How does online tuition work?
My online lessons work in the same way as in-person lessons. In both, my student and I can speak to each other, see each other, show each other work and materials, and generally collaborate. I can mark and comment on their work while they complete it. I can use online materials and videos. I can talk to their parents. They can say hello to my cat.
The obvious difference is that in-person students are physically present in my workroom in Warwickshire, while their online counterparts could be anywhere in the world.
What equipment and surroundings do I need?
You don’t need elaborate or expensive equipment for online tuition. You don’t need a paid subscription. All you need are:
- Access to Skype and / or Zoom. These are the free services that I use for our lessons.
- Somewhere quiet to work. Avoid noisy cafes or your family living room with the tv on.
- A desktop computer or laptop or large tablet. Phone screens are too small, (though they’re acceptable for a conversation lesson that doesn’t entail visual materials).
- A fast and reliable internet connection. If possible, connect via your ethernet cable rather than wi-fi.
- A headset (headphones and microphone). These are essential as they cut out background noise and prevent echo and feedback. You don’t need an expensive set.
- A table or desk to sit at for your lesson, so that you can type and write easily and have your materials to hand.
How do I attend my online lesson?
This is the really easy bit. If we’re using Skype you simply log in a couple of minutes before the lesson is due to start, and wait for me to call you. If we’re using Zoom I’ll send you a link and you simply click on it and the lesson will start. I will send detailed instructions of course.
Why should I consider online tuition?
- No travel time; no need for parents to drive students to my home;
- More choice of lesson time, as students are not tied to parental availability;
- Much more flexibility about last-minute bookings or reschedules;
- Possibility of alternating online and in-person lessons;
- Lessons in the daytime during free periods at school;
- No need to cancel if you feel unwell – as long as you’re well enough for a lesson!
- No chance of catching illnesses from each other
Access to an expert tutor
You are not restricted to the teachers in your area, but can have online lessons with the right tutor for your needs.
Shy students can be more comfortable with online lessons
There is a kind of equality with online tuition that is different from in-person: students are more relaxed as they’re on home territory and there’s no tutor sitting next to them watching them write or waiting for them to answer a question. I’ve found that shy students are definitely more forthcoming after moving to online lessons.
Students who are easily distracted engage well with online lessons
I’ve found that students who have difficulties with attention learn more effectively online than in-person. Lessons for these students need to be highly-structured, and perhaps shorter than an hour, which is easy to accomplish online. When students are wearing a headset and focusing on their on-screen lesson they are less likely to become distracted.
Students know how to use the technology
The technology for online tuition is familiar to teenagers – are they not always on their phones or FaceTiming each other?