I have been tutoring since 2005, and it has always been face-to-face. When I first considered the idea of online tutoring, I was extremely worried.
I asked myself:
How can you establish rapport?
How can you provide feedback?
How can you see what the student is doing?
How can you help students improve if you are not sitting right there (admittedly, hovering)?
After doing some research and trying a couple of sessions online, I am now a firm believer in online tutoring. It prevents me from hovering (lucky students), but I still have the opportunity and the space to provide feedback and see my students.
Getting Started with Online Tutoring
Here, I am going to provide you with some tips to support students online. If you are a tutor, use these tips to help you get set-up. If you are a parent, use these tips to get your student ready for online tutoring.
Choosing an Online Tutoring Platform
First, consider how you will connect for your session. My favorite way is using GoogleHangouts and GoogleDocs; however, Skype is also a great way to connect. The tutor and the family should determine the best platform for connecting that will meet your needs and that all are comfortable with.
If you are working on an assignment or reading something together, make sure you each have a copy before you begin. If it is a document, many phones have apps now to send and scan a document so that you can both have access to it.
On Google, you can share screens or share documents. I love GoogleDocs when helping a student with writing because we can talk to each other over GoogleTalk and work on the document simultaneously using the GoogleDoc feature.
Building a Rapport
Building a rapport is still possible, even when in separate locations. In the same way that you would begin a tutoring session by checking in with each other, setting goals, and getting focused, you can still begin your session with this communication.
Other Ways of Sharing Work
Because you can video chat using online tutoring, it is very easy to still use whiteboards to explain concepts, show text annotations as you are reading, or use any other kind of visual key to help build understanding.
Skype and GoogleHangout both have the option to share your screen. Which means if you are working in another program or reading something online, you can very easily share the resource with each other.
Ultimately, online instruction might take some getting used to. But the benefits for the environment, the ease with which you can meet, and the ability to maintain support and rapport are great reasons for considering the online platform.