Critiquing Online Tutoring: A modern advancement or a disaster

Past few decades have seen a sea change in the education system, especially with the advent of the information technology. The wave of this new networking technology and it’s amazing capacity for exchanging information on the real-time basis across the borders of the nations have significantly transformed the world of education and along with it the private tutoring system. In education private tutoring was there from the very beginning and has now become an indispensable part of the education system all over the world. As indicated earlier, the advancement of the information technology to an unprecedented height has changed the traditional way of providing face to face tuition to more advanced and time saving online tutoring. It does not mean that the traditional way of imparting private education has been entirely replaced, but with time, the online tutoring is making its headway with remarkable growth rate and is gaining the popularity in all over the world.

There are various reasons why this is happening and why some of the online tutoring companies are making multi-millions of dollars. But like many businesses and like many systems that have ever developed in the human history, the online tutoring system has also failed to escape the claws of its criticisers. True, a system will have some advantages as well as disadvantages, but the important point to be reckoned is whether the benefits are enough to outweigh the disadvantages of the system and whether the disadvantages could be reduced to a controllable limit after research and analysis.

Read about: The tutoring industry in the UK
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Let us look at the online tutoring industry in the UK. There are almost 1.5 million tutors who are now engaged in the industry and the number is growing owing to the ever increasing demand for the private tutors. For providing tuition in the UK, the teacher should possess some clearance as well as some qualifications mainly meant for the teachers. One of the most important of these is CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) check. According to James Croft, Director of the Centre for Market Reform of Education, there could be some online tutors who are offering the online tutoring without this essential CRB check. According to him there is another problem, the online tutoring in the UK, has to be clean up is that some online tutors rate themselves more than what they are in reality. These two problems, for which a think tank of the organisation described above has already started a drive to clean up the industry, could prove to be detrimental to the students who are relying on the online tutoring.

Critiquing online tutoring
Education requires human touch – a tutor who can instil basic life skills

Online tutoring in the UK as well as in all over the world is still an unregulated market and hence the standardisation of the service of the online tutors is yet to be decided by some regulatory authorities. The lack of benchmark against which the service quality will be measured is another problem that the education system in the UK as well as in other countries.

On its ethical front, Ben Thomas, the head of Thomas’s Prep School in Battersea, south-west London has criticised this growing industry severely as he thinks that this after school tutoring of the children are making them overburdened and is “swallowing” their childhoods. Moreover, he is also convinced that the lack of standardisation of the quality of teaching as well as for the quality of teachers engaged in this industry is nothing but an “unregulated and unproven” tutoring.

The online tutoring and its access are also being criticised on another moral issue. As online tutoring is not as regulated in the UK as in the US, the critiques say that this form of tuition is providing an undue advantage to the children of wealthy persons who can spend money and get their tutors by just clicking their computer by sitting in the comfort of their home. Moreover, the rating of the schools is also meaningless, as according to the critiques, the students of the schools are performing well because of the tutoring facilities they are getting rather than the teaching they are receiving from their schools.

To be effective tutoring should be long term, but as revealed by the Institute of Education research, most of the hiring of the online tutors in the UK are done only at the time of examinations and naturally for a very short period ranging from few hours to few weeks. Although during this period the parents and the students expect that the online tutors will be performing some kind, fantastic jobs in clearing their concept as well as in answering their question, in reality, this becomes impossible for the online tutors.

A survey conducted by Emerging EdTech revealed that the students taking online tuition suffer from the technical drawbacks of this system of tuition. Taking online tutoring requires high-speed internet and sophisticated communication devices. Moreover, both the tutors and the student should be capable of using these systems with proficiency. The interactive software used by most of the online tutoring agencies is also sometimes proved to be a hurdle for the students to get their online lessons perfectly. Even the tutors may have a superior knowledge of his/her subject, but the lack of proficiency in using the sophisticated communication devices as well as the interactive software and whiteboard sometimes proved to be a hindrance to addressing the problem of the students efficiently and effectively.

Read about: Five excellent reasons to use online tutoring

Tanith Carey, when started investigating the effect of tuition on the children for his book Taming the Tiger Parent, found that private tutoring is not at all helping the students to perform better as against the traditional thinking that tutoring helps the children in achieving their educational fit. According to him, the reason for such finding is nothing but a mere fact that the tutors require no formal teaching qualifications who are offering their services as private tutors. This is a flaw that could be found for both the online tutors as well as the tutors who are tutoring in a face to face environment.

The most important point is probably raised by Noel, who has written the book Calmer, Easier, Happier Boys (published by Hodder in February 2014). According to him, every tutor should have a professional training child psychology before going to provide the tutoring service. As otherwise, it would be almost impossible for them to deal with a student who lacks confidence. When this is true for the tutors who give tuition in person, this argument raised by Noel is really tough to fulfil in case of online tutoring where, in most of the cases, the students and the tutors belong to different societies and sometimes to different nations ;and where it is impossible to have a direct and personalised interaction in between the tutor and the student.

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