It’s quite clear to me, and anyone else who’s interested in education, that in recent times we’ve witnessed a boom in the trend of online education and homework help.
Every day more people, parents and pupils, log on to search for the extra help they need, but to be honest deciphering the different options isn’t easy; the sometimes intertwining strands of online learning need to be understood first in order to work out which is best for you. Think of it like this: online tutoring differs from private tutoring, private tutoring differs from VLE’s, distance learning courses differ from homework help – you get the picture.
So in an attempt to make it a little clearer, I want to establish what we should expect when we encounter these terms – I’ll look at the changing face of tutoring in this post.
First off, private tutoring is the traditional turn-to point for struggling parents and pupils alike – but for most of us I’d imagine that the cost and associated emotional investment in hiring a long-term private tutor is enough to put the mockers on it becoming anything more than wishful thinking. As well as the cost, it’s more than worth knowing that private tutoring is a wholly unregulated market whereby anyone with an ounce, or less, of academic knowledge can print off a few business cards and be in your home tutoring the next day. The associated dangers with such an unregulated system are obvious.
It’s not all bad of course. The private tutoring sector has steadily grown over the last few difficult years. It is quite normal to see business cards, sometimes even scrawled notes advertising private tutoring services at cafes, library noticeboards and the like. It is a great way for those that can to supplement, or even fulfill a full-time wage, so I’m not knocking private tutoring, just highlighting some of the problems associated with it.
The next stage in our gradual progression from private to online tutoring was our sister site beanbag learning. The idea was to create a searchable database of local private tutors online – enabling anyone that wanted to find, assess and hire a decent, recommended private tutor. The tutor still comes to you; the online element is introduced to make the process easier, transparent and more importantly safer. Given the right teacher, I don’t think anyone would argue with the fact that face to face teaching is second to none.
Then there’s the online tutoring thing. Not as popular in Blighty as other countries, online tutoring pretty much does what it says on the tin. In its standard form, structured lessons are delivered by a tutor to a pupil over the internet. There’s quite often a ‘virtual whiteboard’, whereby the tutor can digitally draw mathematic symbols, explanatory diagrams or whatever they need to get the message across. Sometimes the tutor and pupil are connected via headsets and cams too – targeting all the senses needed for good learning.
I’ll go into more types of online learning in future posts, but for those struggling to work out which way to turn when the going gets tough – don’t worry, you’re certainly not alone.