The benefits of getting help from online tutoring services

June 04, 2015
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For the most part, the university campus is an excellent environment for learning. You have your mates there beside to you if you ever need help, and the collaborative student/tutor relationship is refreshing after the somewhat one-way system high school uses. However, the system might not work for everyone. There’s the possibility of having a tutor who just doesn’t understand the way you like to learn, or perhaps the classroom environment is one that just isn’t for you. But luckily we live in a digitally-driven society, which offers a plethora of ways to get help from the net. Online tutoring services are becoming increasingly common, and offer a bunch of benefits not always available offline.

The obvious benefit is that online tutoring is accessible anywhere and, within limits, anytime. Sarah Crossing from virtual tutoring service YourTutor notes this as a big reason why students are rapidly jumping online.

“You can be anywhere: at your local coffee shop, on campus, at home, on the train, overseas, wherever,” says Sarah. “It’s nice to know that you can ask a question - even if it seems like a silly question - no matter where you are.”

Dan Brand, founder of Spoonfeedme, another online tutoring service that provides tutorial videos produced by top students, says that his business was founded simply because he found a gap in the market for immediate help from trusted experts.

“I was so poorly taught,” Dan says. “I kept going on YouTube to find videos to explain things, but there was this really good tutor that taught the year before who I kept going to with the questions. Going to him for 10 minutes helped me way more than going to a 3 hour lecture.”

Dan ended up marrying the outside help aspect with the online part of it, and Spoonfeedme was born.

This type of accessibility isn’t always easily achieved with the traditional style of tutoring. Tutors are responsible for a number of different classes and students, and are often studying themselves. So trying to organise face-to-face meetings can be a little difficult if they’re stretched for time. And sometimes what’s convenient for one of you might not be for the other – especially if you need help in the middle of an all-nighter. Online tutoring eliminates those barriers and enables you to get assistance with far less hassle. As Sarah puts it, “We’re all busier than ever, and fitting in study around work, family and friends means studying and doing assignments at all hours of the day.”

 Getting help and feedback within 24 hours is a bonus that we simply cannot take for granted.

Whether this just is our generation’s internet-induced impatience or otherwise, when we’ve got a burning question, we kind of need an answer as soon as possible.

But despite the fact that we’re in a digital age, it’s important to remember that online tutoring might not be for everyone. In the same way people enjoy the comfort of reading a physical book as opposed to an e-book, some people prefer face-to-face tutoring to online. And that’s fair enough – if we were to talk to someone face-to-face, we could collaborate and ask further questions, while online does have its limits.

Sarah notes that it’s important to do what’s best for you and the way you absorb information. “Some people really want the face-to-face time for an hour appointment each week, and that might be your best learning style – everyone is different,” she says.

Dan Brand makes it clear that professional and online peer-to-peer learning styles often go hand in hand. “(Online tutoring) is definitely there as a compliment,” he says.

Basically, you don’t have to substitute one style of learning for the other – you can use the online help as an extension to what you’re already getting at uni.

But there’s no doubt online tutoring services may the saving grace that some students have been relentlessly searching for. It certainly caters to those who may suffer from anxiety in a face-to-face situation, especially when they feel their questions are particularly trivial, and it’s accessible across the world on a variety of platforms.

It’s all about doing what’s right for you. Ultimately, you know the way in which you learn best, and you should definitely stick to that. But I think I speak for all of us when I say that getting help and feedback within 24 hours is a bonus that we simply cannot take for granted.

Jackson Langford

Jackson is studying a Bachelor of Communication degree at the University of Newcastle and is the rightful heir to the throne.

Image: Jessie Jacobson, Flickr Creative Commons license