How to Tutor Online: A best practice guide

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Updated  Paula Antalffy

For many years online tutoring has been an important part of the tutoring industry. Online learning has allowed tutors and students from around the world to connect. More recently, due to social distancing, online tutoring is the only tool available for many.

Continuing to learn is more vital now than ever before. In this blog, you can find out a bit more about how to start tutoring online, and what you need to do to ensure your online lessons are a success!

Here is a brief video summarising our blog:

Getting Started

To begin with it is important to learn a bit more about what you will need to teach online. There are lots of tools available to facilitate long distance learning, however, it can often be difficult to choose the right one for you. The most important thing to remember is that the tools you use should be suited to your teaching style.

Here are a few things you might want to consider when choosing online learning tools:

How do you want to interact with your students? With tutoring online it is important to consider how you will connect with your students. You should think about whether you need to set up a call or video chat for the lesson. Utilizing a tool which can help you connect with your students in real time can help engage them. It also means you are able to make sure your students are getting the most out of the class.

Before you choose a tool, confirm you know what you are looking for. You may want to think about some of the following questions:

  • Do you want to see your students? Is a voice call enough?

  • Do you need to use the tool all throughout your lessons, or just periodically?

  • Are some of your students more comfortable talking over a chat?

  • Are the tools you are choosing to use safe and secure?

If you are looking for a free video chat you have a number of different options to choose from such as:

How to Tutor Online: A best practice guide

Do you need a collaborative work space? If you are looking to have a collaborative work space where you and your students interact you may want to use an online whiteboard, or a document sharing software. These tools can allow your students to interact with lesson material online in real time. For those wanting to highly engage their students during a lesson, this is a great option!

As with video chat services, you can find lots of different online whiteboards ranging from Free to Premium pricing. You will also need to understand what you need for teaching online in order to choose which tool you want to use.

If you are looking for a free tool to collaborate with your students through you could consider using:

  • Google Docs: collaborative documents, powerpoints and excel files

  • Bramble: online whiteboard with video chat, screen recording, and a collaborative space.

  • Zoom Whiteboard: easy to use real time document annotation

You might also want to think about whether you want to use a premium service for a monthly subscription. These tools are usually able to provide you with a more extensive set of features.

Some tools you can use include:

Are you familiar with the tools you are using? Once you have figured out what tools you will use, it is very important to make sure you are familiar with how they work. Ensure you spend some time learning how the whiteboard or video chat you are using works before beginning your classes.

You might also want to think about briefing your students if you are using a collaborative workspace. Most online whiteboard and video chat providers have a great FAQ section on their website, meaning you and your students can quickly familiarize themselves with these tools.

How to Tutor Online: A best practice guide

Before the Lesson

Before your online lesson make sure that you are fully prepared for your class. If you are new to online tutoring it is easy to forget some of the materials you may need for your class, which could disrupt your work flow.

Here are a couple things you might want to consider before your lesson:

Are you teaching in the right space? It can often be difficult to find a quiet spot in your house to host your lessons. Any excess noise or background activity could distract you and your student, so making sure you do have a space where you can teach is important.

Mentally prepared for the lesson! Spending some time before the lesson getting into the correct mindset can help you perform the best.

Is the student aware the lesson is happening? Unlike with fact-to-face tutoring, lessons online require a bit more planning. Since it may be more difficult to track a student down if they don’t show up, timely reminders can be very useful . Make sure your student knows and has confirmed that they will be attending the lesson. Setting up automated reminders is a great way to ensure your students are reminded that their class is starting soon every time!

Are you having any technical difficulties? It is important to remember before your lessons that online tools can occasionally be unreliable. Making sure you have a backup option incase of technical difficulties can be a lifesaver!

How to Tutor Online: A best practice guide

During the lesson

The most important thing to remember when running a lesson online is to be adaptable. As mentioned above, technology isn't always reliable. Working from home means there are likely to be more distractions.

Here are some things you should be prepared for during your online lessons:

  • What can you do if your student's camera or microphone doesn’t work?

  • If the student can’t access online resources how will you solve this issue?

  • How can you keep the student engaged throughout your lesson?

  • What can you do to refocus your students if there is a sudden distraction?

Remember to communicate your ideas as clearly as possible. With video calls it is normal for audio to be a little unclear from time to time, so feel free to repeat key bits of information. It is also important to remember that sometimes less can be more. Giving your students enough time to think and solve problems means they will have a more rewarding experience.

How to Tutor Online: A best practice guide

After the Lesson

Following a lesson it can be useful to give students feedback on their class as well as pointers for what they can do to improve. Using a tool which has a report function will allow you to send information to your students after the lesson.

Most online whiteboards and video chat services usually give you the option to record lessons. You should consider whether this is something you want to utalize. Recording sessions with students, and sending it to them can allow them to look over parts of the lesson they were unsure about.

Some tutors find it useful to give tasks to students outside of lessons, such as videos and worksheets. Sharing these resources with the student after a lesson will ensure that they can learn more about a topic they are interested in. If you are providing these resources, figure out what is the best way to share these with students.

Here are a few ways you could engage your students outside of class:

  • Make short videos explaining a particular topic or problem.

  • Create a refresher quiz you can send to students before each lesson.

  • Send your students worksheets they can fill out.

Once you are done with the lesson, it is important to schedule the next one. This way you can ensure your students keep learning and improving!

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If you would like to find more tips about teaching online click here to read our other blogs.

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