Online vs Traditional Tutoring | Which is best?

Posted on the 28th April

Good quality education can help set students up for the future. Whilst it is not the only factor to determine success, it is no secret that it opens up more doors and quicker pathways. There are many things that go into building a good education, the standard of teaching, access to resources, number of school trips and the social environment at school.


The simplest and best way to improve education standards regardless of price bracket or access is via some form of private tutoring. With many schemes taking advantage of government funding to help raise attainment the accessibility of private tutoring is there for most but work is still required to bring it into the mainstream.


Whether you are a parent looking to subsidise your child's education through private lessons or are a student looking to bolster your confidence in class, the dilemma in front of you now is online versus traditional tutoring. You are set on the idea that you want the extra support but now you begin to ask the pertinent questions. What are the costs involved? How long will it take? Do I need to travel and what equipment do I need?


What is Tutoring?



Tutoring can come in many shapes and forms. We’ll be exploring 2 of them a little later but first let’s give a generic overview of what it is.

Tutoring is a form of learning usually undertaken in smaller groups than a regular class (20+ students) and allows for more relaxed learning in which the teacher/tutor can help individuals more specifically than they would be able to in a larger class.


Tutoring in the past has normally been associated with students at each end of the social system. Those that require additional support as they struggle in class and those that are educated at private establishments. While this may have been the case in the past, the tutoring industry has exploded in recent years.


What is Online Tuition?


In its simplest form, online tutoring is a lesson that takes place over the internet using either a video conferencing application or a shared document editor. The tutor and student are in different locations but are able to see, hear and communicate with each other in real-time.


Benefits of Online Tuition


·        Convenience


First off, you need to ask yourself how much time you or your child has to set aside in the day and how much time you’d want to be travelling for? A large majority of traditional tutors will require to meet at either a neutral venue like a coffee shop and library or require both the student and an accompanying adult to travel to their own home for both safeguarding reasons and because it allows for easier access to resources.


Comparing this to online tutoring, you will be able to set up in the comfort of your own home and reduce both the monetary costs associated with travel but also the time costs.


·        Simpler Payments


Another big plus to online tuition is how simple it is to make payments. There are a number of online portals that allow for hassle-free, protected payments that you do not get from a traditional agency, electronic transfer or even cold hard cash payment. If something goes wrong with the lesson you can rest assured that you will be entitled to a form of compensation.


·        Better Communication channels


Communication online is much more straightforward – especially if booking lessons, contacting tutors, payments, etc are all in one place.

Better also does not have to mean faster but more secure and with better safeguarding policies in place. Communicating with a traditional tutor via email is all well and good but it opens the door to potential fraud. Commonly, online tuition platforms have an integrated message platform that gives both tutors and students peace of mind.


·        Price


As online tutoring platforms do not require tutors to be in specific physical locations, they do not have high overhead costs. As such, in the majority of cases, you can expect much lower fees as a student or tutor looking to teach as one.


Negatives of Online Tuition


·        Not as suitable for more practical and hands-on skills


Whilst not impossible, teaching more practical subjects, will require more interactive tools and creativity in order to do so. Young children who learn best through imitation or physically may be better suited to traditional tutoring.


·        More susceptible to distractions



In traditional tutoring, the tutor has more control over the situation. They can ensure who and what is in the room. Therefore, they can eliminate potential distractions.

It’s different with online tutoring when the teacher is not present in the room. Common distracters include mobile phones, the Internet, siblings or other people in the house. Procrastination with assignments can become a problem too if your child lacks the motivation to study or hasn’t established healthy study habits.


What is Traditional Tutoring?


Traditional tutoring is when a student meets with their tutor in person, usually at the tutor's home, office or a public place such as a library to conduct a lesson.


Benefits of Traditional Tutoring


·        IRL Interactions


Humans are social beings, and nothing beats in-person interactions. A good relationship with a private tutor can increase intrinsic motivation and improve performance and results.

In-person communication can be very beneficial with hands-on skills where a teacher can assist and provide more personalized assistance.


It is also beneficial for young learners who thrive on interpersonal communication, learn by imitating adults, and have not yet developed an ability to effectively work by themselves. More extroverted children who are naturally inclined to interact with other people may prefer in-person tutoring as well.


Moreover, if you opt for tutoring or study centres that offer homework help, your child can interact with other children. Thus, they can make friends with like-minded children who have similar interests and academic goals.


·        Ability to react to emotions and body language


Experienced teachers usually have an understanding of psychology and can understand and adequately respond to children’s emotions, facial expressions, and body language. Skilled tutors will then be able to respond accordingly.


So, if a child is shy, a private tutor can notice that and modify their teaching style accordingly. It is also much easier to notice when a student becomes bored, disinterested, or distracted and act on it.

This can be hard or impossible with online tutoring, especially if it involves a child following a program and referring to a tutor for guidance, clarifications, and assessment only.

It’s also important to keep in mind that not every private tutor will have the skills, experience, or willingness to read emotions and body language and modify it to meet the child’s needs. So, it’s crucial to choose a private tutor carefully.


Negatives of Traditional Tutoring


All of these will be the complete antithesis of online tutoring – I wonder why…


·        Commuting


For traditional in-person tutoring to occur, one of the parties needs to travel. It that is the tutor, this will likely mean higher expenses to cover travel costs. It can also limit the amount and nature of teaching aids and materials that a tutor can use since they would need to transport them to your home.

If that is the child who commutes, this would require their parent or another adult to drive or walk them to the location where tutoring takes place, which can be inconvenient, impractical and stressful and limit tutoring times and options.


·        Cost



One of the primary reasons why many people choose not to go for private tutoring is its costs. When it comes to traditional in-person tutoring, it is usually more expensive than some other online options.

This is because it requires covering different expenses such as transportation if you hire a tutor who comes to your home. If you go to a learning centre, then their owners would need to cover overhead costs which would include utilities, purchase of new materials, and more.


Which should I choose?


If you are looking for a definitive answer tailored made for you, I can’t provide it as there are so many factors listed above that you may put more weight behind and find more important.

What I can do, is provide you with some great tuition options to research but also some additional study resources that will better equip you as we head into exam season.


Sherpa Online



Sometimes, you might just need an extra bit of guidance in order to fully comprehend and understand a topic. Other times, you may need that additional help to learn the foundations of a subject to progress with your studies. Whatever it may be, Sherpa Online is as comprehensive as it gets. They boast a huge catalogue of Qualified UK teachers and professional tutors all available at a moments notice to help you with your studies.


With an intuitive online classroom and booking system. Getting the tailored help you need from the comfort of your own home from qualified professionals has never been easier. Whether you need help revising for an upcoming maths exam or you want to know the ins and outs of microwaves in physics, there is a Sherpa tutor for you.


Code Academy


Codeacademy is free, simple to use and has a large volume of top-quality courses. They have helped over 24 million students learn to code and improve their skill levels by providing a free learning experience for beginners and intermediates alike.


The courses follow a structured curriculum and can help you learn a new skill every day. With quizzes each step of the way, you can evaluate the progress you have made consistently so you never fall behind. The only downside is that there is no instructor support, and there is a limited sense of community so you have to fend for yourself but if you can look past that, CodeAcademy will work wonders for you. 


BBC Bitesize



BBC Bitesize feels like it has been around since the dawn of time. It has been an everlasting tool used by a generation or 2 of students. It is a free online study support resource designed from the ground up to help students of all ages to learn, revise and complete homework. From the ages of 5 to 16+ bitesize covers a wide range of school subjects. 

All of the guides and information around topics are written by teachers or subject experts and follow the UK national curriculum. Bitesize is one of the main platforms used by home-schooling parents with a catalogue of hundreds of lessons available to download.


The website is simple to navigate with all resources available to you within a few clicks. With dedicated sections for Primary, KS3, GCSE and post 16+ to help break up the complexity of the topics and prevent those at the GCSE level from picking up irrelevant topics as an example.


Bitesize also has extensive support networks for students to use. No matter what stage of life you are at, moving to secondary school, starting a new relationship or feeling stressed and overworked, they have a number of stories from people who have been through similar to help support you through a possibly turbulent time. They also provide career support that is not offered often.

Online Tutors
Teach Online
Benefits of Tuition

James Gurnett

28th April

Looking for a tutor?

Sherpa has hundreds of qualified and experienced UK tutors who are ready to help you achieve your goals. Search through our tutors and arrange a free 20 minute introduction through our industry-leading online classroom.

Find a Tutor