Not all Online Tutoring is the same: Comparing "apples with apples."
There is currently a huge demand for online tutors across the globe. In addition, there are literally many thousands of online tutors and online tutoring companies.
When parents are considering online tutoring, they need to be incredibly careful about three major aspects and to be sure that when comparing tutors and companies that they compare “apples with apples” to get a true indication of the quality and value of the tutoring.
- The platform used to deliver online lessons.
- The qualifications and background of the tutor.
- Set curriculum versus needs-based tutoring
Most online tutors deliver lessons through Zoom. Personally, I do not rate zoom as an online tutoring platform, especially when there are so many superior options. The truth is most tutors use zoom as they use the free version. This means that there are limited features available. This has a direct impact on the quality of the online lesson.
The Tutoring Company uses a specialized education-based platform designed specifically for tutoring. Students experience personalized, one-on-one tutoring in their own private classroom built especially for them. They can see and talk to their tutor, work on shared documents in real-time, write essays, perform math calculations, label diagrams plus much more. Inbuilt math features, collaborative writing tools, and the ability to write directly in the classroom mean that students can do anything within the room they would do if their tutor were sitting next to them.
No more zoom links to worry about, nor are there any tools or apps to download. Students simply log into their private lessons through their personal account. Simple and easy.
Understandably, many students are hesitant to try online tutoring as they had an unpleasant experience with it in 2020 when many Australian schools delivered home-based schooling during lockdown periods. However, The Tutoring Company's online platform is quite different from what students have experienced. In fact, the most common response from hesitant students is “That’s not what I thought it would be. I love it!”
The other consideration is the quality of the tutor. The primary years are the developmental and formative years of education. This means, that only adequately trained tutors have the required understanding of how children acquire their numeracy and literacy skills. Therefore, Primary years tutors MUST be qualified primary years teachers or studying to become one. Secondary tutors must have an excellent understanding of the course content. For example, simply being good at math does not mean that a tutor understands the specific curriculum content of the different math courses for senior students. Tutors should either be qualified teachers, pre-service teachers, or studying the subject at University and with a proven track record of tutoring.
Finally, ALL tutors must have a Working With Children Check. Parents need to know how to determine the authenticity of the WWCC or teacher registration number, and how to conduct referee checks.
The Tutoring Company carefully conducts background and reference checks on all tutors in addition to tutors participating in a personal interview. Only when a tutor successfully passes all steps in our hiring process are they able to tutor with us.
Set curriculum tutoring is based around students completing lessons as they work through a computer program for their year level. Needs-based tutoring is based on the specific needs of an individual and addresses the issues underlying the skill level. Parents must understand which option is best for their children.
So, when you are looking for an online tutor what questions should you ask?
- What are your qualifications? If you are looking for a primary year tutor, try to have only a teacher or pre-service teacher. These are the only people who understand how children develop their literacy and numeracy skills. Secondary tutors who list a large variety of subjects to tutor should also be avoided unless they have particular qualifications in each subject area.
- Does the tutor have a Blue Card or Working With Children Check? This is a mandatory requirement for all tutors across Australia. Ask for proof! Do you know how to check this?
- If the tutor is a teacher, do they have current registration? Ask for proof! Do you know how to check this?
- What platform is used for online tutoring? A tutor who uses zoom may be cheaper, but is this reflected in the quality of the instruction?
- What understanding do they have of the Australian Curriculum? This is especially important for tutors of Year 11 and 12 students as the curriculum is quite specific. Again, internationally trained tutors may not have any specific understanding of the Australian Curriculum and this can present issues.
- Is it curriculum-based or needs-based tutoring? Students with Learning Difficulties or who are behind their year level are most likely to gain more from needs-based tutoring.