A few years ago I made the switch from face to face English tuition to online tuition. As a female going to houses all over the county and tutoring until late at night had its disadvantages. A violent drunk parent of a student one night meant that I wasn’t willing to take on new students.
So knowing that it’s probably going to come as a surprise that less than a year later I returned to face to face tuition. For me the advantages of the distance and remoteness, were far outweighed by the disadvantages offered by the distance and remoteness.
- No travel. It took on average ¾ of an hour to travel between students, as it never worked that I was seeing students who lived near each other on the same day.
- Fewer safety worries, safe behind my computer screen I had no concerns from that point of view.
- Larger target market. I could work with students in London whilst sitting in my office in Liverpool.
- If a student cancelled the session I was in my office, so I could make a cup of tea, rather than hanging around in a supermarket carpark waiting till I could go to my next session.
Notice all the advantages are from the tutor’s side, rather than the parents. For them travel wasn’t an issue, we all know that online grooming is a real risk, rather than a qualified teacher who comes highly recommended and has a CRB/DBS, whilst they can select tutors from around the world there are always tutors in the locality that come with glowing references.
- The students are always on Facebook, or watching YouTube at the same time. Miles away I have no way to get them to put their phones away, stop messaging their mates and get off social media. I can only see their faces looking at the computer screen, it’s all too easy for them to get distracted.
- The contact with the parents falls away to nil. With the students accessing the remote class room themselves, and a remote payment I don’t have those few minutes before or after a session to chat to the students’ parents and deal with any little issues before they become larger issues.
- Practical learning is virtually impossible. No science experiments, no building a robot over 10 weeks and watching it run round the living room floor, no improving handwriting by learning calligraphy, all lessons need to be able to be typed or spoken.
- Reduced feedback. I can only see the end result. Now making little corrections as they go.
- Less chance for a gentle chat. Over the years I visited students in their homes I was able to speak to them, listen to the real problems they were having in school, there was no more whispered admissions that reading gave them a headache, which meant I could suggest that Mum get them tested for Irlens syndrome and their eyes checked. No more listening as they owned up it wasn’t trigonometry they didn’t understand but the basics of angles. No chance to talk to their teachers about the fact three of my students all had the same problem with a member of staff, and no suggesting to Dad that the science museum was doing an exhibit that his two boys would get a great deal out of. I was as involved with my students as they were with a YouTube video.
- Yes, the same technology that made it possible, also meant it was a disadvantage. All too often I couldn’t connect to the classroom provided by the agency, or the student would suddenly vanish and never reappear. Then would come the “whose fault.” Is it conversation. Their fault and I got paid, my fault and I didn’t.
For some it’s an ideal situation, a fully qualified tutor in their bedroom once a week to answer questions and set work. But in reality a tutor in the real world will offer this and so much more, and without the online agency taking their cut for the virtual classroom and making the connection you will find that a real world tutor will be charging a similar amount even with an agency fee.
Try both and see, but trust me, as a tutor with almost a decade of being in demand, you’ll rarely find me on line. I love what I do, and what I do is tutor, I don’t just speak at my student, I don’t just teach, my students deserve my all, and for that they need to see me in the real world, not on their computer screen once a week.