5 Common Objections to Online Tutoring Answered

1) I don’t learn well online

When COVID hit, teachers and students had no choice to switch to online learning overnight.  Understandably, it wasn’t a good experience for anyone involved.  But online tutoring is not the same as online school. I’m here with you on the call. We can see each other. We can hear each other. You can see how I solve the problems on Google Jamboard. We can work with your technology so I can see how you’re doing the problems. What would be different if I were there in person instead of being online?

2) I tried an online tutor and it didn’t work

While I can’t comment on your experience with the other online tutor, I can say that each tutor operates differently. An ineffective in-person tutor will still be ineffective online.  An awesome tutor who has mastered their online tools can be every bit as effective as when they tutored in person.

3) It’s hard to connect with an online tutor

Chances are, you (or your Zoomer children) have a few friends that only hang out with online.  It could be a someone from halfway around the world that you met on a Facebook group, Discord group, or through playing video games.  You might have an online-only relationship with someone who moved to another country and video calling is the best way to connect.  Whatever the case, it is quite normal to build relationships with people that we don’t see in person in this day and age.

In my view, teaching and learning is teamwork, so the relationship between a tutor and student is central to the student’s academic success.  To that end, I make sure students can see me clearly and that my sound quality is good.  As much as possible, I like to see my students’ faces and gather as many non-verbal cues as possible.   The students and I talk about the work at hand no differently than if I were there in person, and with the collaborative whiteboard, we can really work together at the same time.  Furthermore, if you live in Vancouver proper, I do come around during certain times of the year JUST to meet with you in person.

4) Online tutoring just isn’t the same though, is it?

It’s not the same, because it’s better.  Let me explain the 5 ways in which online tutoring beats in-person tutoring.

  1. You get full use of the time you paid for…when I don’t need to take off my shoes, get settled, wait for you to put the dogs away so they’re not a distraction, or use your bathroom because I go to four houses in one evening.  If you live in a large building, the trip from the parking lot to your dining room table takes up considerable time.
  2. The tutoring notes we work on will never be lost because they are in your Google Drive folder until the course ends.  Students tell me that they review the Jamboards (the collaborative online whiteboard) before a test because it is useful to them.  Note creation is much faster with a computer than writing and drawing diagrams by hand.
  3. You can access my resources quicker and easier.  When I used to do in-person tutoring, some of my resources were at home.  I mean, it isn’t practical to drive around with a trunk full of books.  So sometimes students would wait until I drove home at the end of the night to text them extra practice problems.  Some worksheets were in digital form on cloud storage and I allowed students access on an as-needed basis on my phone.  The student would have to pull it up on their laptop and print it, or do the questions from the screen.  That is, I was half online when I was an in-person tutor anyway.
  4. Location doesn’t matter.  Last summer, I had two brothers preparing for next year’s math course over the summer.  At that time, they lived a ferry ride away but were moving to Vancouver in the fall to start the school year.  They covered a fair amount of ground over the summer and this would not have been possible had it not been for online tutoring.  This summer, I have two sisters committed to upgrading their math skills this summer.  They are travelling back and forth between two regions in my province, but math is a priority for them.  Since tutoring is online, this is no problem!  More on location…I used to reserve weekday late afternoons and early evenings exclusively for students in one small but dense area in Vancouver because this is where driving from one house to another house in under 15 minutes was possible.  If you lived outside of this area, you did not get your pick of times.  That’s not fair, is it?!  Well, no, but now that the driving route is not a consideration, there is a better chance that you get a time you prefer no matter where you live.
  5. The FLEXIBILITY!  Look, last scheduling problems happen.  If it doesn’t inconvenience me to help you, I will help you.  One time, a student had a Zoom call about a scholarship go over time.  It just so happened that I was scheduled for my dinner break after this student.  No problem, I rearranged my dinner plans and the student still got the full hour.  If this had been in person, this would not have been possible.

5) I have no way to get a reliable internet connection.

You are right.  Online tutoring probably won’t work well in this case.

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