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, when time or distance present their pesky challenges, or when situations beyond our control make meeting in person untenable, why not join the growing number of families who 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 video conferencing platforms such as Skype, Zoom, 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. Screen sharing has become a common feature as well, which allows for rich instruction and flexible interaction. Best of all, student and teacher each have the added convenience of choosing their location; the “rest of life” can happen right after signoff, not after another car trip.
Which of the many video conferencing platforms works best for teaching and tutoring? Skype and Google Hangouts may have legacy name recognition, but dedicated options like GoToMeeting and Zoom have become very popular in their own right. 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.
Note that some of these platforms require both parties to download apps or 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. However, some other members of the Chariot Learning team swear by Zoom!
Can’t find an amazing tutor in your immediate area? No time to drive to sessions? Did your school shut down because of a pandemic? 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!