Online Tutoring

Last Updated on March 6, 2024 by Nadeem Ahmed

Online tutoring has gained rapid popularity in recent years. The flexibility and convenience of virtual sessions make it an attractive option for many students and parents. However, the online learning environment also comes with unique challenges that can disrupt the tutoring process. By understanding and addressing common obstacles, parents and students can unlock the full potential of online tutoring.

Identifying Key Challenges in Online Tutoring

Several recurring issues tend to hamper the online tutoring experience. Understanding the core areas where students face difficulties is the initial step in addressing these challenges through targeted strategies.

Engagement Levels: 

Numerous surveys indicate that online tutors commonly express concern about a lack of engagement, which is cited as a significant issue. Students miss the in-person interactions and accountability of a traditional classroom. Without proper motivation, students’ attention wanders, impacting their learning. 

Tutors point out that students often get distracted by phones, websites, or apps during sessions. Some even multitask or wander away briefly from the computer screen during lessons. This divided focus makes it difficult for students to retain information.

By maintaining an open dialogue, parents can stay informed about their child’s progress. Online tutors can tailor their approach to better suit the student’s needs. Staying self-driven over weeks or months of remote learning can be demanding for students accustomed to structured school environments. Feelings of isolation can also contribute to a decline in interest over time.

Sustaining student engagement requires creative solutions to recreate positive in-person dynamics in a virtual setting. This helps students absorb material optimally.

Technical Disruptions

Research shows that a substantial portion of students face technical issues during online classes. These include issues like:

  • Video conferencing glitches – frozen screens, choppy audio/video
  • Platform conflicts – software not compatible across devices
  • Internet connectivity losses – sessions dropping or lagging
  • Hardware issues – camera, mic, or speaker malfunctions

Technical disruptions like these can be frustrating and detrimental, often causing lags or pauses that disrupt student concentration and affect session quality. For parents investing in online tutoring, these tech barriers seem invalidating.

Tutors who are skilled in troubleshooting and have backup tech tools are better equipped to address these hurdles when they unexpectedly arise during a session.

Time Management Difficulties 

Struggling with online tutoring timing with extracurriculars and family commitments can be challenging, especially for younger students without structured schedules. 

Students forget session times or procrastinate assignments without in-person reminders. Maintaining consistency requires conscious effort and planning.

Establishing digital calendars, reminders, timers, and weekly goals can help alleviate scheduling chaos that disrupts tutoring routines. Structure is key to overcoming this challenge.

Communication Gaps

Online tutors have trouble maintaining communication with students and parents. This includes issues like: 

  • Unclear expectations on both sides
  • Lack of accountability for either party
  • Not providing adequate progress updates
  • Delayed responses to questions
  • Inefficient tools for coordination

Such communication barriers negatively impact the student-tutor partnership vital for progress. Without a school ecosystem for exchanging feedback, tutors must create their own channels to bridge information gaps.

Regular check-ins, shared journals, and centralized communication platforms allow tutors, students, and parents to stay aligned. This level of transparency and responsiveness prevents problems.

Effective Strategies to Overcome Online Tutoring Challenges

While these issues can seem daunting, several practical strategies can help overcome roadblocks and create successful online tutoring outcomes. Online tutors can enhance the learning experience by fostering a positive and interactive virtual environment. Utilizing advanced technologies, online tutors can employ multimedia resources, interactive whiteboards, and real-time collaboration tools to engage students effectively. 

Boost Student Engagement

Gamification, interactive activities, real-world examples, and positive reinforcement are excellent techniques to boost lagging engagement, as noted by tutors. Short and focused engagement activities also help combat online distractions.

Daniel, an 8th grader, was increasingly distracted and disinterested during his online math tutoring sessions. His tutor introduced rewards like badges and points for completed tasks. She also wove into engaging math games and puzzles during lessons. Within weeks, Daniel was much more attentive and motivated.  

Resolve Technical Issues

Considering that the students face tech problems, tutors should be proficient at troubleshooting common issues like lagging video, audio glitches, and connectivity losses. Having backup tools and contingencies helps minimize disruption during sessions.

When software bugs caused repeated session interruptions for 10th grader Sarah, her tutor suggested shifting to a different video conferencing platform. He also put together step-by-step guides on tech troubleshooting so such issues could be rapidly resolved. 

Implement Time Management Strategies 

Create consistent tutoring schedules with reminders, use calendars to schedule sessions, and set weekly goals to stay on track. Students struggle with time management, so structure and planning are essential.  

Toby, a busy high school sophomore, found it challenging to balance his online tutoring sessions with extracurricular activities. His tutor helped create a weekly schedule that aligned with Toby’s other commitments. She also set reminders before each session, helping Toby stick to the routine.  

Maintain Open Communication Channels

Email and chat groups that involve parents, students, and tutors facilitate seamless coordination, as emphasized by the tutors who encounter communication challenges. Regular check-ins and feedback sessions also help pinpoint and resolve issues early.

Allan, a 6th grader, was making slow progress in his online math sessions. His tutor set up a shared online journal where Allan could flag any concepts he was struggling with. She also held weekly video calls with his parents to exchange feedback. This improved communication enabled better support.

Conclusion: Engaged Students Learn Better Online  

Online learning is evolving rapidly, and ongoing improvements will further enhance virtual tutoring outcomes. However, applying the strategies outlined here can already help students stay motivated and digitally connected. 

Through proactive measures to enhance engagement, streamline scheduling, minimize technical disruptions, and facilitate effective communication, parents and students can unlock the full potential of online tutoring. With some planning and effort, challenges can be overcome, and online success achieved.


How can I ensure my child stays engaged during online tutoring sessions?

Set up the learning space to minimize distractions and create engagement cues like study posters. Encourage tutors to use interactive content like games, videos, and share screens. Encourage praise and incentivize active participation and progress, as engaged students tend to be more motivated.

What should I do if we encounter technical issues during a tutoring session?

Ask the tutor if they can troubleshoot common issues like lag, audio problems, or connectivity losses. Have backup devices, internet connections, or tools ready. Switching platforms can resolve software conflicts. Stay patient and maintain a positive attitude. Technical glitches can be frustrating but are typically resolvable.

How can I manage my child’s online tutoring schedule alongside their regular schoolwork? 

Use digital or physical calendars to map out tutoring and school commitments. Set reminders for sessions and deadlines. Automating scheduling helps avoid conflicts. Establish and follow consistent weekly routines. Having a structured plan helps prevent scheduling chaos.