Is Online Tutoring Effective?

It became clear very quickly through running one of the top tuition agencies in London (The Profs) that students who did not live in London wanted access to our professional tutors. In particular, students in other parts of the UK as well as international students when they were at home for their holidays. Consequently, tutors of the calibre that we have at The Profs were simply not available to them locally. Thus giving them no choice but to explore online options.

This naturally raises the question: is online tutoring effective? As we were unsure ourselves once-upon-a-time, we set about developing methodologies and technologies (BitPaper) to support online tuition.

What Exactly Makes Online Tutoring Effective?

For The Tutor:

  • Access to a much wider range of students, but without the hassle of traveling to tutor them. It opens you up to the lucrative international student market as well.
  • Teaching from the comfort of your home is not only quicker and more convenient. But you can also work at more anti-social hours and dramatically boost your effective hourly pay.
  • Finally, making use of cutting-edge technology to make quality and reusable teaching materials. Also use session recording to create permanent and shareable videos for tutees. We particularly like BitPaper as a whiteboard and Zoom for audio and video calls.

For The Student:

  • Access to much more specialist tutors from further afield. This is especially pronounced at the university level and beyond (try to find a neuroscience tutor in Chepstow!).
  • Being able to save content such as hand-made PDFs and record videos of classes adds a lot of continuation value to classes.
  • Flexibility of online tuition is also valuable as it’s easier to reschedule and have classes outside of tradition hours.
  • Finally, students also get to learn exactly the same as if we sat next to each other. But it’s without all the hassle and social pressure of meeting someone face-to-face. One of my female students once remarked that it was nice not having to put make-up on to meet for classes! Meeting someone face-to-face involves a lot of subtle pressures and these are basically removed by tutoring online. It is similar to how telephones can make it easier for some people to conduct conversations rather than chatting face-to-face.

Does Everyone Like Online Tutoring?

Initially, we always get a bit of resistance. My co-founder at The Profs, Richard, initially put his foot down and said that effective tutoring cannot be done online. Yet, as our tutors who embraced online teaching started to out-earn him through a combination of efficiency gains in their scheduling and also from higher-paying international clients, he eventually conceded. He now works exclusively as an online tutor and spends most of his time creating materials, like this blog series. This series teaches people how to tutor online effectively (that is, what hardware to buy, what software to use, and how to be a good tutor in general). Seeing is believing and once a student has had a class from a true professional online tutor they never go back to face-to-face tutoring.

Like anything, there is a learning curve to online tutoring and to begin with it can be quite hard. Particularly learning to use a writing tablet! You have to not only teach well, but operate a computer at high speed to deliver a convincing lesson. Obviously, you need to be tech savvy for sure. If you have poor motor coordination and/or are not very computer literate, you are probably better off doing face-to-face tuition.

Just How Much Can An Online Tutor Earn?

A common misconception is that online tutoring is synonymous with budget, poor-quality tuition, where the tutor earns as little at $8 an hour! Within my network of tutors, pretty much all of the top earners are online-only these days. What’s more one or two tutors have earned over £10,000 in a good month from online tutoring!!

The tutor must invest in online technology and train themselves to be able to deliver better-than-face-to-face tutoring online. They must have a good stable internet connection and a good router, a computer with as much RAM as possible (Macbook pros are good), a writing tablet (we use Wacom or Huion), a webcam, and ideally an audio headset with a good microphone.

The Future Of Tuition Is Online

We are trying to bring online tutoring into the mainstream and we routinely get asked “is online tutoring effective?” Having built dedicated software for online tutoring, and trained hundreds of tutors to tutor online ourselves, we are 100% convinced that a trained and experienced professional tutor can deliver an even better teaching experience to students online. Basically by using all the benefits of modern technology.

So Is Online Tutoring Effective?

In short yes, very. Think of it like this. In the modern world, traditional tutoring usually involves some degree of sitting around a computer to assist in studying and with online tutoring, you get two computers! If you are willing to accept that technology generally improves things, then you should be able to accept that it also improves educational outcomes. Electronic resources, recording, working with professionals from anywhere. No matter where you are, and the removal of social pressures all make online tutoring highly effective. As a result I have saved a junior investment banker’s career through online tutoring by helping her with her required finance exams, helped a struggling PhD to find their feet and publish in a top journal, helped an undergraduate go from a 3rd to a 2.1 in a year of weekly tuition and mentored various students into universities and jobs of their choice. All 100% online.

I can record classes at the click of a button, save them to the cloud as well as create beautiful PDFs by importing content in real-time from various sources using a snap-shot tool among other things.

I have personally tutored perhaps 2000 hours online to students at all levels, from high-school, to university, PhDs and professionals. Comfortably, I can say that all of them loved it and would only ever want online tuition in the future. Similarly, I only offer online tutoring as it is far more convenient for me and the educational outcomes remain exactly the same. You can learn just as well sitting next to me, talking and writing as you can sitting and looking at me on BitPaper, talking and writing.

Is It For Every Student?

Lastly, my one caveat would be that it is less suitable perhaps for very young children as they might lose interest and part of tutoring young children involves pastoral care. I have little experience here. Therefore I will leave it for others to judge. From my experience though, the sweet spot is high-school and university-aged students. These age groups are already tech savvy and there aren’t concentration and security concerns in the same way as with young children.

NEXT: Interested in learning more about online tuition? Then you should check out our series on How To Tutor Online.

Published on July 26th, 2017 by from The Profs

Any opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone. The Profs does not guarantee the accuracy of any of information on our blog and accepts no responsibility for views of the author.