Online learning has become an integral part of education, especially in recent years; since 2000 it has grown globally by 900%. The widespread adoption of digital technologies and the internet has transformed how knowledge is accessed, shared, and disseminated. 

Online learning offers numerous benefits such as flexibility, accessibility, and scalability, making it a valuable complement to traditional classroom-based education. 

However there has been a disparity between our schools and these advancements, a lack of  investment in education; in technology, digital literacy and training teachers on online pedagogy,  has meant that our schools have not been ready for the changes needed. 

My Journey to becoming an Online Tutor

I first started tutoring on a very small scale in 2015 after the birth of my second son. I had made the decision to take a break from my full time classroom job to spend time with my children whilst they were young, though I had planned to return once my youngest started school.  I joined online tutoring groups and was increasingly aware of the number of tutors moving online and teaching globally. I was really enjoying tutoring and it worked well for our family and for me the next logical step was to move online.  I remember reading an article in July 2018  The Next Revolution In eLearning Is Coming… 

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I wanted to be part of this revolution!

I needed to equip myself with the technology, improve my digital literacy and adapt my pedagogy to teach effectively online. I invested a lot of time completing courses and training for my professional development. It was time well invested as I now work exclusively tutoring online which I love. What I could never have anticipated was that the world would be joining me there.  


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The Pandemic – Zoom Life

At the start of  2020  a new coronavirus ‘Covid 19’ swept the world and we saw countries locking down across Europe, inching closer and closer to us. We watched news reports of normally buzzing cities and towns deserted, except for officials donning hazmat suits. People face-timed from their confined homes on how life in lockdown was.  Like  a 1980’s disaster movie there was an inevitability that we were next. 

No one was ready for disruption on this scale.  The world was gripped with panic, fear and disbelief.  Education systems world wide were challenged.  How would children continue to be educated amidst the chaos?  However in all the madness the one thing that was really on our side was that technology connected us; we were alone together.

Suddenly the world was online. 

“Brilliant!” you might think for online tutors, finally everyone understood how great it was, the convenience and ease it provided. People could now see the potential of working online.   Prior to Covid online tutors had to explain how you use Skype and zoom for lessons, now everyone was using Zoom.  

Zoom was one of the fastest growing apps of the pandemic; meeting participants increased by 2900%

However, although the world of education was now online, sadly many families’ first experience of online teaching and tutoring was very negative.  Many teachers were foisted into the online world, ill prepared technologically with poor digital literacy and without the know-how to adapt their pedagogy. Schools struggled to get to grips with technology; they sent learning packs home and uploaded presentations but with limited technology* and a lack of understanding of how to make lessons interactive or engaging, children were bored.  They were expected to work predominantly independently with a lack of group discussion and with their mikes on mute.  Teachers felt judged as parents sat in on lessons, many hated it as much as the children.   

*Independent research has shown that there has been an effective 15-year real-terms freeze in school funding…  

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The ‘face to face’ tutoring world went online too.  Again like within schools there was a lack of technology and knowledge, yet most tutors bumbled along until they got to grips with it.  Many tutors hated the experience and couldn’t wait for the world to open up again so that they could return to face to face. Whereas others loved it, Sarah commented I thought I’d struggle but I embraced it and it works for me and my students better than face to face”.

The pandemic  helped and equally hindered my transition to online. It was brilliant that I was able to immediately move my face to face clients online. 

However there were two negative aspects for me;

  • whilst others less knowledgeable (at the time) were able to jump on the online bandwagon and threw themselves wholeheartedly into it – I could not! My move into tutoring was always about balancing work and home life.  With schools closed I had my own children home who needed support. 
  • Poor online teaching and distant learning put potential clients off. 

The negative impact of poor online teaching

Dedicated online tutors were now faced with the dilemma of convincing clients that online tuition wouldn’t be anything like the distance learning or poor online tuition they’d experienced. This was an experience other online tutors faced too, one shared in our tutoring network  “I think a lot of people still consider online to be similar to a lot of lockdown learning which many students struggle with and hence are reluctant to try.”

My tutees’ families began telling me how frustrated they were with their children’s schools and could see a vast difference with my quality online tutoring versus that which they experienced with their children’s schools. I was so thankful for the course I’d bought and the online community I had for support.  

Separating the good from the bad

I quickly realised a few things about online tuition and what separated the good from the bad. Any primary teacher will tell you that teaching the EYFS is very different to teaching a Year 6 class, so too does online tuition differ from  face to face.  Of course there are transferable skills, but the pedagogy is quite different. Here are some of the key differences I’ve found;

Online tuition moves at a faster pace. 

Preparation is key

You need to have lessons well prepared and lots of resources ready at the click of your mouse. In ‘face to face’ lessons you can reach for a book and open the required page, your student’s eyes follow you to the bookcase and watch as you turn the page, they remain engaged, whereas online they’re staring at a screen, so you must have pages pre loaded.

Investment is important

Tutees need to clearly see and hear their tutor, so good lighting and a quality microphone are essential. Super fibre broadband ensures zoom runs smoothly especially if sharing video. Online educational subscriptions enhance lessons, especially those which have interactive games that the children can play by taking remote control.

Make it interactive

It must be interactive, online collaborative whiteboards mean work can be shared and worked on collaboratively in real time.  With face to face tuition both tutor and tutee would be crouched over a shared laptop or page, and would have to work by taking turns.  In my experience students are more engaged online and the big advantage is being able to make eye contact whilst we work, whereas with face to face tutoring you are ironically usually side by side. Collaborative whiteboards also eliminate the need to send work via email attachments and saves parents scanning or photographing homework to email back.

Views from the tutoring world

I asked some tutors within the tutoring community for their views of online tuition versus face to face. It sparked some lively debate.  Some had already ventured online pre Covid whereas the vast majority went online as it was the only option to keep working when the pandemic hit. Many since have remained solely online whilst others teach a mix of face to face and online. Some however prefer only face to face as they never adapted. One commented;

“Online is my preference. I have students all over the globe.

I’d never go back to face to face.”


Another commented that her teaching is better online as she has access to more resources and went on to say;

“I do think sometimes when parents say ‘oh he/she doesn’t like online’ it’s more about parental preference than student”.

Jane agrees that negative experiences have put many off online;

“I think a lot of people still consider online to be similar to a lot of lockdown learning which many students struggled with and hence are reluctant to try.  had a number of students last year who were initially reluctant to have online lessons, so tried it out and they all stayed online with me.”  


If you have experienced poor online tuition I would suspect that the person that taught you or your child was doing it not out of choice but out of necessity – when we are invested in something we make it work.  There are many blogs and articles which state the limitations of online tutoring but I’ve often found the reasons listed don’t hold up or are simply untrue.

Having taught several years as a face to face tutor and now having spent over 2000 hours tutoring online, I would argue that online is better than face to face for most children. For every obstacle someone might present with online tuition there is an educator who has found a solution.  Working online is a different type of pedagogy, you need to embrace the technology, improve your digital literacy and be prepared to learn and evolve. Technology is here to stay and will be an integral part of our children’s future.  Let’s embrace it and utilise it to give us the freedom to teach and learn anywhere in the world with online access.  It’s an exciting time to be an educator.  If you’d like to start tuition feel free to complete the online enquiry form and I’ll set up your free online zoom consultation.

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