"Never trust a computer you can’t throw out a window." - Steve Wozniak

Lockdowns and quarantines have changed the way we communicate. Be it classes, drinks with friends, or meetings at work, everyone seems to be getting used to video conferencing software, especially Zoom, whose popularity has drastically increased in the last year. Their revenue grew by 367% in 3 months.

But is Zoom the only videoconferencing software out there?

You’ll find out in this article!

Using Skype for Online Tutorials

Skype was quite a revolution when it was launched. Up until that point, mainly teenagers were chatting over webcam on MSN Messenger until Skype made everything a little bit more professional.

Should you use Skype for online tutorials?
If you have a decent internet connection, you can video call people from anywhere. (Source: kaboompics)

Skype quickly conquered workplaces with employees using it for meetings. Its main strength was that you could conference with multiple people.

Originally Swedish, the company was bought by Microsoft and remains one of the most popular videoconferencing programs in the world. A lot of people also use it for work interviews and unlike Messenger, Skype still has a reputation of a professional tool.

In addition to being able to chat over webcam, Skype also allows you to share your screen so other participants on the call can see what you’re looking at. This function is incredibly useful for remote lessons as the tutor can show the student an exercise as they correct it.

You can download Skype onto a computer, tablet, or smartphone. The only real downside to Skype is how slowly it can run on some devices with it taking a while to load on slower or older machines.

Learn more about online tutorials.

Google Hangouts for Remote Tuition

Google also has remote conferencing tools: Google Hangouts. Google’s tools compete with Skype.

The tools are free but you will need a Google account to use them. Once you’ve created your account, Google’s tools and features can start making your life easier. You can use the videoconferencing tools, cloud storage from Google Drive, and Google Docs to share documents, files, and work on the same documents at the same time. The tools from Google that can be used with Google Hangouts can be really useful for private tutors and students.

Google Hangouts also allows you to stream live on YouTube. A tutor can offer their classes on your YouTube channel, which is a great idea if they want to make a name for themselves on social networks.

Using Zoom for Online Private Tutorials

Zoom was originally developed way back in 2011 but became hugely popular during the lockdowns and restrictions because of COVID-19. Whether it was for talking to friends and family or for meetings with colleagues, Zoom suddenly became part of everyone’s vocabulary.

This program is now one of the most commonly used.

Should you use Zoom for online tutorials?
Zoom is a good choice for online tutorials but the free version is limited to 40 minutes for group calls. (Source: Engin_Akyurt)

The free version offers decent video and audio quality and there’s even the possibility of meetings of up to 100 different people with the paid version. This is an incredibly useful tool for those taking online private tutorials and unlike Skype, Zoom tends to run quickly and effectively.

If you decide to pay for Zoom, you can save your calls and create customised invite email templates.

Learn how to find the right online tutorials.

Using WhatsApp for Online Private Tutorials

While not as effective as Skype or Zoom, WhatsApp can be a useful alternative. The instant messaging service has replaced other messaging services for most mobile users and has the advantage of being able to send messages without having to create a Facebook account.

WhatsApp isn’t just for text messages, though. You can also video call people!

It can also be used for voice calls and you can make the call just like you would a normal phone call.

This idea isn’t for everyone as you have to keep your phone on-hand and work on a much smaller screen, but WhatsApp can be useful if you want a change and need to make a quick call.

Check out our tips for online tutoring.

Facebook Messenger for Remote Tutorials

The messaging service for Facebook later became an app in its own right. To use it, you’ll need a Facebook account, which is becoming increasingly uncommon as younger users gravitate towards other social media services.

Can you use Facebook messenger for online tutorials?
Facebook messenger does allow video calls but there are better apps out there. (Source: LoboStudioHamburg)

Much like WhatsApp, Messenger is a useful solution for making calls and sending messages. You can find contacts through Facebook and launch a video call.

The video call feature is quite recent and has positioned the app as a competitor to WhatsApp in certain regards. This is an option for older students or for getting in touch with the parents of younger students.

Online Private Tutorials with BigBlueButton

BigBlueButton is a program with teaching online tutorials in mind. The program allows you to create lessons according to different categories and organise your workspace into chapters, etc. The teacher can author their content and share it with their students. The students can access the content whenever they want.

In addition to being an effective tool, the program also allows you to video call, chat, and use an interactive whiteboard.

What better way to feel like you’re in class?

This allows the students to see their tutor while also following what they put on the board.

This is a great program for teachers who’ll regularly be teaching online. The classes are saved on the platform and can be updated since there’s little point in having to redo each hour every time you teach a class.

Which Tool Should You Use for Online Tutorials?

So which videoconferencing software is the best for teaching students online?

It depends on how you’re going to use it, your students, the subjects that you’re teaching, and the tools you’ll need.

Which are the best tools for online tutorials?
In a lot of cases, the app you use will be chosen by your tutor. (Source: jagritparajuli99)

Firstly, you need to ensure that it’s easy for your students to access and use. Take the time to talk to your students about the programs and apps they like to use.

There’s also a financial aspect to consider.

Are you willing to pay for a program or are you happy to use a free one?

If you don’t plan on teaching online for very long, you’ll probably be able to use the free versions for the time being.

Finally, consider how you like to teach. You can’t teach English in the same way you’d teach music. You need to adapt the tools to your teaching. For example, you’ll want a decent sound quality if you’re teaching music.

Think about the functionality, too:

  • How many people can there be on a call?
  • Can you save your lessons?
  • Can you share your screen with your students?
  • How long will your lessons last?

Once you’ve decided upon what you and your students need, picking the right solution will be easy.

Find out more about the equipment you'll need for online tutoring.

Teaching an online course can be rewarding for both students and the teacher. Students are happy because they can learn on a budget whether they're at school, university, or looking for help with new professional or personal skills. Tutors and teachers enjoy them as they can schedule more lessons each week as they don't have to waste time or money on transport to the student's house.

With the right tutoring platform and digital resources, online tutorials can be just as effective as face-to-face tutoring in many different subjects. While in-person courses are better for hands-on subjects, the digital classroom is more than adequate when it comes to teaching academic subjects and skills.

If you're looking for private tutors, head over to Superprof today. There are plenty of qualified and experienced academic support tutors ready to help you and many of them offer the first lesson for free. You can use this free lesson to try out several tutors, ask them how they can help you or your child, and discuss teaching approaches and how they'll adapt their lessons to the student.

There are three main types of tutorial available: face-to-face, online, and group tutorials. Each comes with its pros and cons so think carefully about each.

Face-to-face tutorials offer a tailored service and the tutor will often travel to the student's home. These are usually the most expensive types of tutorials, but they're also often the most cost-effective. However, during the global pandemic, many tutors are unable to continue seeing their students face-to-face or are opting to teach their tutorials online.

Online tutorials, as we've mentioned, can be as effective as face-to-face tutorials and they tend to cost less as the tutor doesn't have to worry about travel costs and can schedule more of them in the week.

Group tutorials are usually the cheapest per student per hour as everyone is sharing the cost of the lesson. They're excellent for students on a budget, too, but they can't guarantee that each lesson will be tailored to you. Furthermore, as the restrictions during the pandemic regularly change, it's unlikely that you'll be able to organise them.

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Joseph is a French and Spanish to English translator, language enthusiast, and blogger.