Online math learners have become a quickly growing population worldwide, and with good reason. The technological advances that have allowed for significant changes in the way people both teach and learn have also opened the doors to more effective, flexible and adaptable math tutoring online. The effectiveness of online math tutoring programs, however, largely depends on the strategies adopted by institutions or private tutors.
So what makes for an effective online math class? While the answer to this question can vary from tutor to tutor and can depend on the learner demographic in question, there are five main strategies that most people generally tend to agree on:
- Flexible communication channels – Sending out emails is a quick and easy way to get in touch with learners, however, an email can be easy to miss in a busy inbox. While posting messages on a discussion board/forum can be effective, contacting learners using the forms of communication that they are most likely to check, such as through Skype, can be a much more effective method.
- Synchronous and asynchronous communication – While asynchronous communication (in the form of emails, for example) can be a great way to arrange lessons and get important information across, synchronous communication (such as video conferences and voice chats through software such as Skype) often allow for more meaningful, in-depth discussions. Scheduling video lectures in which the learners are encouraged to participate can be an effective way of demonstrating complex concepts and gauging how well learners really grasp the topic at hand.
- Structured syllabuses and clear weekly schedules – Although online math lessons have the advantage of being more flexible and adaptable to learners’ needs and schedules, it’s important for learners to have clear weekly schedules, objectives, and goals, whether that’s to take part in a Skype discussion and then complete a test, or to work through an online worksheet on a specific topic. This allows for learners to keep track of their progress and achievements.
- Dynamic learning environments – The incorporation of various technological tools and software such, as Skype, give learners a wide range of mediums through which to develop an understanding of a topic. Instructors should be aware of the possible technical difficulties in order to help learners in a timely manner; for example, by getting acquainted with the Skype software in order to help learners who may not be familiar with how to conduct a video conference.
- Timely feedback – In order to keep the momentum of a lesson/topic going, timely feedback is of the essence. When learners and instructors are in different time zones, the time differences should be determined at the beginning of the lessons and should be kept in mind throughout the tutorship. One of the benefits of online math tutoring is that communication can be instant (through Skype, for example), and that online tests provide immediate feedback that can then be discussed as soon as a test is completed and is still fresh in the learner’s mind, to aid in achieving a better understanding of a topic.
When the right strategies are employed, online math tutoring can offer a plethora of advantages to math learners of all ages; it also has the potential to not only improve the math proficiency of struggling learners but also to encourage the enjoyment of the subject by learners who may have initially been discouraged from pursuing it.