Online tutoring becoming big business

The growth of the internet and social networks such as Facebook has meant that many parents are turning to the internet to find tutoring services for their children.

These services are known as e-tutoring and in the past few years they’ve spread rapidly across Britain. It is estimated that in the last few years the industry has grown from almost nothing to being worth nearly £8 billion.

Before the online boost in tutoring it was estimated that around 25 percent of families at some point hired a tutor for their children. This year is the first time that various online providers are going to start being reviewed by The Good Schools Guide.

Those children who are signed up to the service watch broadcasts which are presented through video conferencing facilities such as Skype. This technology means the children can see the teacher and interact with them through video and speech. The student and teacher also share a virtual whiteboard which makes tutoring much easier.

The cost of tutoring is much lower which is one of the big attractions to the service with companies charging between £15 and £30 per hour. This is much cheaper than private tutors in the UK who come to your house in person.

E-tutoring is already well-established in the United States and there are many major players in the market. Pearson have a large number of tutors in India who teach children in America as well as Britain. The publisher do this through a subsidiary company called TutorVista.

The number of tutoring companies in the UK is increasing rapidly and they are of great appeal to many children who are spending increasingly large amounts of time on the internet. The fact that children are very used to the internet means that they are comfortable with this sort of digital technology and video tutoring is something they easily get used to.

Even some schools are starting to take advantage of virtual tutoring and there is a school in London which runs an after-school homework club where students benefit from extra tuition from India.

An adviser for The Good Schools Guide is Sue Fieldman and she has commented, “There is no question that online tutoring is growing rapidly. Generally, parents prefer for a tutor to come to the house but young people are so involved with technology that sometimes the only way to get them to accept private tutoring is through the internet. What is clear is that teenagers do prefer to be tutored online rather than in person.”

Ms Fieldman also went on to highlight that there are risks involved, “This is an unregulated industry and there are definitely some low quality sites out there with tutors who are unqualified and not good teachers. Anyone can describe themselves as a tutor and all they need is some computer programmes which are free and easy to download. There is no question that this industry is going to continue to grow but it is important that you only pursue tutoring with a reputable site.”