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 apprehensive.
I asked myself:
- How can I establish rapport?
- How can I provide feedback?
- How can I see what the student is doing?
- How can I 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
I am going to provide you with some tips to support students online. If you are an educator, use these tips to start your online tutoring job. 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 online. The tutor and the family should determine the best platform for connecting to meet your needs and comfort level.
Sharing documents online
When working on an assignment or reading something together, make sure you each have a copy before beginning. If it is a document, many phones now have apps to send and scan a document so that you can both have access to it.
Google allows you to share screens or documents. I love GoogleDocs when helping a student with writing because we can talk to each other over GoogleTalk and work simultaneously using the GoogleDoc feature.
Building a rapport with students
Building a rapport is still possible, even when in separate locations. We begin a face-to-face tutoring session by checking in, setting goals, and focusing. Online tutoring sessions should also start with this communication.
Other ways to share work online
Online tutoring can be done via video chat, making it very easy to use whiteboards to explain concepts, show text annotations as you read, or any other visual key to help build understanding. Skype and GoogleHangout both have the option to share your screen. This means if you are working in another program or reading something online, you can very easily share the resource.
It might take time to get used to online tutoring. Still, the benefits for the environment, the ease with which you can meet, and the ability to maintain support and rapport are excellent reasons to consider the online platform.