What Do Private Tutors Think About Online Tuition?

Private Tutors And Online Tuition: What Do They Think? 

In 2015, The Tutor Pages published a groundbreaking report into online tuition in the UK – the first of its kind.

Around 400 tutors were asked about all aspects of online tuition: Technology, payment solutions, affordability, the benefits and challenges, and much more. These are some of the results.

Enthusiasm For Online Tuition 

enthusiasm for online tuition

For a start, tutors without experience of online tuition were asked whether they would consider teaching online in the future. Notwithstanding the self-selection bias (participants had already elected to take a survey on online tuition) these preliminary results were interesting because they revealed differences across subjects.

Those tutoring sciences, foreign languages and secondary (high school) level subjects showed the most enthusiasm for the idea.

In addition, these tutors were among the most likely to report that they’d had to turn down tutoring work because they don’t yet tutor online. As many as a third of such tutors were turning down work because they didn’t offer online tuition, which suggests significant demand for this type of tutoring.

Use Of Technology

use of technology

When it comes to technology, the vast majority of tutors were using simple, well-known technologies in their online tutoring. Over 80% were using Skype, and very few were currently using the bespoke online learning software.

use of payment systems

As for accepting payments, most tutors kept things very simple as well, with bank transfers and Paypal being almost equally as popular.

Attitudes Of Parents Towards Online Tuition

Attitudes of parents towards online tuition

We also asked tutors about the attitudes of parents towards online tuition. The top two reasons why parents seem to be choosing online tuition were:

  • It is more convenient than face-to-face tuition.
  • They couldn’t find a suitable tutor in their local area.

What was more surprising, however, is that another popular reason was that the family was living abroad and needed to follow a UK curriculum.

This finding echoes the emerging market in preparing foreign children to study at British private schools. One expert in this area commented that:

“I think that technology has improved enough for parents abroad to have confidence that the quality of tuition online is not affected. The standard of education varies between countries and I sense parents like to have a British tutor to regularly assess whether their child is at the necessary standard before starting their education in Britain.”

Other tutors, however, had come across resistance from parents, citing it as one of the barriers to online tuition. One respondent stated:

“I’ve had a lot of people turn down tuition from me because it's online and not face-to-face. (...) No other reason given, just ‘we’d rather in person’.”

Main Barriers To Online Tuition

Barriers to online tuition

Resistance from parents wasn’t the greatest barrier to online tuition identified by tutors.

For most tutors, it was the lack of available information about online tuition which presented the greatest barrier. Indeed, there are often misunderstandings about how online tuition works. For example, some people believe that that it is complicated, or that it involves pre-recorded videos or software and not a live human tutor.

On the other hand, those who actually try online tutoring –both clients and tutors– are often surprised at how simple it can be. For example, use of Skype and Paypal can be all that’s required for a successful online learning session.

Aside from this, the major barriers identified by tutors were mainly associated with the online medium itself. These included:

  • The problem of adequate broadband width and technology.
  • Seeing what the student is doing.
  • Establishing rapport with both the student and parents.
  • The increased levels of concentration required for learning online.

Those teaching special needs also had doubts about the benefits of the medium when a child required a multi-sensory approach to learning.

The Future For Online Tuition

Despite these hurdles, some tutors are clearly strong converts.

One tutor commented that they “Think it is the future, definitely”, and another noted that “I tutor exclusively online now. It has been the best single improvement I have ever made to my tuition business”.

The convenience of online tuition is undoubtedly a strong draw for both families and tutors. If the experience of online tutors is anything to go by, as the technology improves and as parents and the public become better informed about this kind of tutoring, demand for online tuition will certainly increase.

For more details on tutors responses, read the full report at www.thetutorpages.com/online-tuition.

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