Online Tutoring Platforms
It wasn't until this past fall that I really had a chance to use an online tutoring platform, a.k.a. whiteboard, for a long enough period of time to do a proper evaluation of online tutoring. My conclusion is that online tutoring can be an excellent teaching tool as long as the proper choice of whiteboard is made, and the student and tutor have come together with serious intentions. In addition, both participants need to have the same materials in front of them, so a little preparation is required.
For a period of four months, I tutored a college student in freshman chemistry and two sisters in high school, the older in AP physics, the younger in Regents earth science. Between the three of them, I averaged at least five hours of online tutoring every week. My choice of tutoring platforms was not the best, for I had chosen a free online whiteboard that carried advertisements around some of its borders; I believe the advertisements caused the pen tablet writing speed to be slower than I would have liked. In addition, the ads may have caused a problem with annoying Adobe pop-ups that kept freezing my computer and requiring me to log out and back in. Once we figured out a way around the Adobe problem, things went smoothly. I believe these problems would be eliminated by any of the platforms that do not carry revenue-producing advertisements around their borders. I will test one of these other platforms this coming spring and report my findings.
Any inconvenience of not being next to the person you are tutoring is more than made up for by the convenience of not having to leave your house to meet with someone, and even more so by the ease with which sessions can be scheduled. You can essentially squeeze a session in whenever the student and tutor both have an hour free. It was often the case that I would roll out of bed, walk into my office, and begin a tutoring session at 8 AM with the college student. It doesnít get any easier than that.
The simple fact of these sessions is this: A lot of learning took place with all three students. And, with the drastic price reductions I gave them for online tutoring compared to my private in-person fees, both families really got their money's worth. Overall, the online tutoring experience was very good. With a high-quality whiteboard free of advertisements, I think online tutoring would be an excellent choice for anyone who cannot afford a private tutor coming to the house, or for students who live too far from the tutor they need to work with.
As a final point of interest, the previous year I had tutored these students privately in their respective homes, each of which was an hourís drive from mine, and each with its own bridge toll. So, with every online tutoring session I was eliminating two hours of driving, a bridge toll, gas, wear-and-tear on my car, environmental damage, and the normal risks associated with driving. If you think about it for a moment, that's a profound savings.