During my first few years of tutoring I was hesitant to try online tutoring because I felt that it would be less effective than having in-person tutoring sessions. I believed that it would be easier to teach someone in person because that was what I was accustomed to. There came a time when I started to experiment with online teaching as I began to record video tutorials for my YouTube channel. It was then that I started to discover the tools needed to be an effective online educator. I started to realize that online tutoring could be a viable option.
With the advent of the Surface Pro, the iPad Pro, and a myriad of other tablets that allow pen input, it has become much easier to have effective online sessions. A grainy webcam is no longer required for the student to see what I am writing, or for me to see what the student is writing. It is now simple to share screens by using Skype and to write on digital documents. It is also quite easy to share files using Google Drive or other file sharing applications. Even handwritten notes are quite easy to share now since it is now not difficult to scan documents with the use of a smartphone camera and an app such as Tiny Scanner.
There are several advantages to online learning compared to traditional paper and pen learning. An advantage of online learning is that it is easier for a student to stay organized. It’s harder to lose computer files than it is physical handouts. Even if something were to happen to one’s computer, the files would still be recoverable if one were to store them in the cloud (something like Dropbox or Google Drive). Moreover, keeping documents digital saves a lot of paper, and is, thus, more environmentally friendly than consuming endless amounts of paper. An obvious advantage of online tutoring is that no travel is required on the part of the student or the tutor. The distance between the home of the tutor and the student is no longer an obstacle. Furthermore, it is much easier to have an emergency session just before a test if the session takes place online.
Technology has evolved to the point where an online session can now be just as effective as an in-person session. Over the past year, I’ve grown accustomed to tutoring students online. I use a Wacom tablet to annotate word documents, OneNote files, and PowerPoint presentations. I use a high quality microphone during Skype sessions, so that students can easily hear my voice. The inking tools in Microsoft Office make my writing look even better than it actually is, and allows me to use different colours and stroke widths. I am excited to see what the future holds for technology that complements online teaching.