'Teaching & Learning' is a weekly column on education and related issues.
Every evening after school when his classmates head towards private tuition centres, G. Aahir gets back home to read his lessons. While others brush up their subjects at the private coaching classes, Aahir learns those concepts, reclining on his favourite couch.
The online classes for which he recently enrolled give him all that a tuition centre offers, in the comforts of his house. For someone who could not find a Physics tutor in his area, the online course came in handy. He is now a student of an Indian research scholar based in Germany, who has simplified some of the complex concepts in the subject.
“We learn through a digital whiteboard software. He has given me a lot of reference material, which has improved my understanding of the subject,” says the class XII student of Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan, Nungambakkam.
With private tuitions for higher secondary becoming a norm, online tuitions have come as an attractive option for the students. They come with a promise of easy learning, individual attention and learning without having to move out of home.
2tion.com, an entity of Edserv, has nearly 800 students in Chennai who are taking the help of the online tutors, and 20,000 students who have registered to get their doubts cleared. “Online courses for spoken English are a major market for us. Tuition for school students is also growing, but at a slow pace,” says Sujai.G of 2tion.com.
Though the concept of online tutors has appealed to a good number of students, conventional tuition centres still remain the choice of many parents. The one-on-one online classes were not impressive enough for M. Vidya, class XI student. “Most of these online classes work only when students take the initiative to ask doubts. But my daughter needed someone to refresh her school lessons. So it did not work for her,” says her mother V.Alarmelvalli.
Tutors Worldwide, which launched the online tuition option six years ago, closed down its Indian centre recently in view of the lukewarm response. “We only run for the U.S. market now. Chennai is yet to get familiarised with the concept. Affordability is also a challenge for many,” explains Mahalingam Vaidyanathan, COO, Tutors Worldwide.
But the company plans to give it a try once again next year by offering the online tuition services for students of tier II and III cities such as Tiruchi, Tirunelveli and Coimbatore. “Online tuition is the best option for low-scoring students as it gives practical insights, unlike the tuition centres which are just extended classrooms,” Mr. Vaidyanathan adds.
School teachers, however, observe that the online classes might not always work, if the parents are not watchful enough. “Online courses give students a lot of freedom. They can choose to follow the classes or browse other websites. It needs constant observation from the parents,” says Vidya Narasimhan, a higher secondary school teacher of a private school.