Expert Insights

Online Tutoring - how to keep learning throughout Covid 19

16th March 2020

The global Covid-19 crisis is posing immense challenges to every area of society. Education is no different. With families and tutors alike entering self-isolation, and with schools in the UK now closed, online tutoring will become a vital tool to maintain the ability to deliver education and promote learning. In this blog we thought we’d explain how online tutoring works, and highlight some of the platforms our tutors use to deliver lessons online.

Online lessons will increasingly become the norm for private tuition over the next few months. Amid school closures and quarantines, students will want to maintain their progress, and parents will want to keep children occupied and stimulated. While some parents might be wary about moving lessons online, the reality is that online tutoring has never been easier or more effective than it is now.

That’s not to say online tuition isn’t a different experience to face-to-face lessons. For younger students, maintaining focus and avoiding distractions can be hard whilst on a computer. Additionally, if you are moving online with a tutor you or your child has previously seen in person, there might be a small period of adjustment: the dynamic can be quite different. However, these potential pitfalls can be deftly avoided by tutors who make the most of the interactive possibilities of online lessons. Online tutoring can absolutely be as engaging as face-to-face sessions, offers real flexibility in terms of when (and where) lessons can take place, and enables practical means of tracking a student’s progress.

Below offers a some helpful guidance on working with online tuition – alternatively, please make enquiry through our Online Tuition page here.

The different platforms

First of all, there are a number of different apps and websites tutors can use to hold lessons via a video chat. Here at Ivy Education, we recommend our tutors use Zoom. Free to download and use, this simple app nevertheless has powerful functionality, allowing for screen sharing, remote control of the other user’s computer, and the ability to record the audio of the lesson (although this last option should only be used with the tutor’s consent).

There are other options. Skype is perhaps the most well-known, compatible with any operating system, but it lacks many of Zoom’s features. Google Hangouts is another possibility, and if you or your child are using Google Drive with your tutor (see below) then all you will need is a Gmail account to use both, which simplifies things. Undemanding in respect to processing power, and with the option of screen sharing, it’s definitely a viable alternative.

Any of the above options can work really well. The vital thing is that your tutor is comfortable with the platform, expresses clearly which they want to use with you, and is able to use other tools to deliver effective lessons. Let’s look at some of those tools now.

Online learning tools

Online tutoring is a great way to encourage students to be more organised, thanks to the prevalence of file sharing apps. Google Drive is the most common of these and again it is free to make an account. Through Google Drive, the tutor can create shared folders with their student, before making documents, spreadsheets, or presentations collaboratively via Google Docs. This is a brilliant way of working with older students in humanities subjects in particular. For example, an English tutor might be able to create a new document, share it with their A-Level student, and copy an unseen poem into the doc for discussion. The student and tutor could then work together to highlight and annotate the poem, before the tutor copies an exam question in for the student to finish for homework. Using track changes and comments, the tutor can then edit and mark the student to show them how they can improve at the beginning of the next session, with all of this work being automatically saved on the drive.

Ivy Education also provides its tutors with access to an online whiteboard via Bitpaper. Interactive and engaging, allowing both tutor and student to draw, write or share images on a digital whiteboard, this is a fantastic tool for Maths or Science tutors especially. Tutors can draw diagrams to explain complex systems, or annotate Maths questions to break it down with the student. You can even do rudimentary drawing, which younger students love and can be a great way to engage them with a text they’re reading, for example. Different sessions can be saved (and converted to PDFs) so that the student can go back over the work done, and parents can keep track of their progress.

On top of these core facilities, there are other examples of learning apps and resources that creative tutors will incorporate into their lessons. Mindjet allows for the creation of mind maps and for complex ideas and themes to be represented spatially, again with the collaboration of tutor and tutee. Quizlet, meanwhile, can be used to create flashcards with which the tutor can set progress tests or learning challenges. Beyond this, online tutoring allows for the easy sharing of images and encourages students to find out more about topics as they learn via websites and online databases. Again, tutors can make the most of what is out there to link students to articles, videos or even educational games as appropriate. History tutors, for example, might make the most of the amazing resources, lessons and activities provided by the National Archives.


Hopefully this blog has reassured you of the significant potential upsides to online learning. Powerful tools and applications, and tutors increasingly experienced at delivering lessons online mean that, rather than just being a placeholder for face-to-face lessons, online tuition is an engaging option in its own right. Indeed, online lessons might just give a new lease of life to your child’s tuition, and will certainly offer them stimulation and distraction in the tough months ahead.

If you’d like to talk further about the benefits of online tuition, or arrange some lessons online for your child, please don’t hesitate to contact Ivy Education: we’d be happy to help. Stay safe and keep well, everybody.