It is generally recognized that e-tutoring poses different and distinct challenges to teaching and learning compared to face-to-face activity. From a pedagogical point of view, it has long been recognized that resource-based learning takes place most effectively when students are actively engaged in creating, manipulating, editing, annotating, and interpreting resources.
Level of effort & changing roles:
Classroom trainers have always worn many hats while the e-tutoring environment adds more. In the traditional education system, the teacher is the repository of knowledge and transmits it to a number of more or less willing students in a classroom environment. The biggest challenge for e-tutoring environment is to create an environment, and profile content tailor-made to the requirement of students, based on the respective syllabi. The on-line role is more challenging but more flexible and varied. The new job is to answer questions, to coach, to steer, to encourage, to lead -- but not to instruct. There's less travel and more variety. An online tutor has to surely exert greater efforts. Tutoring online requires the tutor to respond to individual learners consistently throughout the course.
For e-tutors, there is a change of role shift from ‘sage on stage’ to the ‘guide on side’. Making this role change is the key to successful e-tutoring. It is up to the e-tutor to make the learning possible, facilitate discussion, provide resources, and set expectations. As their lectures are vital to learning, e-tutors need to convert those lessons into more interactive formats that provide examples, and demonstrations.
Online Tutoring requires appropriate environment:
Contrary to the Classroom training, e-tutoring is often marked by frequent interruptions. The participants require continuous access to web; they may be disturbed by frequent calls or in-person demands that require immediate response. Tutor here has to monitor the tutoring sessions on a managed time schedule in a fashion that ensures an interruption free environment.
Online Tutoring requires significant participation:
The success of online tutoring largely depends on regular and consistent feedback and participation from the tutees. It is often observed by the online tutors that the tutees pull off from online tutoring sessions once they feel they have gained enough traction over the subject or extracted just what they needed from a subject. Participation is disrupted by other reasons too like obstacle in accessing the website, lack of interaction and encouragement from tutor, or due to complications with site navigation. The tutors have to ensure that participation to the tutoring session appears attractive and easy to the students. A regular and consistent feedback is to be provided to the students. Further if the online tutor can find out ways to require or reward participation, it would facilitate dedicated participation by the student.
There are few subjects that require significant human face to face interaction like physical and biological sciences, and subjects relating to soft skills. The course activities may require specialized equipment or skills. Further the assessment in training for soft skills in based on direct observation of learner’s behavior. Online Tutoring might not prove to be very successful in such cases.
Developing New Techniques and different instruction methods:
The structures, techniques and methods of traditional instructor led classroom training are well known to all. However the e-tutoring requires a different set of structures, techniques and methods. E-tutoring cannot merely be a delivery mechanism; it must have the power to transform the learning experience. The learner should be given an opportunity to read, study and reflect upon the topic of discussion through interactive discussions, active participation, performance support and collaboration. The e-tutor needs to provide a direction and motivation to the learner.