In our new, SARS-CoV-2 world everyone is switching to remote work whenever possible. Luckily for those seeking tutoring, remote teaching not only is possible, it’s been my predominant way of doing things for a while now. Remote tutoring has worked well for students preparing for all the tests I teach.
When I was first asked to tutor over the web, back in 2011 when a friend of a friend living in Paris needed help on the LSAT, I was skeptical as to how well it would work. But then and since I have found remote tutoring to be remarkably effective. There will always be something special about the face-to-face, in-person meetings that we’re all missing these days, but I’ve had to admit that teaching can be accomplished just as well by sitting down and logging on. It’s easy to schedule, and of course it’s safer than in-person meetings; for many people it’s the only safe way to meet.
There are, of course, some technical requirements to make remote sessions go smoothly. If you need technical help just ask me. Roughly speaking you’ll need:
- A quiet workplace with a good internet connection (you might try testing yours at speedtest.net);
- A webcam and microphone (which just about every modern laptop and tablet have; a phone will do, too, though the smaller screen isn’t ideal); and
- The ability to use whichever conference service we decide on (see below for details on that).
I’ve done sessions on FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, and others. All of them work at least reasonably well. If you have FaceTime that’s easy, if not perfect. Skype was the standard option for a while and it works, though their servers do lag sometimes. You’ll need a Skype account with which to log in; my username there is atakdoug, though you can also find me by my e-mail or phone number. Log in, add me as a friend, and we’ll be good to go. (Note that I recommend downloading the client program — the dedicated application — and using that rather than connecting through a browser, as the interface is easier to deal with, but browsers work too.)
My preferred connection method these days is Zoom, which I find tends to give higher quality video and audio. Zoom seems to be the platform that’s taking off most as people are increasingly locked down, so you may already be familiar with it, but here are the basics:
You don’t need a (free) Zoom account but it helps, and as with Skype, you don’t need the client application but that helps too. If you don’t have either I can send you a link to each of our meetings1 and you can just click that link, but better would be to go to Zoom.us, create an account, download the client application, and then use that.
Another issue you might worry about is time zones. I live in Tucson, Arizona, which means that for over the winter I’m in the Mountain time zone but over the summer (which means about two thirds of the year I am effectively on Pacific time because Arizona does not observe daylight saving time.2 This means it’s pretty simple to schedule with students on the West Coast; for those in the Eastern or Central time zones we just have to remember to keep it in mind. But don’t think of this as a barrier: I have worked with students from around the world3, and have also conducted sessions while traveling many times.4 It just takes a little forethought about what time it is where.
If you need any help with any of this, just ask me.
- In fact I have my own dedicated meeting room, so the link is the same every time.
- You may think it’s weird that Arizona doesn’t change its clocks in the summer but expert consensus is leaning more and more away from daylight saving time. The main reason that was originally advanced for DST, that it saves energy, may have been true once upon a time but largely isn’t any more, and an increasing body of research is showing that changing our clocks is bad for people’s health. There are pros and cons and it isn’t simple (there are books written about the question), but if you’re interested in the issue you can beginning reading about it here, here, and here.
- I’ve had several students from Europe and a couple who lived in Asia
- I have conducted sessions from eleven different time zones, I believe.