Reading this sentence puts you in the company of over 3.5 billion other internet users. Web usage continues its astronomical upsurge, and as of 2017, nearly half the world’s population has internet access.
Trends predict a shift to tech-based, online learning, with an expected focus on personalized, social-based platforms such as Preply.com. The international learning service recently conducted a study of its users in an effort to identify the current state of online tutoring as well as future trends to watch for.
Individuals were asked questions aimed to discover more about the general characteristics of online tutors, their students, and current and future ways to improve virtual education.
Study Findings ⇓⇓⇓
Online tutors themselves are mostly female, at 66%. While their ages vary, the largest percentage (29%) is between 18 and 25 years. Three-quarters of survey respondents maintain a separate full-time job. When asked about their motivations for teaching, most responded with answers spread between altruism, financial gain, and global connection: 63% hope to earn extra cash, 57% believe that online learning is the future of education, 47% wish to connect with people from other cultures, and 42% do it for the “joy of teaching.”
Most online tutors consider the work more of a career than a temporary gig. 64% plan tutoring into their taxable income, reporting their earnings as a teacher or declaring themselves self-employed. The general ages of these individuals, combined with the move toward legally regulating their work, implies that the pool of tutors will increase as more young people enter the online workforce.
In fact, more than half of the survey respondents—53%—believe that online tutoring will fully replace traditional offline education.⇓⇓⇓
The online classroom format varies, with 61% using a combination of well-known learning books and their own methodology and 33% crafting a unique and non-traditional approach to teaching. Most tutors augment their teaching materials with newspapers and other media. 66% use videos and 40% “gamify” the teaching—two quickly-growing areas in online education. A quarter add music to their instructional quiver.
Three-quarters of tutors spend the majority of their time on a laptop, with 41% doing some or all of their teaching from a desktop computer. Less than a quarter of online tutors surveyed use a smartphone or tablet, but that percentage can be expected to rise as mobile use continues to expand worldwide.
Online teaching requires no physical classroom, so Preply quizzed its survey participants on where they do their instruction. Over half—64%—work from their living room or kitchen. 40% use a more traditional office, with modern, shared coworking spaces barely on the map at just 3% of those surveyed. A handful work from cafes or another, unspecified location.
What do online tutors teach? The vast majority say they practice a form of lifestyle coaching—95% of teachers share their skills in music, sports, cooking, or a related area. Just 17%, or about one-fifth, of online tutors specialize in language instruction (English, Russian, Spanish, etc). Still fewer—13%—provide online tutoring in subjects like math or economics.
The reason why students hire an online tutor seems to be largely for career or business needs. An overlapping 62% of students are also interested in self-development. Around half of online learners find a tutor in order to travel or move abroad. 40% of students hope to improve their school or university grades with supplementary online tutoring.
How much online tutors charge for their expertise varies significantly, with a reported range of $5.68 for Ukrainian classes to up to $29.92 for those wishing to learn Hindi. But about half of tutors set their rates at somewhere between six and ten dollars per online hour.
Nearly all tutors surveyed feel their online students exhibit average-to-excellent attention during classes, and over a quarter responded with strictly “excellent.” Reported self-motivation for completing homework was slightly lower.
The vast majority of tutors—79%–say that their own ability to communicate and motivate is by far the biggest determinant of student success, followed closely by their students’ own drive and proactivity.
How easily do online tutors find new students? More than half replied that it is easier to find students online than offline, 29% felt it is similar, and 20% responded that they had better luck finding students offline.
Around half of survey respondents reported that they are prepared to fully digitalize their instruction, abandoning offline classes for the new online tutoring format. 33% of tutors are not ready for the change. An additional third stated that they have already made the switch.
When asked how online tutoring could be improved, most instructors were interested in better software and online services. ⇓⇓⇓
| About the Guest Author:
Stan Daniels is working in Preply – a new educational marketplace startup.