Driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, online teaching is riding an unprecedented wave of growth. More students than ever are taking classes online with teachers who are working from home. As a result, the demand for remote tutors is exploding as virtual learning becomes part of the new normal.
During the pandemic many public school systems and colleges instituted virtual learning to protect students and teachers from infection. Now, many school systems are seeking certified teachers with remote teaching experience on their resumes.
There is also an increasing demand for U.S. based remote tutors to teach English as a second language to children around the world, but especially in China. Companies like Pearson, Sylvan Learning and VipKid are among the largest employers of K-12 in-home teachers and remote tutors. A bachelor's degree is required by most reputable tutoring companies, but it can usually be in any field. Other tutoring positions may require a teaching degree and an active certification.
According to the World Economic Forum, the market for online education is projected to reach $350 billion by 2025, so now is a great time to consider a career as an online educator.
When you land that remote teaching position, you will want to create a dedicated space in your home that will allow you to connect and interact with your students.
Virtual tutoring using video tools is a must. But it's equally important to provide students with easy access to course work, research materials, tests, and whatever else might add value to your service.
Here's what you’ll need to set up a remote teaching center at home:
Any area in the house that's large enough for a desk, an office-type chair, and a mini blackboard will do. Ensure that the space is well lit, uncluttered, and includes some personal touches, such as a potted plant or painting to project a friendly image.
You will need a desktop computer or laptop, and a broadband internet connection that permits video streaming and large-file downloads.
For video, you can use the built-in camera on your computer, but many remote teachers also use a high-resolution webcam. Placed on a tripod, a webcam can give you more flexibility to move around in your teaching space, or use as a second camera. You can also use your smartphone or tablet as a second camera.
If you are working in a room without natural light, you may also need to buy LED lighting so that you and your presentations look as professional as possible.
If you're going to handle an extensive syllabus and deal with a large number of students, you will need a Learning Management System (LMS) to support online tutoring. An LMS is software that facilitates the administration and delivery of online courses and training programs. With an LMS you can post assignments, quizzes, videos, and discussion topics. Other modules handle grade tracking and data reporting, as well as communications with students and parents.
NOTE: In many cases, the school system or tutoring company you’re working for will decide which LMS system to use, or they may even have their own custom platform. In other cases, it will be up to you to select an LMS. At any rate, you should be familar with how these systems work and the features they provide.
There are well over a dozen systems to choose from, some open-source, others cloud-based. Since you'll be setting up a home-based system for the first time, focus on an LMS with functionality that matches your teaching style. Here are some of the more popular options:
All are easy to use, but they all have their strengths and weaknesses. Study their features, or better still, get feedback from teachers and students before you decide which one to use.
Distance education will require you to make study materials available to your students. The easiest way to share materials is through a cloud based file storage platform, like iDrive. Using one of these systems will enable you to back up and share large files by sending a link. We recommend iDrive because it's easy to use and provides more storage at a lower cost.
Some offer limited free storage. All of these cloud-based information systems are easy to use and offer enough capacity for text, images and video content.
Whether it's live footage or graphical presentations, video brings clarity and excitement to distance learning. Some of the best video creation tools include:
Review the features of each software/service, then choose one that suits your needs and make videos to enrich the learning experience.
Apart from creating instructional and other videos, you would want to interact with students face-to-face and in real time, to offer as close a classroom experience as possible.
Here is a selection of six apps/platforms (in no particular order) to consider:
Zoom is a cloud-based communication platform raises the virtual classroom to a new level. As it offers high-definition video and audio, you can use it to conduct a live classroom session, cover a conference, engage in Q&A sessions, and broadcast webinars. A big plus for students is that they can record classroom sessions in order to study at their own pace and convenience.
One of the most popular streaming applications, Vimeo Livestream delivers high-quality live video across a variety of platforms and devices, including YouTube, Periscope, Linked in, and Twitch. The application comes with competent graphics, video-management tools and reliable customer support. The free version of this tool is recommended for the first-time remote teacher.
Facebook Live is free and easy to use. The app is great for broadcasting a lesson, a live demonstration, an event, a conversation, or a Q&A session, all of which can be viewed on Apple and Android devices. For a live broadcast on Facebook's own Live Producer, you will need encoding software and a camera. If you schedule your broadcast, an announcement post and a live broadcast post will be created on your page to keep your audience in the loop.
Panopto platform permits video creation and live steaming and integrates well with any LMS. Used by many top universities, Panoplo enriches the learning experience by allowing interactive course videos, recordings of demonstrations, access to third-party content, and a lot more.
A key feature of Dacast is that it offers online password protection, so you can ensure that content is seen only by your students. Video is high definition with adequate bandwidth, and adaptive streaming ensures that viewers will get the best possible quality, depending on the bandwidth and type of device each is using. Another big plus of Dacast is that it allows you to apply your own logo to content you've created.
Its landing page describes BrainCert as "the world's first WebRTC based HTML5 virtual classroom." It comes with 50 languages and offers seamless integration with any LMS, high-definition video and audio, enlarged video conferencing (up to 6 video streams), and an interactive whiteboard. Among other things, BrainCert allows you to schedule classes, build an online content library for your students, record and download classroom sessions, upload materials related to teaching sessions in advance, and organize group chat sessions.
There are many more options to choose from. Don't blindly settle for a service merely because it's popular or feature rich. Instead, go with what is budget-friendly, easy to use, relevant to your teaching modules, and offers a service upgrade option should your training requirements increase in the future.
At the least, a calendar app should help you keep in touch with teaching schedules and be prepared for important events like examinations. A good calendar app should be easy to use, have seamless connectivity with an LMS, and run on various devices and platforms (in case you need to share it with your students). Here are some options:
Distance education, with its myriad technological options and complexities, might seem daunting. As a remote teacher, you will need to keep pace with changes in the field and continually upgrade your teaching methods to meet student expectations as they grow and evolve. The challenge is worth it because e-learning is set for limitless growth and you can gain from it.