Online Tutoring 4 of 5: How Online Tutoring Works

This article is the fourth feature in the short Online Tutoring informational series and gives a brief overview of the technology that allows effective online tutoring to take place.

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Have you seen the commercial for the new luxury car with seats that intelligently conform to your body shape on tight turns? Is there a blade razor in your home with a tiny battery in the handle that electronically lifts hair before it cuts it? You don't have to answer yes to realize that we are now, more than ever, in an age of technology, and online tutoring is evidence of this sea change.

Online tutoring claims to allow your student to speak and communicate in writing in 'real time' to their online tutor, enabling them to get the same immediate feedback and assistance that they would be getting in a tutoring center or from a private tutor. This isn't just a claim, it's the truth. Here are just some of the details on the technology and requirements behind making online tutoring something your family can try in your home.

Getting Connected

Online tutoring first requires an Internet connection (generally, Broadband is recommended) and a home computer. The requirements of the home computer differ from site to site, but most sites offer a free diagnostic of your computer to determine whether or not it will be compatible with tutoring programs. Most current, standard operating systems exhibit compatible components. Assuming that your computer is ready for online tutoring, the online tutoring company that you choose for your student(s) will send you the appropriate tutoring software needed to get started.

Making Contact

The communication that takes place between a student and his or her teacher is done via a headset that allows conversations to exist in real time, so communication is similar to telephone service but it doesn't block a phone line (unless you are using a dial-up internet connection). Writing or typing can take place because the headset is hands-free, leaving your student with two hands available for keyboard use or to work with an electronic writing pad. (Keyboarding skills are not an essential part of online tutoring, but they can be integrated into the program if necessary.) Because of the way the electronic writing pad is designed to work with the software, students and teachers can both write on one assignment simultaneously in real time. In this way, students have access to visual demonstrations, practice exercises, and instant feedback. This type of technology essentially puts your student in the same room with his or her teacher, but with the convenience of an online program remains.

Aside from how online tutoring works using technology, the tutoring programs themselves also work by utilizing proven methods and keeping parents actively involved in their child's learning experience. For more information on what online tutoring programs entail, please see the article on this site, What is Online Tutoring? or check out other articles from this series.

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We Found 7 Tutors You Might Be Interested In

Huntington Learning

  • What Huntington Learning offers:
  • Online and in-center tutoring
  • One on one tutoring
  • Every Huntington tutor is certified and trained extensively on the most effective teaching methods
In-Center and Online


  • What K12 offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Has a strong and effective partnership with public and private schools
  • AdvancED-accredited corporation meeting the highest standards of educational management
Online Only

Kaplan Kids

  • What Kaplan Kids offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Customized learning plans
  • Real-Time Progress Reports track your child's progress
Online Only


  • What Kumon offers:
  • In-center tutoring
  • Individualized programs for your child
  • Helps your child develop the skills and study habits needed to improve their academic performance
In-Center and Online

Sylvan Learning

  • What Sylvan Learning offers:
  • Online and in-center tutoring
  • Sylvan tutors are certified teachers who provide personalized instruction
  • Regular assessment and progress reports
In-Home, In-Center and Online

Tutor Doctor

  • What Tutor Doctor offers:
  • In-Home tutoring
  • One on one attention by the tutor
  • Develops personlized programs by working with your child's existing homework
In-Home Only


  • What TutorVista offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Student works one-on-one with a professional tutor
  • Using the virtual whiteboard workspace to share problems, solutions and explanations
Online Only

Our Commitment to You

  • Free Help from Teachers

  • Free Learning Materials

  • Helping Disadvantaged Youth