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In person only tutoring now the least favourite option

by Will Chambers on 13th July, 2021

That went quickly. A year ago we ran our inaugural survey on the state of live online tutoring. With over 2,000 respondents last year, it was the largest survey into tutoring in the UK. We've now completed the 2021 edition with over 2,700 respondents confirming that online tutoring was even more effective this year and that it is most definitely here to stay – the age of tutors teaching exclusively in person is now behind us.

Once again, we are publishing these initial findings before the end of the UK academic year with a view to publishing a more detailed report in the autumn.

Who took part in 2021?

Over 2,700 people took part in the survey: from teachers, tutors and students to parents and organisations. They represented 35 countries but the overwhelming majority of respondents (90%) were from the UK.

What subjects and ages are being taught online?

Maths, English and the sciences remain the dominant subjects that students receive tutoring in. 60% of tutors who completed the survey teach maths and 46% teach English. More than half of tutors teach multiple subjects.

Tutors teach across all age groups too: 70% of tutors work with students aged 14-16, 45% with students aged 11-14 and 41% with students aged 7-11. Over 150 of the tutors surveyed work with students under the age of 7, showing that online tutoring really is for all ages.

Online tutoring is here for the long haul

Last year's survey showed that most people had not experienced live online teaching and learning prior to the pandemic, with nearly 80% of tutors never having taught online. Nearly all tutors (99%), students (98%) and parents (95%) felt their tutoring would continue online through 2020/21 – for obvious reasons. But with pandemic restrictions due to lift over the coming year, how sticky is online tutoring likely to be?

Very, according to this year's survey. 97% of tutors plan for some or all of their tutoring to be online over the next 12 months – that figure is 88% for students and 83% for parents.

When asked for their preference – whether they want to return to in person tutoring – all parties prefer a mix of online and in person. In person only is the least popular choice for tutors and students with only 23% of them wanting a fully in person tutoring experience. Given that just 2 years ago in person tutoring was the default choice, this marks a dramatic shift in attitudes with more than three quarters of tutors and students now preferring to have at least some of their tutoring online. This heralds the end of the dominant pre-pandemic paradigm of in person tutoring.

Online tutoring is even more effective this year

One of the key findings from the 2020 survey was that students overwhelmingly found online tutoring to be more effective than the in person alternative. In 2021, tutor and parent attitudes have shifted further in that direction too with nearly 80% of them finding online tutoring to be more effective or as effective as the in person alternative. Interestingly, organisations have shifted in the opposite direction with only 65% of them finding online tutoring to be more effective or as effective – why do they feel so differently to their tutors and customers?

Benefits of online tutoring for students

We asked the various parties to choose the main benefits of online tutoring for students. The top three remain the same as last year, albeit in a different order. Tutors, students and parents all agree that flexible lesson scheduling, a more relaxed and focused atmosphere and searchable lesson recordings are the primary benefits.

As was the case last year, many respondents felt that searchable lesson recordings perform a dual purpose – not only do they revolutionise revision, they also help to keep tutors and students safe. This year, more people noted a greater choice of tutors as a benefit. Finally, a number of students and tutors reported that they cover more content in their online lessons than they did in person.

Which platform is most effective?

After 18 months of live online teaching and learning most people have become familiar with the pros and cons of a variety of different platforms. We wanted to know which they have found to be most effective. 61% reported Bramble to be most effective. The videoconferencing platforms of Zoom (16%), Microsoft Teams (10%) and Google Meet (8%) were a long way behind.

When asked why they found Bramble to be most effective people focussed on: interactivity for tutor and student, the ease of use and the value of searchable lesson recordings.

This shows the benefit of using a platform which was actually designed to make the most out of online teaching and learning. However, it also emphasises the work to be done in raising awareness given that the videoconferencing giants continue to dominate usage.

Making online tutoring even better

With online tutoring here to stay, what can be done to make the experience even better?

We can continue to make the impossible possible through the unique opportunites afforded by digital delivery. Searchable lesson recordings remain at the forefront of this – Smart Search puts everything students have ever been taught on Bramble at their fingertips so they need never forget a lesson again.

Smart Subtopic Detection offers unprecedented insights into exactly what students are struggling with and CUE Ratings make it easy to track their progress over a block of tutoring. Birds Eye View enriches the group tutoring experience, whilst AI Coach stands to help tutors reflect upon and improve their tutoring.

With well over a million hours already under our belt we're looking forward to continuing to deliver these improvements to all our tutors, students, parents and organisations. We'd like to finish by thanking all 2,700 of them who contributed to making this once again the most comprehensive survey on tutoring.

Bramble is a market leader in the online tutoring industry. An award-winning online tutoring platform which has been used by over 46,000 tutors and students in 148 countries. The experience and knowledge gained from over 350,000 hours of online tuition has given us a unique insight into how people teach and learn online, and ultimately what makes the difference between a poor and a great experience tutoring online.