat platform used will probably be determined by your tutor as well. In the past, Skype has been the most commonly used for online classes. However, recently the Zoom platform has taken over in popularity.
Skype and Zoom have the following features in common:
- screen sharing — this allows tutors to 'share their screen' with students so both teacher and student can see what is going on. Screen sharing is particularly useful when tutors are demonstrating new procedures in maths, or wanting to show analysis charts in chemistry or physics.
- multiple users — this is perfect for group classes
- free to download — your tutor may require a paid account but, as the student, you only need to click on the link and follow the prompts.
An added bonus with Zoom, however, is the record function. This allows tutors to record lessons with their students, or record demonstration videos. These can then be shared with students to help them revise the lesson. (If you want to record lessons on Skype, you need to download a recorder separately.)
Sometimes tutors or students need to send each other files, such as a maths assignment or a chemistry demonstration video, which may be too large to upload via email.
There are a number of applications that allow tutors and students to do this — and they also help with version control. A few options include:
- Team Drive
- Google Drive
- Amazon Cloud
Check with your online tutor to see which application they use.
Where Can You Find an Online Tutor?
In Australia, tutoring is a $1.3 billion industry and while it all started as home tutoring or tutoring lessons in an agency premises, there has been a clear shift towards online tutoring in recent years — even before the pandemic made it necessary.
Owing to this growth, it has never been easier to find online courses or tutors who specialise in online teaching.
It can be a bit overwhelming trying to choose a tutor. Think about your needs and your time availability, then use this information to create a shortlist of tutors as a starting point. You may discover that an agency offers more flexibility than a freelance tutor, or that a freelance tutor is cheaper.
Some of the places worth investigating when you are looking for online classes or a private online tutor include:
More and more tutoring agencies have added online tuition to their packages along with their face-t0-face private and group lessons. Tutoring agencies often specialise in specific subjects — usually maths, English and science (chemistry, physics and biology) — although some agencies cater for a wide breadth of academic and recreational subjects.
You'll find tutoring agencies that cater specifically for primary school students, secondary school students or university level students (both undergraduate and postgraduate).
Fees are often lower for online lessons, too.
- Education sites
Many education websites have been around for years but have recently surged in popularity. Some are free to use, others may have a yearly subscription fee. Many sites also have tutors available, especially in the subject areas of maths, English and science.
Both digital advertisements or the traditional paper flyer on a noticeboard or in the letterbox continue to be used by freelance tutors to promote their services.
With the Superprof platform, students can get the flexibility they need at a price that suits their budget.
There are thousands of tutors to choose from — though the platform makes it easy to narrow your search right down — in all sorts of subjects, including:
- English — all English skills, essay writing at all levels and specialist English as a Second Language tutors
- Maths — from basic numeracy skills for primary school students to university level calculus
- Science — chemistry, physics, biology and other science fields at all levels from primary school to university postgraduate
- General study skills — tutors also help with study skills (exam study, time management etc.)
From academic subjects like business studies and engineering, to language study and recreational subjects, you'll find an online or face-to-face tutor for your needs on the Superprof platform.
What Subjects Can You Learn Online?
Tutoring is not only about targeted help to improve in specific subjects. Other education help available from tutors includes:
- ongoing support for special needs students
- extension lessons
- short-term, intensive exam preparation
- targeted learning of specific skills within a subject on an as-needed basis.
Modern technology allows learning to take place for just about any subject.
- Practice a second language. Learn from scratch or have regular conversations with your French or Japanese tutor to maintain your skills.
- Learn an instrument — anything from theory and composition to piano, guitar, percussion, woodwind or singing lessons.
- Fitness — learn and practise a new fitness activity. Try strength training, yoga, tai chi or boxing.
Why Choose Private Tutoring?
There is an increasing awareness of the impact of the learning environment on student wellbeing and progress. One on one tutoring, whether online or face-to-face, is proving to have several recognised benefits.
- Students are more likely to actively participate in their learning and education without feeling under pressure from peer judgement.
- Organisation and personal responsibility for achieving learning outcomes increase.
- Confidence increases, leading to improved outcomes.
Plus, technology is engaging for students, particularly younger ones. Teachers and tutors have a wide range of resources at their fingertips to stimulate and engage their students while meeting their education needs.
What do you need?
- Reliable internet connection
- Good computer (recent model)
- Accessories — webcam and headset
- Textbooks or course outline
- Positive attitude
What do students get from online learning?
- Individualised learning
- Improved skills
- Academic success
Who provides online learning?
- Tutoring agencies
- Private tutors
- Education websites
- Tutoring platforms (e.g. Superprof)
How much does it cost?
Fees depend on the subject, tutor qualification and student level but there are good quality tutors to suit every budget.
Don't wait. Start your search today.
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