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Here are the advantages of online tutoring, according to research

As students have struggled to catch up after the COVID-19 pandemic, Marker Learning broke down some of the advantages of online tutoring.

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A teenager studying online wearing a headset, taking notes.

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Following the COVID-19 pandemic, many students have struggled to catch up in their academic studies. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the reduction in 13-year-olds' math scores between the 2019-2020 and 2022-2023 school years was the biggest on record. And reading scores for the students with the lowest reading ability were lower than in 1971 when data was first compiled.

Unfortunately, the academic damage experienced as a result of the pandemic may not be temporary. Experts warn that students will face a long-term reduction in knowledge and income if the country doesn't adequately remedy the problem.

The educational technology industry has been exploring ways to help students catch up. It's a lucrative business opportunity: From 2019 and 2021, venture capital investments in edtech companies increased from $5.4 billion to $16.8 billion annually. And school districts are getting on board, too.

Many schools have turned to tutoring—including virtual tutoring—to try to reverse the learning losses. From the beginning of the pandemic until March 15, 2022, school districts all over the nation used $1.7 billion of their COVID-19 federal relief funds on both in-person and online tutoring.

But not all tutoring is the same. A 2021 study by researchers at the Annenberg Institute at Brown University and the University of Virginia found that intensive tutoring, with three or more sessions a week, is most effective for students. Having a consistent tutor and personalized learning for the student also boosts effectiveness.

On-demand tutoring is also an option for students, but it can suffer from students' lack of motivation, which may mean they don't log in for a tutoring session or ask for help with what they need to focus on. When communication is through typed text and a different tutor runs each session, it can be challenging to make progress.

Virtual tutoring can be successful, though. A 2020 Italian study examined middle school students who received three hours of weekly online tutoring on their computers, tablets, or smartphones. College students taught the sessions. The middle-schoolers saw improved performance in math, English, and Italian—and even more improvement if they had six hours of weekly tutoring.

To learn more about how online tutoring can help students, Marker Learning highlighted four key advantages.

Working remotely

One advantage of online tutoring is that tutors and students can work from wherever they want—including their homes. This element eliminates the possibly stressful or logistically complicated task of commuting or traveling to sessions. Working from home also means that students and tutors can comfortably work in their own familiar spaces, free of distractions that may pop up elsewhere.

Access to a large pool of tutors

Another benefit of virtual tutoring is the large selection of possible tutors. Students can find experts who live anywhere. Finding someone who can easily accommodate unique schedules, learning needs, and learning styles may be more likely with a broader pool. Students may also have an easier time locating specialized assistance for a specific subject matter.

Tapping into technology

Virtual tutoring can take advantage of a wide range of online learning tools. Videos, games, and collaborative whiteboards offer opportunities to practice new skills, test new knowledge, and explore ways to use the material. Technology also helps tutors enrich teaching sessions with additional materials to connect with students differently.

Higher affordability

While the price of tutoring may vary, online tutoring tends to cost less than in-person tutoring. The fact that tutors don't have to travel or commute for sessions reduces overhead costs. Lower prices can significantly improve the affordability and accessibility of tutoring sessions.

Story editing by Jeff Inglis. Copy editing by Kristen Wegrzyn.