Is online teaching effective?

As educators who have spent many hours teaching and working with students online over the past few years, largely as a result of the ongoing global pandemic, we can happily report that the answer to this question is a resounding “yes!”

Only a few years ago, the answer to this might have been very different. With online video communications in their infancy, slow response times, persistent lag problems and a dearth of tools suitable for online teaching, our efforts would have been severely hampered. Nowadays, though, there are numerous choices available for online video communication, most of which are optimised to mitigate the connection issues of the past. Add to that the broad spectrum of digital tools that we now have at our fingertips - whether that be online whiteboards, interactive games or documents that update in real-time between contributors - and you have the recipe for dynamic and seamless online classes. Our tutors have been quick to take advantage of these new possibilities, and we have found that, with proper preparation, online lessons can be just as engaging for students as traditional face-to-face classes.

It goes without saying that some aspects of our lessons cannot easily be replicated online, such as fun science experiments, construction projects, or the opportunity for a student illustrate to illustrate their short story with pencils and crayons. Nonetheless, alternatives do exist in the form of games or informative videos.

While home tuition remains at the core of our teaching philosophy, and is gradually being phased back into our plans as social distancing restrictions allow, online teaching has provided us with an effective measure to bridge the gap. More than this, it has opened up our recruitment outside Hong Kong and at British Tutors, we have been adding expert tutors from all over the world to teach online. This has enabled us to provide a wider range of very specific support, whether that be for Oxbridge interview training (taught by a Cambridge professor) or for Latin tutoring (taught by a Harvard prize-winning Classicist). Through this, we have been able to use the pandemic to show our students that, even when the world is closed, they can be truly global in their learning and their thinking.

by Nathaniel Hunt, British Tutors, 2021