Trial-and-error during the pandemic has provided a wealth of information about what works in a remote tutoring environment.
To customize the online setup, here are a few considerations:
- Earbuds/Headset: Some students prefer to use earbuds or a headset to block out ambient sound.
- Computer vs iPad: Students who try to engage with remote tutoring using only an iPad tend to struggle. Optimally, the student’s tech setup for remote learning should include a computer with the Zoom app installed, a full-sized monitor, a built-in camera, and a high-speed internet connection. Alternatively, students can use one device for the call with the tutor, and another for sharing documents and working on writing. However, relying solely on a small iPad screen makes multitasking difficult and can be frustrating for some students.
- Phone Call vs Zoom Video: If a student does not have access to high-speed internet capable of handling video or does not have a computer with a built-in camera, then a cellphone can serve as an alternative mode of connection for discussing writing. Nonetheless, some sort of mobile data or internet connection will be needed to share the writing, in the form of a Google Doc or Word Doc.
Options for Sharing Writing
Sharing writing is critical for making remote learning work smoothly. My goal is to rely on technology, while also respecting the needs of the student.
Young students and students with less keyboard experience may be able to write more fluently on paper; however, technology will need to come into play to share the work.
Using Google Docs:
- Shared View: Tutor and student have the exact same view of the document. Both can read, edit, or comment on the text in real-time.
- Links to Resources: Google Docs can provide a permanent location for links to online resources, which the student can use for future writing sessions.
- Using Gmail: Students can use their own Gmail account to create Google Docs and share them with the tutor. This gives them maximum control over their writing.
- Notebook: Spiral notebooks make it easier to keep all writing together in one location to build on skills over time.
- Lined Paper: If a notebook is not available, set up a folder for storing loose leaf lined paper (college or wide ruled).
- Pen and Pencil Options: Students may benefit from a range of writing implements, such as pens, pencils, mechanical pencils, gel pens, highlighters, or markers.
- Sharing the Text: To share work on paper, students can take a pic of the text using their cellphone, then email or text it to the tutor.
Using Offline Documents:
- Creating Documents: Students can use Word or other editor to create a digital document.
- Export Formats: Students need to save or export the document in a format that can be viewed by the tutor (for example, .docx, .doc, .txt, or .pdf).
- Email: The student can attach the digital document to an email to send it to the tutor. Both tutor and student can view the document offline while discussing the writing via Zoom meeting or cellphone call.