With colleges closed for the foreseeable future, academics have valiantly turned to a wide range of video conferencing platforms to ship ongoing schooling, however many face technical hurdles utilizing platforms that had been by no means designed with their wants in thoughts. They proceed to do their finest and we’re seeing them heroically persevere.

Distant instructing

We’ve all seen the pictures within the press and on social media of a number of youngsters on a video conferencing name. That is heart-warming and an effective way of making certain communication between remoted college students. In these tough occasions, colleges are utilising the net classroom with college students who’re at an identical degree. Nonetheless, it’s arduous to take care of the eye of 30 youngsters for combined capability courses.

Different platforms, in the meantime, fight various skills by massively decreasing the teacher-student ratio, various studying occasions and conducting thorough preliminary attainment assessments.

By establishing a benchmark for each pupil, you make sure you don’t lose them by transferring too shortly or neglecting to deal with areas through which they’re not proficient. That is extra vital than ever now as youngsters will likely be in all places when it comes to attainment with some mother and father home-schooling and others doing comparatively little (by way of no fault of their very own).

The scheduling issue can be vital. We’ve discovered a number of the different provision college students we work with study higher exterior of the usual faculty timetable, and that is mirrored within the present Covid actuality. With mother and father desperately scrabbling to work for home while looking after their children, flexibility in terms of when learning happens is key to delivering a decent level of education. Interestingly, giving excluded pupils more flexibility regarding the times they study, has increased attainment and attendance rates (from three percent to 55 percent in some instances). 

But not all tutoring platforms are created equal. Some use university students to deliver lessons, and while they may be well-intentioned, these students are not teachers. Teachers spend years training to teach and are not easily substituted, a fact which I’m sure is quickly dawning on the UK public.

Capable substitute

Online tuition is often considered inferior to its face-to-face equivalent. However, in some instances it’s better suited and we may find that the current reality permanently changes the poor perceptions of this form of education. Online tuition is commonly used for students who have been excluded from school, and it has proven a uniquely effective way of keeping students on task while they’re outside of the classroom.

Of the 123,100 fixed period exclusions across the UK in 2017-18, the most common cause was persistent disruptive behaviour – accounting for 30 percent of fixed period exclusions. A significant cause of disruptive behaviour in class is anxiety surrounding education. However, remove the student from the environment, provide them with dedicated support and you can give them a chance to get back on track. You can also pair them with the most appropriate teacher – one teacher on our books lives on an Hebridean island and works fantastically well with some of our most challenging students.

Online teaching means that the teacher is not encroaching on the student’s space and there is no peer pressure or classmates to disrupt. This makes many children feel more comfortable and focused, subsequently increasing attainment. Many students, including those with special educational needs, also find it easier to communicate online than in person, and are more prone to ask questions than if they had to raise their hand in class.

Lesson learned

The Education Endowment Foundation’s (EEF) 2018 trial showed that low-cost, personalised tutoring, can boost struggling pupils’ maths results by three months. We’ve certainly experienced this with some students making as much as four weeks progress in as little as  one hour.

Advantages inherent in online tutoring have set us up well to respond to the global coronavirus pandemic and we’ve been rushing to recruit more teachers – both ones usually involved in face to face tuition as well as supply teachers who no longer have physical lessons to cover.

A focus on current ability and teaching schedule flexibility are important to ensuring online platforms can pick up wherever schools were forced to leave off. Ultimately, we hope that this experience will allow us to prove to the world that online tutoring isn’t just a poor substitute for ‘real’ teaching, but a valuable service which caters to every child as an individual learner.

Simon Barnes is Founder and CEO of TLC Live

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