The traditional test prep tutoring session is not going the way of horse and buggy any time soon. In-person, private sessions are still the method of choice for many. But when tutors are locally scarce, or when time or distance present their pesky challenges, more and more families are turning to the digital convenience of tutoring through their online device.
How does the live online experience compare to live and in-person? Live online “voice over internet protocol” (VOIP) systems such as Skype, Google Hangouts, and Facetime have improved real-time sound and video interaction, which allow for near-seamless communication. If both student and teacher have strong internet connections, they can chat as they would face to face, with high-tech screen sharing or low-tech white board to supplement the conversation. Student and tutor each have the added convenience of choosing their location. The “rest of life” can happen right after signoff, not after another car trip.
Which app? Skype and Google Hangouts are available across all platforms, but Facetime is only available on iOS and OSX devices (see a discussion of ease of use here). Skype and Hangouts offer more features than Facetime, but most of the added features, such as group chat, texting, and international calling, do not apply to the one-on-one tutoring process anyway. Skype and Hangouts require both parties to download apps and sign up for accounts, which get in the way of fast startups when tutoring time is limited. Overall, Facetime’s simplicity of use and clear video and audio connections make it my preferred tutoring vehicle.
Can’t find a good tutor in your area? Did your favorite tutor relocate? No time to drive your student to sessions? Try online. Once you’re up and running, you’ll wonder why you didn’t try it sooner.
Patty Camloh is a Chariot Learning SAT/ACT Test Specialist who works with our students coast to coast, mostly from the relative comfort of Syracuse!