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Online or face to face tuition?

Online or face to face tuition – which is better?

This is a question we get asked a lot here at Peepal Tree Learning! This is to be expected, as any conscientious parent will surely take the time to thoroughly research their child’s tuition and revision support options. Of course, as we offer face to face tuition ourselves, we might be a little biased! But we also know there are many excellent online tuition services out there that help kids get great results in their exams.

There are actually two types of online tuition. The first is ‘live’ sessions with a tutor that take place via a video call. These could be one-to-one or involve multiple students dialling into a ‘virtual classroom’. The second type is a video-based service with interactive features, which the student can access at time to suit them. These tend to focus on self-learning, but there’s usually an option to chat with a tutor and/or fellow students in real time, ask questions that will be answered later, or ask for feedback on work completed.

We’ll consider both types of online tuition in this article as we look at some of the key features of these services versus traditional, face to face tuition.

Cost considerations

As you’d expect, face to face tuition tends to be the most expensive option. This is due to the overheads involved, such as tutor travel and room hire costs. Having said that, some online services can be quite pricey, especially where the student has dedicated, one-to-one sessions with a tutor. It’s worth researching your options, as you could find a local face to face service that’s cheaper.

If you’re on a tight budget, you might prefer to choose video-based tuition. These sometimes offer a basic service for free, although this is unlikely to include any interactive elements such as tutor contact. But if you’re just looking for a useful revision aid for your child, this could work quite well.

Personalised learning

Both face to face and live online tuition sessions can offer students a personalised learning experience, tailored to their pace of learning and individual likes and dislikes. By interacting regularly with the same tutor, students are more likely to develop trust, building their confidence to ask questions or request detailed explanations when they need them.

Having said that, an online-only service could work the other way and actually hamper the development of the tutor-student relationship. This is partly because it’s harder to read body language on-screen than it is face to face. And as any teacher will tell you, reading a child’s body language can pay dividends when it comes to offering the right learning experience.

Video-based services vary in terms of personalised learning. Whilst students can pick and choose which activities they want to work on, and study at their own pace, there may be no personal relationships to speak of. This isn’t always the case though, as some services work with schools to complement their in-classroom activities. So, the student will interact with their usual teacher online as well as school, which could have a positive impact.

Student safety

This is an important consideration for many parents. If you’re not able to take your child to and from face to face tuition sessions yourself, you may be worried about their personal safety whilst they’re travelling.

Live online sessions can therefore seem like a safer option. But please be careful and do your research before appointing a tutor. It’s a sad fact that there are some unscrupulous people out there posing as tutors when they’re really something very different.

Bearing all this in mind, video-based services are perhaps the safest option. Whilst there may be opportunities to chat online and interact with tutors and other students, these tend to be limited, with the student working alone most of the time.

Learning environment

Many people feel that the best place for a student to learn and prepare for exams is in a traditional classroom-based environment. There are no distractions, making it more likely that they’ll give their full attention to their work. Having the tutor and other students present also encourages them to interact – asking questions and bouncing ideas off their peers.

Whilst this can also happen in a live online environment, it can be much harder to engage with people you can only see in a corner of a computer screen. What’s more, if the student is dialling into a session from home (live or video-based), all kinds of distractions could take place, from browsing their social media pages to interruptions from siblings.

Peer pressure

A lack of peer pressure is perhaps the biggest advantage that a video-based tuition service can offer. It’s up to the student what they study and at what pace, and there’s often no obligation to interact with anyone else. It can be the ideal solution for a child who feels upset, frustrated or embarrassed that their peers at school are doing better than them.

On the other hand, if a child in this situation can be persuaded into face to face tuition, a supportive and personalised learning environment could do wonders for their confidence as well as their academic performance.

Convenience and flexibility

This is another benefit of video-based tuition. It’s especially relevant to children who have a lot of extra-curricular activities that they don’t want to give up. Study sessions can be fitted around football practice, music lessons, drama classes and so on, with the option to work at weekends if they prefer.

Whilst live online services may offer an element of flexibility, this can be problematic with face to face tuition. This is because teaching venues are generally hired on a set basis for the same time and day each week. It’s worth asking around, however, as you may be able to arrange one-to-one tuition in your own home at ‘unusual’ times.

Let us know your thoughts!

We’d love to know what YOU think about the different types of tuition that are out there. After all, there’s something for everyone and the range of choice can only be a good thing for our kids. So why not drop us a line at Peepal Tree Learning and share your thoughts?