There are a couple of reasons why math tutors might have encountered students requesting for some tuition classes to be conducted online. Firstly, home based learning has proliferated in Singapore due to recent government policy, and some students might have become accustomed to this format of instruction. As Co-Curricular Activities gradually resume, students might be tempted to ask for some personal tuition to be held online in order to avoid travelling out of their hostels at certain times of the year. Finally, online tuition also allows for overseas students to be enrolled, where before, the market for them might have been shut.
While online tuition can never be a permanent substitute for face-to-face interaction, math tutors should be open to conducting lessons online where appropriate for the student’s need and specifically requested for by the student.
I conduct weekly lectures online for Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) mathematics students using an online whiteboard and a drawing tablet which allows me to write down mathematical equations and explanations in my own handwriting and for students to see in real time what is being written. Documents containing questions and solutions can also be shared by both the student and the tutor electronically and be instantly visible to both parties.
I have incorporated these tools in my private math tuition classes as well and have found them to be an effective alternative, though not a complete replacement, to face-to-face presentation. Through the Skype or Zoom platform, students can ask for clarifications and also pose their own questions on the spot, and I will be able to respond immediately, just like in a face-to-face class.
In the hands of a competent presenter who can explain mathematical concepts well through the microphone and with a drawing tablet, there is no reason why students will be unable to follow the class even though the class is not conducted in a lecture hall or at a common physical location.
In conclusion, even though math tutors can should continually hone their skills in face-to-face tuition, which should remain the primary source of interaction between tutor and student, the ability to conduct lessons effectively online is a useful skill to master in the current learning climate. For a tutor, having an expanded skill set can only be a good thing.