5 Huge Reasons Why Tutors Should be Using Online Tutoring in 2020
by Dr Scott R. Dempsey on 7th February, 2020
If you have tutored in the last year, there's a good chance you will have done some of it online or at least thought about doing so. If not, you could be missing out on some huge benefits for you and your students. Today, we'll discuss 5 of those benefits in depth.
In 2017, we wrote a short piece on why online tutoring is great for tutors. In it, we highlighted 3 main benefits:
- You can teach more
- You can teach globally
- You can teach better
Since 2017, we have seen the online tutoring industry continue to grow. On Bramble alone, the volume of online tutoring has increased by 400%. Armed with this data and recent feedback from our top online tutors (who delivered 6000+ hours of online tutoring last year), we thought it was time to return to the topic armed with fresh insight for the new decade.
1. More Sessions = More Teaching = More Income
Whether your tutoring is full-time or part-time, your primary income source or supplementary, or even part of a social enterprise; you will be able to do more of what is important to you.
As a former professional (and now part-time) tutor, I was always limited to a maximum of 3 sessions a night when travelling and that was when they were in the same area. If you are travelling around cities or driving on busy roads between the typical weekday tutoring hours of 5pm and 9pm, then even two sessions might be a stretch. Furthermore, planning to get all of your sessions in specific regions on particular nights can be a logistical nightmare. One cancellation can throw an entire evening in to disarray, particularly in holiday times when schedules need to be flexible and dynamic for students and parents.
Being limited to 2 or 3 sessions a night can be particularly frustrating during busy seasons when demand is high and you end up turning more people away than you can help. Tutoring online allows you to maximise your time available for tutoring. You can also extend your hours. You wouldn't want to turn up to someone's house on a weekday evening after 9 pm but many students are happy learning online until later in the evening, particularly those nocturnal teenagers.
2. Less Travel = Less Stress = Lower Expenses
There are numerous benefits to not having to travel from home-to-home, particularly during the busy evening rush hour periods when tutors are most active, these include:
- Not turning up late to sessions
- Saving on car mileage and petrol costs
- Reducing your carbon footprint
Not turning up late to sessions
Have you ever experienced being stuck in traffic and late for your first session of the evening?
Knowing that it will potentially make you late for all of your sessions that night?
It is not a particularly pleasurable experience, and while you can contact the parent and let them know, it doesn't make the situation any less stressful - particularly when it is a first session with someone new.
Anyone who has tutored in-or-around areas where they are commuting by car has likely experienced this. The after-effects can be even worse. Rather than turning up to a session calm and ready to teach, you turn up late, stressed and flustered. More often than not, this has a knock on effect on the quality of the session you deliver, which is the last thing you want. Particularly when all of this can be avoided through simply removing the need to travel.
Saving on milage and petrol costs
Not only can online tutoring increase your income by freeing up more time to teach, it will also save you a lot of money on petrol or bus/train fares, which can really make a difference if you are operating a self-employed business. In fact, this could be a make-or-break factor if you are a professional and tutoring is your main source of income. I used to clock up 8,000 hours of mileage each year when I was commuting from home-to-home. That means that moving the majority of my tutoring online is saving me £3,600 per year.
Reducing your carbon footprint
Another huge benefit of not commuting to students homes every day is that you will significantly reduce your carbon footprint. Online tutoring on Bramble alone saved a total of 14,905,543 kms of travel in 2018 and 16,972,591 kms in 2019. That's the equivalent of 182 people's annual carbon footprint, or 1,818 tonnes of CO2 from car emissions. Amazingly, it’s also saved the equivalent of 17.5 years of travelling by car.
3. Teach Globally = Location Independence = More Choice & Flexibility
As we outlined in our 2017 review, online tutoring opens up the world for you to apply your craft. There are 3 fantastic benefits to this:
- You can be location independent
- You can choose when to teach and how much tutoring you want to do
- You have more choice over who you would like to teach
Be location independent
Being location independent is a real luxury to have today with any form of work. There are many scenarios where this is an advantageous:
- You live rurally and there is not much demand for tutors
- You want to move locations and would like to continue with your current students
- You can live in any country and/or work while travelling
- You can continue to teach through illness and disability
- You can continue tutoring your students if they change locations
- You can tutor around commitments which keep you at home, such as young children
In just the last week, we've heard from a couple of new mums who are delighted with the fact that they're able to continue tutoring whilst looking after their baby. Alternatively, if you're a recent graduate who wants to spend some time travelling the world, you will find that £1,000 earnt tutoring online goes a lot further in Thailand than it does in the UK!
Choose when and how much you tutor
Above, I mentioned the limitations of tutoring offline, particularly during the week. You are typically restricted to a few hours after school or college finishes. With online tutoring, you can really take advantage of time-zones and work the hours which suit you. For example, being based in the UK, I will often tutor Chinese students in the morning, middle-eastern students in the afternoon, and European and UK students in the evening. If I wanted to work later into the evening, I could also work with students from the US and Canada.
Education is a truly global market, but the only way to take advantage of it is to get online.
Choose who you would like to teach
Because there will inevitably be a smaller pool of students in your local area (even in cities), it is likely you will agree to tutor most students who approach you. I have certainly done this, despite knowing that perhaps they are not the best fit for me and vice versa. That usually leads to a frustrating experience. Moving to online tutoring enables you to really focus on your particular niche of students that are the best fit for you. This leads to a far more fulfilling, rewarding, and ultimately, successful experience for all parties. When your audience is global, you can afford to be far more selective about who you want to work with and who you can provide the most value to as a tutor.
To show that it isn't just me, here are some thoughts from other tutors who have clearly benefited from being able to tutor online:
“It enables me to continue working with the same student regardless of his family's transfers - or my own. It's convenient for me not having to drive anywhere. Last minute cancellations are no big deal. It's helpful for me not to have to arrange childcare.”
Melissa (Multiple subject tutor, 65 hours on Bramble last year)
“For me it is invaluable, as someone with an unpredictable chronic illness it has been hard for me to be a consistent tutor offline as I often have to cancel due to illness. By having access to online tutoring it means I can be there for my students at all times and provide a dependable service.”
Terri (Psychology and English tutor, 54 hours on Bramble last year)
“It saves a lot of time and hassle. There is no worrying about the time or money wasted in travel. There is no worry about accidentally damaging something in the students house. It is a lot easier to record things and come back to them for reference. Finally, sometimes the tutor themselves might suffer from anxiety and also benefit from being online.”
Mark (Maths tutor, 78 hours on Bramble last year)
“Flexibility in where I can tutoring and when. Especially as a university student with a hectic schedule.”
Rediet (Maths & Physics tutor, 52 hours on Bramble last year)
“It gives students flexibility on when to schedule a class and to helps them find top tutors without geographic constraints.”
Sofia (Maths tutor, 55 hours on Bramble last year)
“I recently dropped all my in-person students because I moved to a new area, but was able to continue with my online student. Interestingly, my online student used to be offline until his family moved. We've been able to continue our relationship because of Bramble!”
Stephen (Maths, Science & Languages tutor, 64 hours on Bramble last year)
4. Session Recordings = Better Outcomes + Professional Development
Tutoring online opens up the world of benefits that technology brings and is at the forefront of what we do at Bramble. Perhaps the most transformative benefit is session recordings. Having every session recorded and stored in the cloud enables your students to revisit every session they’ve had with you and revise from those materials. This enables your students (and you as the educator) an opportunity to completely personalise their learning and revision experience.
Teaching online requires a small adjustment from teaching offline but the ability to share your online resources in multiple ways and search your previous sessions for specific resources and materials is certainly more convenient than carrying a bunch of textbooks from home to home. In addition, no more of your valuable tutoring will be lost after the session finishes, providing you with an excellent portfolio of your work.
This brings us to our final point on session recordings - it will actually help you become a better teacher. According to leading expert on peak performance, Anders Ericsson, once you reach a certain level of ability, deliberate practice is required in order to keep improving. A major part of this is to be able to evaluate your own performance, which simply can’t be done offline (unless you are recording yourself tutoring in a home or classroom). The fantastic thing about session recording is that you can look back at them to see what you do well and what you could improve as an educator. For example, I've already learned that I say "basically" way too much when I teach!
“It really is very convenient. You make notes using the whiteboard slides during class and students can refer to them again along with a recording if they didn't fully grasp what was being taught during class.”
SN (Maths, Economics & Biology tutor, 286 hours on Bramble last year)
5. Safety for Tutors = Peace of Mind = Happy Parents
There has been a lot of dicsussion about the lack of regulation in the tutoring industry. In fact, in the summer of 2018 I was asked to go on the Victoria Derbyshire Programme to speak on the issue. Of course, the focus was on the safety of students and making sure that tutors have the appropriate DBS and other background checks. However, it is equally important for tutors to protect themselves when working with children.
I’ve had situations when I’ve been left on my own in the house tutoring while the parent has popped to the shops and this can be uncomfortable, even when you know the family well. Of course it is the responsibility of the tutor to speak with the parents about what is and what is not appropriate offline.
The great benefit of tutoring online, and having all of your sessions recorded, is that it provides a level of protection for all parties through a record of sessions which the tutor, student and parent will have access to.
In case you've lost track, here's a summary of the benefits of tutoring online:
- Saves you time
- Saves you money
- Enables you to teach more
- Enables you to earn more
- Offers you the option to be location independent
- Allows you to decide when you work
- Allows you to decide where you work
- Gives you more choice about who you work with
- Makes you a better educator
- Keeps you protected
Err, where are the downsides again!?