Best resource for Sydney and NSW homeschool students
The COVID 19 social distancing laws imposed last week saw most NSW parents keep kids out of the classrooms despite many baulking at the thought of homeschooling.
Online searches for tutors more than tripled and the industry, like the rest of the education system, was forced to meet the challenge of delivering coursework remotely.
Some tutors continue to offer their services in person by observing social distancing rules but many have switched to using internet-based platforms to keep both tutors and students safe.
Face-to-face teaching, however, is difficult to replicate online, said Mohan Dhall, CEO of the Australian Tutoring Association and not all teachers and tutors will be able to adapt to this sudden move to distance learning.
"Some very good face-to-face tutors do not have the understanding of technology needed to deliver their teaching online," Mr Dhall said, adding that business providers that already have the infrastructure in place to deliver remote coaching are the ones parents should look for.
"The best teaching requires real-time feedback but only a small proportion of teachers and tutors are offering this."
The association is the peak industry body for tutors and the best providers are all members.
Dymocks Tutoring, which specialises in teaching high school and HSC students was offering some small group training online before the threat of coronavirus led it to close all of its face-to-face operations.
"You can't just translate the physical experience of teaching into a technological environment," said Mark Buckland, Dymocks Group company secretary.
"We have a solid advantage because we were always planning to be online." Parents do not need complicated technology, it is more the challenge of keeping tutoring interactive.
He said tutoring online, especially for very young primary school and special needs kids, can be a challenge as delivering a one hour tutorial on a screen won't hold their attention.
Rather than a one or two-hour session with a tutor, the work needs to be broken into parcels, delivered in real time (rather than from recorded lectures), be engaging and provide clear deadlines and follow-up for students.
Harry Mavrolefteros, Director of First Education, which runs three one-on-one tuition centres in Sydney's south east, said he has converted his entire operation online over the past two weeks.
"All of our sessions have become video calls," Mr Mavrolefteros said. "I have a whole new business and I am liking it."
His 80 tutors are delivering one-on-one sessions to 500 kids online.
"They're young (tutors), 20 to 25 years old, so they are used to working online," he said adding that they have provided him with plenty of ideas to help him adjust and for students and parents to adapt to this new way of teaching.
There are downsides, like slow or interrupted internet connections, and it is more awkward to see how kids are working out maths problems but there are also upsides like faster access to research online, he said.
The ATA's Mr Dhall said before rushing to sign your kids up to tutoring to get them through this period of isolation there are important questions that parents need to ask prospective operators.
Besides ensuing they are accredited with the ATA, these include: what technology they are using, whether they record the sessions for transparency, where they expect the child to sit while they receive online tutoring as it should always be in a public area of the house, what sort of online protection guidelines and security they offer and what sort of shared document platform, if any, they are using and whether they have a refund policy.
Originally published as Best resource for Sydney and NSW homeschool students