Online tutoring is the use of the Internet for tutoring activities. It is the process by which a student learns via the Internet with the help of an subject matter expert or a tutor. This type of tutoring can make use of several web-based programs to achieve its goals. Some of these programs or applications are email, an instant messaging, online whiteboards (as provided with Microsoft netmeeting), etc.
Through these programs or applications a tutor can send quizzes, receive accomplished exams, send quiz results and recommendations, teach concepts, etc. Moreover, with online tutoring students can learn at their own pace and from the comfort of their homes.
Online Tutoring Applications
Several programs are needed for online tutoring. One of the most important is an instant messaging application through which the student and the tutor can communicate via text, voice and video. An online whiteboard can also serve as a place where both the student and the tutor can write down, draw, or visualize the concepts that they are discussing.
Online tutoring is most effective when voice, video, graphics, and text can all be used at the same time. However, this option may not be practical for those who are only using dial-up connections or other low-bandwidth Internet connection types. Most of these technologies are tailored for low bandwidth usage, with the exception of real time video, full color document sharing, and high quality sound replication. In most cases, any modern computer purchased post 2005 should easily be able to handle the applications required.
Differences between Regular Tutoring and Online Tutoring
Traditional tutors have an advantage over online tutors as they have physical face to face communication capabilities. This allows traditional tutors to gain a personal rappor for the students being tutored, and allows them to determine with a look what might take significant time to determine over an online tutoring session.
Online tutors have an additional burden as they have to have access to computer equipment, a internet connection, appropriate useful tutorial applications, or applications that suit well for online tutoring, and additional computer hardware that may assist in the tutorial practice. Some of these additional hardware peripherals might include a webcam, headset with microphone, scanner, fax, and drawing tablet.
Because of the limitations in bandwidth and ease of using online tutoring applications or programs, online tutoring requires more time and effort on the tutor's part. With online tutoring, tutors needs to prepare more materials before the session itself to maximize the efficiency of the tutorial session. Online tutors also need more time beforehand to prepare the slides to be used in the course; the whiteboard will be used only to emphasize important points.
Depending on the bandwidth, the size of the class must also be limited to ensure that every student has access to the needed materials. The attention span of students is also shorter in online tutoring than in conventional means. This is because there a lot more distractions like the TV, radio, etc. in an online tutoring class than in a conventional one.
Requirements for Online Tutoring
For online tutoring, the following applications or programs and equipment are required. For maximum effectiveness, a broadband connection with a minimum speed of 128 kilobytes per second is prescribed. This will ensure that the tutoring process will be smooth. A headset containing a microphone and a speaker to be used in conjunction with voice chat applications is also required in order to save on phone bills. An online whiteboard or a shared screen where the lesson will be posted and discussed and a web camera for videos are also necessary.
Security is a primary concern, however; parents must ensure the security of their children. This is possible if parents use only trusted online tutoring sites.