It is very rare these days to find an industry unaffected by the internet. Think back to how we used to catch up with friends before Facebook or how we got the best deal on insurance before websites like Moneysupermarket.
The rise of online tutoring is another example of the internet changing things for the better. Again, let's reflect on how tutoring worked in the days before the internet.
Tutors pounded the pavement, handing out flyers and posting adverts. If parents were lucky, their child's school might have had a stable of tutors to recommend - from general academic coaches to subject-specific tutors for maths, English, science and arts.
Sometimes, concerned caregivers learned of exceptional tutors by word of mouth: another parent had employed a fantastic tutor and recommended him to others who would do anything to ensure their students' success.
Not only has the internet made possible tutoring platforms such as Superprof, but it has also opened the floodgates to online learning and tutoring online.
How lucky are we that such services are available during these pandemic times? Were it not for the internet, social distancing measure would have brought the practice of tutoring to a screeching halt.
Besides permitting our social contacts to continue - albeit virtually, web-based applications have made online tutoring a dynamic, fast-growing industry that benefits millions of students worldwide.
Let's look at five reasons why online tutoring works so well, and for so many people.
Why People Turn to Tutoring
Tutoring is perhaps the oldest method of formal education. Long before schools were established, well-to-do families employed tutors to educate their sons. That trend continued throughout the Middle Ages, until compulsory education became a mandate in several countries.
Despite the rise of public education in the 18th Century, wealthy families still turned to in-home tutors to round out their children's education.
There are good reasons to turn to tutoring, whether online or in-person.
Besides the academic success that tutoring helps achieve - such as understanding, remembering and knowing how to use information learned in school, tutored students usually feel a boost to self-esteem that comes from being confident they can succeed in school.
One unfortunate consequence of public education and its mandate for standardised testing is that so many teachers are compelled to teach to the test. Mirroring that trend, parents may seek out tuition for their children exclusively for exam preparation.
A particular upside to exam prep tutoring is that the tutor does not adhere strictly to revising test materials. S/he would be more likely to delve deeper into the subject material to ensure that their students don't simply regurgitate answers to test questions; they want tutees to fully grasp what they're learning.
School lessons don't generally allow for such a depth of exploration but, working with a tutor, a student may explore any subject to his intellect's content.
Over one quarter of school children have received tutoring and the trend is catching on. People have started complaining that they cannot find a tutor for a given subject - maths, science and others when they need one.
That is why platforms such as Superprof are so vital in the current online tutoring market. They are growing so popular that people are now turning to it in preference to traditional home tutoring... and we're not sure how much of that is due to COVID and how much is because of pros of online learning.
Now, let's look at five specific reasons why online tutoring is such a hit with students, parents and teachers.
Let's say your child is a student enrolled in primary school. She just had her first music or art lesson and she loved it! Of course, you would want for her to pursue that passion; to run with it as far as it will take her.
Locally, artists teaching small children how to draw and paint may be thin on the ground but via online tutoring, you could engage with an art teacher who specialises in teaching young artists from anywhere in the world.
Likewise, if your secondary school pupil has trouble in math class, your local maths tutor may already have a full schedule but you're sure to find the help your child needs through tuition online.
Online, you can find and contact a tutor immediately, to cover every subject – from anthropology to zoology and everything in between.
That means that parents, too, would be able to take classes. If they wanted to learn how to cook, do yoga or sharpen their business skills, they could find a mentor online. That's one of the greatest benefits of online tutoring.
One advantage of school is that it is firmly scheduled: one goes to school from (around) eight in the morning until early (or late) afternoon; never on weekends unless some extracurricular activity or workshop is taking place.
Inconveniently, the rest of the world tends to march in lockstep with that schedule. Business hours generally reflect school hours and, while shops and doctors' offices have learned to stay open past those standard times, banks' and post offices' hours of operation remain pretty much the same.
By contrast, the internet is open for business 24 hours a day, 7 days per week and on holidays.
That means that you can arrange a tutoring session for the times most convenient for you, delivered straight into your home via your laptop or pc, tablet or phone.
Even better: this technology erases boundaries so, if you wanted French lessons with a native speaker from Paris or a few sessions with a Mandarin speaker to brush up on your Chinese speaking skills, you won't be limited to the choice of language teachers in your immediate area.
Do you need more positive proof that online learning works?
If you are a college student - one well aware of the dangers lurking everywhere including online, you would likely be less concerned with your personal safety than a parent of a younger child.
In-home tutoring has always been a risky proposition. After all, inviting a stranger into your home for a face to face lesson with your primary school learner can cause substantial anxiety.
That is why the UK government insists that anyone with a duty to care - doctors, teachers and, yes, even tutors, should have a DBS report to present any prospective client.
Disclosure and Barring Service checks aside, it stands to reason that not inviting strangers into one's home is far safer than doing so, which is why parents consider online lessons less risky.
If you wanted to start your tutoring business this year - a time when most caregivers prefer the online session format to the face to face method of lesson delivery, know that you must still submit to a background check.
Having a DBS is a selling point in your favour and most parents will request one from you, anyway.
"Digital native: a person who was born after the widespread adoption of digital technology." Definition by Techopedia
Most everyone currently enrolled in school today, from university and college down through secondary school and into primary grades are digital natives. That definition excludes some adults enrolled in continuing education.
People prefer to work in the medium they feel most comfortable with. For school students - digital natives, anything that happens via their electronic devices is favoured over what might take place in real time and face to face.
The savvy tutor would know that the best way to share information would be to host sessions online, using the applications that their charges would be most familiar with.
Technology is very accommodating, providing teachers at every level a variety of platforms, applications and utilities to share new information and help students with their work. And the best part is, quite a few of them are free to use!
Take Zoom, for example. You may start your session with a traditional back-and-forth discussion of new ideas, after which you might make use of the built-in interactive whiteboard to collaborate - maybe work out a difficult equation or draw a substance's molecular composition. You and your student can even record the lesson - again, for free.
Students like online lessons because they fit neatly into their comfort zone. They are able to make use of their online skills, navigating through apps effortlessly.
One might say that deploying such skills should be added to the long list of benefits online tutoring services provide.
Join the discussion: why is online tutoring proving so popular?
In the segment above, we mentioned that several online apps and utilities do not cost the user anything. Did you also know of the trove of lessons to be had online - in just about any subject and in different formats?
You might find video chemistry tutorials, music lessons and a whole host of written material, from college essays to dissertations on just about any topic you could think of. The only downside to them is that they don't provide guided learning.
Still, the 'at no cost to you' philosophy that seems to dominate the internet could hardly be a better argument for the price benefits of online tutoring... but we'll launch a few more, just in case you needed any.
Before we start detailing the cost advantages of online learning, let us clear up a potential misunderstanding: online tutoring with a tutor is not free, even though many tutors offer their first hour of instruction at no cost to you.
In itself, that 'first hour free' practice offers a great advantage to the client because they get to see if that tutor will work well with them or if they need to scout around for one they might click with better.
The online arena provides other cost savings - for clients and for tutors. They include:
- no travel costs
- no travelling to work, either, which represents a time savings
- fewer supplies needed
- a wealth of teaching materials to draw from
- a wider selection of tutors - and prices to choose from
For cost and convenience, for safety and accessibility; student engagement and tutor availability: online tutoring is the promise of help on every level of education.
Are there cons of online tutoring? Find out here.