You’re about to try online tuition for the first time. Great news. It’s a smart choice, often cheaper, and allows you or your child to benefit from the expertise of others who wouldn’t normally be able to travel to your home. It also means your tutor can fit more sessions into their day. It’s a win-win for all involved. But how does online tuition work and what do you need to do before your first lesson?
Find a tutor
You’ll need to hire an online tutor before you can start. Who you hire will depend on a few factors, but will mostly depend on what you want to learn. If it’s for your child, then you may want the reassurances that come with using a respected private tuition agency. Otherwise, there are lots of freelance sites that can help you find what you’re looking for.
Top tips for finding an online tutor
- check they’re happy tutoring online – some tutors may be used to visiting clients homes, though a lack of online experience shouldn’t put you off
- ask if they offer any introductory rates – you don’t want to sign up to a series of sessions before discovering it isn’t right (all our tutors offer 30 mins free introductory sessions for all new online clients)
- If you find a non-vetted, freelance tutor on Google, be wary if they ask for upfront payment
Set up the workspace
To get started, you’ll need
- a laptop, computer, or tablet with a working broadband connection and a webcam
- a pair of headphones with a microphone (most modern smartphone headphones should work)
- a clean, tidy desk
- a private room, or private corner of the room
We advise using headphones to talk to your tutors during online sessions to ensure your conversation remains private, especially if you are working from a public space.
Video conferencing apps
How does online tuition work in terms of technology? You will need to use video-conferencing software to communicate face to face with your tutor. Most video-conferencing apps are free. You should be wary if anyone suggests you have to pay for these.
These are the most common:
– Google Hangouts
– Google Meet
Usually, your tutor will advise which platform they prefer to use and will email you a link to join their “room” in the minutes before your first session starts.
Depending on the software used, following this link will allow you access to their online room instantly, or in some cases, it may prompt you to download the software first before automatically directing you to the room.
Some of the above have advanced screen-sharing functionality which tutors may choose to use to aid their teaching.
There are certain applications that are specifically designed to assist online tutoring, with functionality to work on documents together, so you may be asked to use the following
Work on question papers collaboratively with every session recorded, re-watchable, and searchable.
Another collaborative whiteboard for tutor and pupils to work on together at the same time with extra tutor and pupil friendly features
Google’s home office suite includes a handy document and spreadsheet sharing functionality, which means tutors and pupils can work on documents together at the same time
Traditional “at home” tutoring sessions are typically charged at by the hour. The same is true for online tuition. During Coronavirus Lockdown Minerva Tutors are offering shorter sessions for online of 45 mins or 30 mins each.
Is there a minimum age to begin online tutoring? While this may depend on the maturity and development of the child in question, we currently tutor children from aged 5 upwards, who deal with the format very well.
When you join a private online class, especially if it is one-on-one, it’s a nice idea to spend one or two minutes before the lesson starts catching up on non-education related matters. This helps to put both tutor and pupil in a good frame of mind for the upcoming lesson.