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In Person vs. Online Tutoring: What Option is the Best for Your Student? You Might Be Surprised

In Person vs. Online Tutoring: What Option is the Best for Your Student? You Might Be Surprised
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Key Takeaways

  • Choosing the right tutoring method depends on the student’s learning style, the convenience of online access versus the tangible benefits of in-person interaction, and the subject matter being taught.
  • Online tutoring offers significant advantages such as unrestricted access to expert tutors across the nation, flexible scheduling, cost savings, and innovative technology that caters to diverse learning styles.
  • In contrast, in-person tutoring provides enhanced one-on-one interaction, a focused learning environment, and can be particularly beneficial for subjects requiring physical demonstration.

Deciding Between Online and In-Person Tutoring

The first step in selecting the most effective tutoring method is understanding the student’s learning style. Some students thrive with interactive digital tools, while others may prefer the tangible nature of face-to-face instruction. When it comes to subjects that require hands-on experience, such as dancing, music, or painting, in-person tutoring may offer an advantage.

However, convenience factors also play a key role in this decision. Online tutoring services eliminate the need to travel, making it a suitable option for students living in remote areas or with busy schedules. Moreover, online tutoring platforms offer unrestricted access to expert tutors regardless of geographical boundaries, which can be a significant advantage over traditional in-person tutoring.

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Online tutoring offers things that are just not possible in an in-person tutoring environment. For example: progress tracking and review in video format (also safety), ability to pull resources and visuals when needed (for example digital assignments or models to visual concept), and reduced distractions due to home environment. I also like the convenience of not having to be the chauffeur all the time. Victoria, Learner Tutor

How Technology Shapes Tutoring Today

The advent of technology has undeniably shaped the learning landscape. With the majority of universities offering online classes, the shift towards technology-enabled education has become more pronounced.

High-tech platforms facilitate better connections between students and tutors, enabling innovative uses of the internet to explain educational material and cater to a variety of learning styles. It can also prepare students for online classes they might encounter further on in their education journey. 

The Advantages of Online Tutoring

Our tutoring environment allows for use of pen/stylus with writing pad or tablet so that kids can be active participants on the whiteboard, if they so choose. I have a few students that log in from their computer and additionally from their tablet or phone to write notes or write inside the tutoring platform. They can also download the session as notes to their local computer which is super convenient as they can use those as reference when doing homework. Victoria, Learner Tutor

Unrestricted Access to Expert Tutors

One of the most compelling advantages of online tutoring is the opportunity it provides for students to access top tutors nationwide, regardless of their geographical location. This unrestricted access is particularly beneficial for students residing in locations where the availability of expert tutors in specialized subjects may be limited.

Beyond access, online tutoring platforms offer an extensive range of subjects and expertise due to their vast pool of tutors. This means that students can find the perfect tutor to match their unique learning styles and needs.

Renowned tutors, who often have demanding schedules, find online platforms more manageable, as they eliminate the need for commuting. This is especially true in high-traffic areas, where travel can be time-consuming and unpredictable. By teaching online, tutors can optimize their schedules, dedicating more energy and focus to the tutoring sessions themselves.

Technology

Online tutoring leverages the power of technology to enhance the learning experience. For instance, interactive whiteboards and digital tools allow students to engage more fully with the material, and recorded sessions can be rewatched for reinforcement.

Moreover, technology use isn’t just about making learning more engaging; it’s also about preparing students for the future. As more jobs incorporate digital technologies, being comfortable with these tools can give students a competitive edge in universities and even in the workforce.

Convenience and Flexibility

The convenience and flexibility of online learning can’t be overstated. Students can learn from the comfort of their homes, eliminating travel time and costs. This is particularly advantageous for families with busy lives, who can schedule sessions outside of traditional hours.

Moreover, online tutoring offers unique flexibility in terms of commitment. Students aren’t bound to a fixed number of hours and can adapt their learning to changing schedules. The availability of tutors across different time zones extends the potential tutoring hours, accommodating even the busiest of schedules.

Cost-Effectiveness and Savings

Online tutoring can save both students and tutors significant expenses associated with travel and commuting to physical tutoring locations. This cost-effectiveness extends beyond transportation savings. The lower operational expenses and the absence of costs related to physical learning spaces often result in more affordable rates for students. 

Furthermore, subscription models in online tutoring offer students a predetermined amount of tutoring hours each month. This provides flexibility and helps avoid unnecessary financial commitments, making online tutoring a financially smart choice for many students and parents.

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The Benefits of In-Person Tutoring

Enhanced One-on-One Interaction

One of the primary benefits of in-person tutoring lies in the potential for enhanced one-on-one interaction. The face-to-face interaction inherent in this approach enhances communication, allows immediate feedback, and helps build a stronger tutor-student rapport.

In-person tutoring also offers the opportunity for social interaction. For students feeling isolated, this face-to-face interaction can offer a chance to connect with a mentor or role model. Plus, certain subjects, such as music, painting, and dance, may benefit significantly from the physical demonstrations possible in an in-person setting.

Focused Learning Environment

In-person tutoring provides a structured, supervised environment that promotes focus and engagement. Attending sessions in a designated learning environment helps students establish a consistent learning routine and discipline.

Making an Informed Decision: Factors to Weigh

Learning Style and Engagement

A fundamental factor to consider when choosing between online and in-person tutoring is the student’s learning style. Personal interaction is a key component in tutoring, aiding in interpreting non-verbal cues and building trust. 

Many students, as digital natives, may feel more comfortable engaging with tutors online. The ability to rewatch recorded sessions can significantly benefit some students. However, tactile or kinesthetic learners may find these methods less effective. 

Accessibility and Resources

The accessibility of resources is another critical consideration. For effective online tutoring, students need access to a quiet space and a high-speed internet connection. Poor internet coverage can lead to a compromised online tutoring experience, with frequent disruptions in video and voice streaming.

At the same time, having a designated quiet space at home is essential to maximize the benefits of online tutoring, ensuring the focus and participation of the student. 

Logistical Constraints of In-Person Sessions

Logistical constraints are another factor to consider when opting for in-person tutoring. Finding a suitable learning space can be challenging, with considerations for both quietness and public accessibility. However, with a little creativity, alternative locations such as coffee shops, college campuses, or public rooms in apartment complexes may be considered for tutoring sessions, depending on the need for a quiet and study-conducive atmosphere.

Moreover, it’s important to ensure that the tutoring center location allows for focused learning without disrupting other activities within the space, and follows any guidelines or restrictions for use. This is particularly relevant if the tutoring sessions are to be conducted in public spaces like libraries or city buildings.

Assessing Tutor's Qualifications

When choosing a tutor, it’s important to verify their qualifications, experience, and background. This is true for both online and in-person tutors. Online tutoring platforms usually have rigorous systems in place to assess the subject-specific expertise of potential tutors, ensuring that students are matched with qualified and experienced tutors who have a teaching style that complements their individual learning style.

However, it’s also important to do your due diligence when selecting an in-person tutor. Check their qualifications and experience, and seek references or testimonials if possible. Remember, the goal is to find a tutor who can best meet the student’s unique learning needs and preferences.

Considering Student's Individual Needs

Lastly, taking into account the unique needs of the student is of paramount importance. This includes their comfort level with technology, their social needs, and their unique learning requirements. Some students may have varying levels of comfort when utilizing technology, which can impact their preference for online or in-person tutoring.

On the other hand, some students may have a strong need for social interaction and could benefit from the personal interaction offered by in-person tutoring. Moreover, tutoring isn’t just about academic achievement – it also offers students opportunities to practice and grow important social skills.

Summary

In conclusion, both online and in-person tutoring have distinct advantages that can cater to different learning styles and preferences. The choice between the two should be guided by a thorough understanding of the student’s unique needs, the qualifications and teaching style of the tutor, as well as logistical and resource considerations. Ultimately, the best tutoring method is the one that most effectively facilitates the student’s learning and helps them reach their academic goals.

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About the author:

Mike developed his passion for education as a math instructor at Penn State University. He expanded his educational experience launching and running an Executive Education business - training over 100,000 students per year. As the CEO of Learner, Mike focuses on accelerating learning and unleashing the potential of students. 

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