There is no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major educational disruption not just in the United Kingdom, but all over the globe.
The closure of educational institutions is estimated to have affected over 70% of the world’s student population.
Of course, the continuity of learning has to be maintained so schools have utilised the simplest, most convenient solution: online tutoring.
Some people remain unsure about the effectiveness of online tutoring compared to that of traditional in-person tutoring, but online tutoring is nothing new.
In fact, around 90% of all corporations opt for online tutoring over traditional tutoring nowadays, compared to only 4% in 1995. This trend is mirrored by the tutoring choices families are now making for their children. Kumon, Explore Learning and Tutoring Heroes all have considerable numbers of students opting for their online tutoring services.
If you are still not convinced, read on as we attempt to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of online tutoring to determine its effectiveness.
Advantages of Online Tutoring
No learning system is perfect, but the advantages of online tutoring heavily outweigh the disadvantages. Let’s go over the most notable ones.
Reduced Costs of Learning
According to Training Mag, of the $83 billion that made up 2019’s learning expenses in the U.S., $29.6 billion were associated with travel, equipment, and learning facilities.
Online tutoring cuts a sizeable percentage of learning expenses, including the cost of a facility, hiring a tutor, travel, printing costs for curriculum materials, and so on.
Moreover, it’s estimated that one hour of 1-1 online tutoring is equivalent to about half a day’s learning in the school classroom. Put differently, 1-1 online tutoring boosts productivity and is, therefore, very effective.
Way More Convenient
Let’s be honest; no one enjoys having their sleep disrupted by a persistent alarm clock that won’t stop blaring until you’re jolted awake.
There are days when our bodies and minds just crave one more hour of sleep to function properly. Equally, there are days when once home from school, children and parents alike just want to stay inside and not venture out into the cold and dark. On such days, online learning comes to the rescue!
Another advantage to remaining in the comfort of your own home is that no time is wasted driving to school or a tutoring centre – one less chauffeuring duty for Mum and Dad! With online tutoring comes great convenience.
You Set Your Own Schedule
As well as being more convenient, online tutoring isn’t as restrictively timetabled as traditional learning, and works alongside your own schedule and that of your child.
This is especially beneficial to busy families who feel like there are never enough hours in the day.
No Time Wasted on Travel
Whether you’re the tutor or the student, you no longer need worry about driving to and from a tutoring centre or your tutor/student’s home. This, in turn, will save a considerable amount of time that can add to your productivity.
From a tutor’s perspective, time is money. The more time you spend driving, the less money you make. Not to mention spending money on fuel.
Online tutoring spares you this particular waste of time and money and enables you to take back-to-back tutoring sessions from the comfort of your home. In turn this makes online tutoring cheaper for families who also benefit from not having to travel to the tutor’s home or a tutoring centre.
Prompt Results and Feedback
Another benefit of 1-1 online tutoring is instant feedback. The typical UK classroom has 28 students to 1 teacher, inevitably limiting the teacher’s ability to give individualised feedback to students. Tutoring Centres such as Kumon, Explore Learning and Kip McGrath also have high student to tutor ratios (commonly at least 6 students to each tutor), which limits the amount of feedback students receive.
When an e-learning student takes a test or quiz, they can see their results instantly. With traditional learning methods, students take tests and then must wait for their tutors to grade them – this may take a while, depending on the number of students and the teacher’s other responsibilities.
Tests and quizzes aside, feedback can be received through online learning much faster than with traditional learning. Students can ask a question and receive an answer almost instantaneously. Discussions between groups of students (with a tutor facilitating) can take place without anyone having to leave their homes.
Online learning means that tutors aren’t required to teach the same sessions over and over again; they can just record one session and upload the recording for other students.
This benefits both the tutor and the students: the tutor doesn’t need to exert unnecessary effort, and the students can re-watch the recordings as many times as they please until they have fully absorbed the content.
As previously mentioned, not all classes and courses are pre-recorded; some are conducted live via platforms such as Zoom and Groupworld. Whilst this format requires students to attend at an agreed time, this type of 1-1 online tutoring provides students optimum support during which they can ask their tutor questions about their learning and make even faster progress.
Higher Retention Rate
One of the most notable benefits of online tutoring is that it utilises multimedia more effectively than traditional learning, and the use of multimedia undoubtedly helps boost retention rates.
In fact, according to a study conducted by the Research Institute of America, online learning helps increase students’ retention rate by up to 60%. Still think e-learning isn’t effective?
With online learning, tutors can combine text with pictures and videos to better communicate the material so that students are able to comprehend more efficiently.
There are numerous tools and forms of multimedia that can be integrated into e-learning. Most of these tools are not accessible with traditional learning, and if they are, the limited timeframe for teaching can hinder their use.
Regularly Updated Content
Traditional learning relies mainly on textbooks. The problem with textbooks is that they can take a long time to write and publish, which is why providing up-to-date content on a regular basis is fairly challenging. Moreover, students are often given just one textbook, which can be rather limiting.
This problem doesn’t exist in the online learning model. Online courses are easy to update compared to physical textbooks, and so the vast majority of online course content is up to date and more varied in nature.
You Pick Your Teacher
Teachers make or break a class. Sadly, traditional learning doesn’t allow students to choose their teachers: they are stuck with whoever is assigned to the class or the tutoring centre.
Being tutored by an unlikeable teacher can be a difficult experience for students. Whether the teacher talks too slowly, lacks passion for their subject or can’t explain key concepts in an easy-to-understand manner, difficulties of this kind inevitably affect the value of the learning experience.
Luckily, with online tutoring, your child doesn’t have to take classes with the type of teacher we’ve just alluded to; you can opt for the tutor that best suits their needs.
The great thing about online tutoring is that you can have lessons with a tutor who’s based in a completely different part of the country. Your family may live in London, but your child’s tutor could be in Manchester, Exeter or Glasgow; you have access to the best tutors in the country, not just those who live in your area. The options are limitless!
What may be less obvious than the benefits mentioned above is that e-learning promotes self-discipline. With traditional learning, most teachers find that they are constantly pestering students to concentrate on their work.
With online learning, there is no pestering, and so students learn to overcome procrastination and develop their self-discipline. Making the commitment to meet with their tutor every week at a set time helps children learn to honour engagements and take ownership of their learning and development.
Disadvantages of Online Tutoring
Now that we’ve mentioned the most notable benefits of online tutoring, let’s talk about the limitations and drawbacks associated with the online tutoring model.
Limited Social Interaction
Social interaction can be limited with e-learning, but it’s not absent. We’d say that it’s just a little different from what you may perceive by the term ‘social interaction’.
For instance, instead of discussing concepts and topics with classmates in a schoolroom, your child will be discussing them within the confines of online forums.
Instead of meeting a tutor in a tutoring centre or at their home or your home, your child will be meeting them on online whiteboards such as Groupworld and Zoom. In fact, 1-1 online tutoring provides more direct interaction than visiting a tutoring centre where the student to tutor ratio is commonly 6:1 or higher. With 1-1 online tutoring your child has the full attention of their tutor and so can discuss their learning in far more detail.
However, as mentioned previously, some courses are based entirely on pre-recorded materials. Such courses tend to have the most limited form of social interaction. It’s also worth noting that several educational institutions are starting to implement hybrid courses, which are courses that combine online and in-person learning.
Online tutoring offers students and tutors varying options in terms of the extent of social interaction. It offers something for everyone.
Too Many Distractions
In a classroom, it’s hard to be distracted for long, as the teacher’s physical presence tends to keep the children attentive. This may not always be the case with online learning.
Despite its convenience, online learning opens a fairly large door of distractions. Your child may get distracted by their phone, the temptation to browse the internet or a mere notification. They may get distracted by family members talking or walking around.
If your child routinely gets distracted during online sessions, it will slow down their progress, so it’s best to set them up to take online classes somewhere quiet and free from distractions. However, a skilled online tutor will know when your child is distracted and will have strategies to keep them focused and motivated throughout their lessons.
Technology is remarkably convenient, but it’s not always reliable. If you engage in live online courses, it’s a prerequisite to have a reliable internet connection.
The constant lagging and glitching of audio and video associated with a poor internet connection can be detrimental to your child’s ability to make the most of their 1-1 online tutoring lessons.
To truly reap the benefits of online learning, you will need to ensure that your internet connection is stable and fast and that your device’s camera, microphone, and speakers are working, so that your child can communicate effectively with their tutor.
You’re Fully Responsible
As we mentioned previously, online learning lacks the physical presence of a teacher to ensure that students are concentrating on their work. This puts a greater level of responsibility for their learning onto the student, which relates to the development of self-discipline mentioned earlier.
If a student is easily distracted or has the tendency to procrastinate – which we all do to some extent – it will make online learning more challenging.
The keys to reaping the benefits of online learning are organisation, time management and self-discipline. These are all excellent skills that your child will pick up almost subconsciously while studying with a 1-1 tutor.
Initially, the need for these skills may make online learning more challenging but by providing your child with the opportunity to develop them now, you are ensuring that they will benefit in the future at college, university, and the workplace. Self-discipline and responsibility are simply two of the best traits your child can develop.
In summary, online tutoring has a lot to offer, from convenience, flexibility, and reduced costs to a wider range of learning materials, fast feedback, and higher retention rates.
Is it more effective than the traditional learning approach? In a lot of ways, yes, but not entirely.
Whilst the physical presence of a tutor plays a huge role in the learning process, highly effective online platforms such as Zoom and Groupworld mean that 1-1 online tutoring lessons can feel almost like having an in-person tutoring lesson.
With self-discipline and a good sense of responsibility, a student can benefit tremendously from online learning.
Hopefully, the information provided in this article has helped diminish any uncertainty you may have felt towards online tutoring. If you have any questions, please feel free to let us know.