“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” - Benjamin Franklin
As the virus continues to spread around the world and new measures are introduced regularly, you might be wondering how you can keep teaching your private tutorials.
It doesn’t look like COVID-19 is going anywhere soon so it might be worthwhile adapting to it, especially since the kids are back at school and university.
The lessons they missed last academic year have led to some students having difficulties or falling behind and private lessons can help them catch up. The one bonus to the lockdowns and new measures is that you can try out working from home.
You might want to make sure that you can keep working even when the measures in place stop you from being able to teach your students face-to-face. Here are some of the resources you can use to teach your private tutorials online.
Videoconferencing Platforms for Teaching Online Tutorials During the COVID-19 Pandemic
For many, face-to-face tutorials are no longer an option or desirable but that doesn’t mean you have to stop teaching altogether. The first resource that you’ll want to look at is a suitable video conferencing program.
There are tonnes of them! If you don’t know which one to choose, try a few of them first.
This is the most popular videoconferencing software in the world. Skype is free and can be downloaded or used directly online. You can use it on your computer or your smartphone and it can support calls with up to 50 people in them!
Other features are useful for private tutors and students alike:
- The chat allows you to send text messages, links, images, files, etc. without having to resort to email. You can also edit or delete messages if you make a mistake.
- You can share your screen, too. This allows your student to see exactly what you can see on your screen.
The program is free to use. You just need to create an account and add your student’s account.
The downside to Skype is that there are a few issues with reliability such as calls dropping and spotty connections.
With so many people working from home during the lockdown, Zoom has become hugely popular. According to the business, 300 million people were using the program in April 2020 against 10 million in December 2019.
The program uses a freemium model with several free features. There’s a time limit on group meetings but no limit on 1:1 meetings. This is great for private tutorials. With more than two participants, there’s a 40-minute time limit.
The advantages of Zoom is that only the host needs to create an account. Others can join the call by using a link.
Generally, Zoom is praised for its high-quality video and audio. Like with Skype, you can share your screen or send messages in the chat. However, there have been criticisms of data protection, but this should be fine if you’re just sharing maths or English lessons and not sensitive information.
Hangouts are supposed to be Google’s answer to WhatsApp. They’re available on Android, iOS, and PC through your browser.
You can host videoconferences, use the chat, share files, and screen share. Only the host needs a Google account. The other users can join by using a link.
The best thing about Google Hangouts is the integration with Google Calendar allowing you to schedule your calls.
There are a few alternatives that you may want to try out before making your decision:
We’ll leave you to try them out and see what works best for you.
Stay in Contact with Your Students During the Pandemic
Even if you’re no longer teaching face-to-face, you need to stay in contact with your students. Despite the distance, most of your students should be able to contact you.
Of course, it’s up to you to decide on the best way to do this. You mightn’t want your students texting you or adding you as a friend on Facebook.
You can get a free email address or one with your own domain. There are several advantages to communicating by email:
- Students can attach files.
- You can send them at any time of the day.
- You can reply when you want.
- If you’ve got your email app on your phone, you can respond to them from anywhere.
- There are also disadvantages:
- They’re more formal than using Messenger or WhatsApp.
- Because of this, they can feel colder and more distant, especially to younger students used to using messaging services.
- It can take a while to respond to them, especially if you’re not notified immediately. This can be an advantage, though. Emails are less intrusive than messages as they won’t pop up on your phone at any time of the day.
Your students probably already use Facebook Messenger or something similar to talk to their friends. It might be a good idea if you use it, too.
The advantage is that it can bring the tutor and student closer together as it’s an effective way to communicate.
The downside is that they can contact you at any given time and it’s not the most professional way to communicate with your students.
If you don’t want your students calling you, you might want to tell them to contact you by WhatsApp.
This is a simple tool for sending messages and it comes across as quite friendly. The downside is that while you can use WhatsApp on your computer, it’s not the best app for sharing files.
If you have several students studying the same subject, you might want to create a Discord server where they can chat with one another and get in contact with you. You can do things like quizzes in a given subject or even have them practise exams or tests.
You can create discussion channels and get students to work together. In voice channels, you can leave them to discuss while you listen in to make sure that they’re on the right track.
The disadvantage is that a lot of your students will probably see Discord as something fun and won’t want it ruined by making your tutorials part of it.
How Can You Share Materials with Students Effectively?
Whether you’re offering homework help, maths tutorials, academic support, or any other type of tutorial, you’re going to need to provide students with exercises and work to do and have them submit work for you to correct.
You can do this via email or through some of the videoconferencing programs we mentioned but you can’t correct exercises live in front of them. You’ll have to take the document, correct it, and send it back to the student.
There is an easier way. You can use Google Slides to share presentations and work on a Google Doc in real-time with your students.
- Google Slides works just like PowerPoint but it’s online. As you’re working through your lessons, you can share everything with your student.
- Google Docs works like a Word file but you can both edit it at the same time. You can watch them complete the exercises live and they can see your corrections as you make them.
Practical, isn’t it?
There are also services like Blackboard and Google Classroom that are worth checking out.
With the amount of teaching that students missed out on due to the lockdown and the closure of schools, it's hardly surprising that now they're back, there's an increase in demand for online learning resources and help from private tutors and teachers.
It may be a while before things go back to normal in terms of work and education and it mightn't be easy for private tutors, but if you can adapt to the situation, you should be able to continue offering your courses online or in virtual classrooms!
You may even start discovering new resources and ways of teaching that you would have never considered if not fir the unique situation many tutors and teachers find themselves in.
Remember that in the same way that your students may need help from tutors online, you can also find plenty of content, information, and help online, too!
You just need to know where to look.