Many parents are often too busy to provide the kind of methodical and patient mentoring their children need when studying for an exam, leaving them to sit up all night, and pour through their research material.
Recognising this issue, tutoring providers such as YourTutor are working hard to support the students who need help – or those who simply prefer to receive their coaching and feedback online.
This fast, online help for students has subsequently led to an increase in engagement, retention and outcomes, and created a major shift in the traditional paradigm of in-class learning.
In January, a survey commissioned by NBN Co of about 1,000 students found that 75% use the Internet to assist them with school courses at home. It also showed 51% used online videos to help research subjects they were studying.
Today, the phenomenon shows no signs of going away as more students choose online tutoring to sharpen their academic skills and excel in the classroom.
A ‘second set of eyes’
YourTutor has recently expanded the capabilities of its online tutoring service to include its first 24/7 service – called Writing Feedback.
Jack Goodman, CEO of YourTutor, told The Educator that it is designed to provide students with professional feedback on essay drafts, with a 24-hour turnaround time.
“The YourTutor writing experts will comment on structure, organisation, grammar, and spelling, as well as referencing and bibliographic styling. They never correct or re-write, only comment. We call it a “second set of eyes,” and educators and students love it,” he said.
“It helps students learn that writing is an iterative process and means teachers don't get overloaded trying to read endless drafts before marking a final submission.
“And for some parents, who might otherwise intervene inappropriately when their child has an essay due, it's a blessing.”
Separating the wheat from the chaff
Goodman pointed out that the term “online tutoring” is often used loosely to refer to websites that offer videos, skill-and-drill quizzes, and other one-way content.
“It's important to distinguish between such services, which are better off being referred to as "supplemental software," as opposed to solutions that match students with tuition experts for personal learning experiences,” he said.
Goodman added that by this definition, online tutoring is experiencing “a powerful surge in interest” by educators and demand from students.
More than 150,000 students at high schools across every state in Australia now have access to YourTutor, the pre-eminent online tutoring solution for high schools, as well as universities.
However, Goodman added that this also means that there are more than 1.5 million high school students in Australia who don't have access to personalised, on-demand study support that could help them on a daily basis.
“Many of Australia's high schools haven't yet embraced the implementation of online services that have been proven to create learning benefits for their students, like YourTutor,” he said.
“Our data shows that more and more students engage with tutors, across a wider range of subjects, and with greater frequency. The demand is there, and the result is a measurable impact on marks across all core subjects.”
Online tutoring’s three key outcomes
Goodman said that online tutoring centres around three key outcomes: providing academic confidence for students, ensuring a productive and harmonious home study time for families, and improving learning outcomes for schools.
While many schools and educators have long-held views about traditional tutoring as something that is beyond their control and thus either avoided or actively discouraged, online tutoring is a fundamentally different proposition, Goodman said.
“It's about fairness and equity of access, ensuring all students can benefit from one-to-one support. It is well documented that parental support, home support is one of the key factors driving the educational success of all student,” he explained.
Goodman added that YourTutor is seeing school leaders discover that online tutoring – when properly implemented – can engage a much higher proportion of students than other types of supplemental support.
“The results include students coming to class better prepared, and giving educators powerful insights into home learning patterns,” he said.