Is Online Tutoring The Future?
Online tutoring is a phenomenon, and it’s proving very popular and highly successful for JK students and tutors. The pandemic introduced many teachers and students to online learning for the first time. Many schools, teachers and students adapted well, but the consensus seems to be that the quality of online provision varied enormously. Some students turned to online tutoring to support their home learning, with the best tutoring companies – including JK Educate – being already set up with effective, interactive online teaching platforms to meet their needs. In addition, tutors who had always seen their existing students face to face had to adapt to teaching them online, and they did this quickly and enthusiastically.
What are the benefits of online tutoring?
Although children are back at school in person, the strong national trend towards online tutoring has not abated. This is because it has many benefits. One key advantage we see in online tutoring is that it benefits students looking for a tutor that’s perfectly matched to them, by removing any geographical constraints so that students are not limited to the tutors in their local area. This allows us to match students to the most suitable tutor for their personal learning objectives, personality and learning style, wherever they live. Online tutoring dramatically expands the available choice of high-quality tutors and a high percentage of JK tutoring sessions are now taught online, both in the UK and overseas.
Other benefits of online tutoring include improved learning continuity, as lessons can carry on even when families are away for work or on holiday, or for example when someone in the family is unwell, as there is no risk of transmitting a virus to a tutor online. When lessons take place online, it is far easier to share links and look up online resources together, if tutors are using a shared screen learning platform like JK Educate’s. Of course, there are also both environmental benefits and time efficiencies to be gained from not travelling to provide or receive lessons. Some students find an online tutoring session less intimidating, there’s no potential social awkwardness involved for the students with the arrival of the tutor into their home, and some families are even pleased they don’t need to tidy the house because the tutor is coming round!
Who and what can be taught online?
Maths, English and the sciences are very popular online subjects, but they are also popular tutoring subjects in general. For JK Educate, many of our students are preparing for entrance exams, so maths and English, along with verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning, are core components of what is studied. We also teach many GCSE and A Level students online, covering a broad spectrum of exam subjects very successfully.
Although online tutoring probably used to be considered more appropriate for older students at or above GCSE level, we have found that younger children adapt to and positively enjoy online tutoring. For example, all the 2021-22 cohort of 11+ students were tutored online for their entrance exams, and they achieved a 97.4% success rate. This shows that online tutoring services have proved themselves to be the equal of face-to-face tutoring when the quality of teaching is high, and that online learning works brilliantly for this age group.
Some types of tutoring are sometimes still better undertaken face-to-face in the same room. These include teaching the very young, or students with Special Educational Needs. For example, it can be challenging to keep the attention of younger children through a screen, and requires more active parental involvement, whereas even very experienced teachers find it much easier to engage and teach very young children in person.
Is online tutoring safe?
Safeguarding is as important for online tutoring as it is for tutoring conducted in person. We take this very seriously and JK Educate are committed to providing the highest standard of safeguarding for both students and tutors. All our tutors are DBS checked, they all undergo rigorous interviewing, and their references are carefully verified, whether they teach in person, online or both.
As specified in our JK Parent Handbook, the online tutoring platform we use is carefully designed to ensure students and tutors work together in a safe environment. We have a code of conduct that is clearly explained to tutors, parents and students. Parents and guardians will always be responsible for the welfare of the student during teaching sessions and should be close by, just as they would be during a face-to-face lesson. Students are only permitted to record video, still images or audio of any tutoring sessions for learning purposes and both tutors and students only share links to online content or educational resources that directly link to the content of their sessions. Parents need to ensure the general online safety of their children and know what they are seeing and doing online, but reputable tutoring companies will support that by taking every step to protect the safety of both students and tutors during online tutoring sessions.
What’s the future?
It’s possible that, just as people have gradually returned to attending the theatre, cinema, restaurants (and schools) in person after the pandemic, there may be a slight shift back to more face-to-face tutoring in students’ homes. Some people simply prefer the face-to-face experience. We are recruiting more consultant tutors to teach in person, but it is clear that online tutoring is here to stay.
Online tutoring platform provider Bramble conducted some research* to find out how students, tutors and parents feel about the future of tutoring delivery. The results, from 2,700 participants, show that 50% would like to go forward with a combination of online and face-to-face tutoring, while 27% of respondents would prefer ongoing online tutoring rather than any return to in-person tutoring. No doubt these results delighted Bramble, given the nature of their business, but it’s an interesting outcome that didn’t surprise us at JK, as many of our tutors value the benefits of online teaching very highly.
We predict that online tutoring will continue to represent a high percentage of total tutoring hours in the UK. Our overseas students rely upon it to access quality tutoring from the UK as well as help with school or university choices and applications, but it has become central to our work with our UK client base too. As online technology continues to improve, perhaps online tutoring will continue to grow even further.