Meg Glass & Associates, LLC

How Effective is Online Tutoring?


Online Tutoring Options…doe they work?  Are they better than in person?  How do you know if the program or person is reliable?


I have wanted to talk about tutoring options for high school students for a few months now.  I am now taking the time because I have parents, who are seriously in need of financial prudence, choosing to seek an online option as there are so many, and so many seem ridiculously inexpensive.

Online tutoring is not a bad thing!  I do it myself.  However, this avenue, which has reached new heights in Asia, has no real standards or measurements that can be checked often by consumers.  Certainly there are very sound and stable corporations that offer such, and these institutions do back the quality of their product with their name and often guarantee some kind of either 1) additional free tutoring or 2) possibly financial credit, if the tutoring doesn’t work.

However in certain areas the volume of online offerings is extreme, standardized test preparation as well as English language are two such subjects.  I have been asked to look at a few programs to understand if they will work for a particular student.  I have noticed that some are not actual tutoring via some kind of interactive portal, such as Skype, but are really just videos.  Some are professional platforms using Blackboard or some other similar interactive platform.  These, typically, have some software that must be installed by the student before the lessons can begin.  Usually parents have to pay for a series of classes, most of which are videos, in advance.  There are, however, quizzes and tests with these particular programs.

Usually a person can figure out the quality by the price.  Yes, as usual, you get what you pay for! Online tutoring that is selling for $12 or $15 dollars an hour, is usually, not tutoring at all, but small videos of a process or problem for students to work on, and often, the answer is just given, with no feedback from a live source whatsoever.  I believe this is a colossal waste of money.  If a student wants to learn via videos of online classes, Khan Academy offers superior products for free.  YouTube also has myriads of options. I often check YouTube for instructional videos for all kinds of tasks and chores from something about web work to fixing something in the house.  What is available for free is fantastic.

Why do students not take advantage of these free offerings?  Well, since the College Board enlisted Khan Academy to provide the practice test online platform, many students do actually take advantage of the Khan Academy to take a practice test of two.  Some even go a step further and seek the How to explanations for the tests. All test prep companies actually offer an online option with the purchase of their books.  Some of these even have live chat options with the tests so there is some human contact.  Yet, so, so many students get nowhere with online support.  Some are even just bored or discouraged because it is not personal and the student is not held accountable for anything.

Online video flash platforms work exceptionally well with younger students.  Elementary school age children really do advance in some subjects extremely well, particularly math, language, geography, and history.  There are apps that children practice continuously and repeat quite easily what they see, hear, and do.  As the students begin to mature, adolescent hormones kick in, and many become completely distracted and uninterested in the diligence to gain acumen to improve scores or knowledge.  This starts to revert back in college and very much so graduate school level. Online coursework is very popular, and very effective with graduate courses.

What to do with our high-schoolers?  I would ask that parents really not waste money on really inexpensive test preparation online tutoring.  Use the free resources that are tested and supported before spending even $200 for 10 classes online.  If you want to use online, I suggest you have a session with the tutor yourself in advance to see how the entire operation works.

I work with many students online, whom I also work with in person.  When they leave to go away to school or live in another country, I have often made the time to meet them first.  But not all, some I work with based on referrals from others.  I assign homework, have copies of all materials that the student must use, and I also have the ability to record each personal session and send a copy for the students to review constantly if necessary.

Online is great for so, so many educational options, but understand which audience benefits most.  Also do your research on history and experience.  And if necessary do a session yourself so you see exactly what you are paying for!  Contact me if you have questions or concerns about any particular program, I will happily look into it for you.