People tend to take their time when saving money, but if it comes to spending, they will spare no expenses. For the convenience of having a tutor at your disposal 24/7 and without any hassle, people spend big bucks on tutoring services today. If you aren’t satisfied with the results (or the price) of your current tutor, this article will give you some alternatives.
Utilizing a variety of online tools in the classroom helps in providing a more engaging learning experience for all. Below is a list of some selected free tools that may help you with your plans in the next school year.
Networking and Sharing Tools
Social media – They are good for communicating, sharing files and also to create a sense of community. For example, you could use Twitter to send quick updates to your learners or Facebook to create groups.
Email – Emails are always useful for sharing information and for personal communication.
Video sharing sites – Sites such as YouTube and Vimeo are useful if you want to post and share videos with your learners.
Forums and chat rooms – chat rooms allow people to communicate in real-time, while forums are more suited for asynchronous communication, when not all participants have to be online at the same time. Also, forums are divided into topics (called threads), which are moderated.
Files sharing services that use the cloud – These are tools that allow you to share files with other people, which are stored over the Internet (in the so-called cloud). File sharing services are particularly useful for sharing large files that are difficult to send by email. These services include, for example, Dropbox, Amazon Drive and Google Drive.
Diigo – It is a Chrome extension that you can use to collect, bookmark, annotate, organize and share internet resources.
MS Teams – Microsoft software to share and collaborate.
WeTransfer – Useful for transferring large files securely.
Padlet – It is an online tool to create boards and share them. It works as a kind of online board and sticky note system. Learners can collaborate online, see the boards populate in real-time and share the content of the boards. The boards can be populated with text, images, videos, audios and web links.
Lino – It works in the same way as Padlet, above.
Evernote – This is an app for taking notes and organizing, archiving and sharing materials.
Content Creation Tools
Microsoft Office – This is a software package that many of us use to produce teaching materials that you can use whether you teach online or in person.
For example, you can create charts and graphs with Excel, written documents with Word and presentations with PowerPoint. You can then use any of these files for your online teaching and share them with your learners.
With PowerPoint it is also possible to make videos, just using PowerPoint. However, I prefer to use some type of screen recording software for making videos using my PowerPoint slides, as it gives me greater control.
Video making – Videos are very useful for asynchronous teaching. You can film yourself speaking in front of a camera, or capture what is on your screen and record it (this type of video is called screencast).
Audio recording – Sometimes you might want to just share an audio file with your learners. If so, there are several voice recording apps that you can download to you on your smartphone or tablet such as Rev Voice Recorder or Voice Record Pro.
Audacity is a free recording and audio editing software.
Visuals – Visuals are very helpful for teaching as sometimes an image can have more impact than many words. Visuals include photos, graphs, mind-maps, and infographics.
An online tool that is very user friendly and good for creating all types of graphics, including infographics is Canva, of which there are free and paid-for plans.
You can also create visuals with MS Office programs. For example, PowerPoint can be used to create infographics, charts and a variety of visuals with its shapes and SmartArt functions.
Blogs – these may not be the most obvious tools for creating content. However, they can be used in various ways.
You could create a basic blog with information for your learners to read; you could ask your learners to create a basic blog as part of an activity or you could ask your learners to go online and research blogs about a certain topic.
LMS for Freelance Trainers
Teachable – This LMS is suitable for teaching asynchronously. It allows you to create and sell online courses and to add files such as videos, text, PDF etc. There are different price ranges, starting from a free plan, and each contains a variety of features.
Thinkific – Very similar to Teachable and it includes features such as quizzes, surveys and discussion boards.
Electa – This LMS is suited for teaching live classes and it is used both by schools and by individual teachers. Electa offers three pricing plans, which are quite affordable for a freelance trainer.
LMS for Companies
If you run a bigger company, you need more complex features and you can afford to pay more, I have listed some solutions below just to give you some examples (although there are many more to choose from if you search online):
Web Conferencing Platforms
Skype – One of the most commonly used platforms for video calls. It can be used on any type of electronic device and is free to use.
Zoom – It is free to use for up to 100 participants and it includes some collaboration features that are very useful if you are teaching a group of people online, such as breakout rooms and an online whiteboard.
G Suite by Google – It has some paid-for plans and it includes sharing features for people to work together and collaboration tools.
Adobe Connect – It is the most expensive out the options listed so far but it has a variety of tools that are included and that can be useful, depending on your needs and budget.
Plagtracker: Plagtracker is a plagiarism checker that includes an advanced algorithm and a high quality of text analysis.
4Teachers: This website provides tutors with many educational tools that enable them to create quizzes, write take-home notes, create and post lesson calendars, and get access to a great number of online lessons. Teachers and tutors can use 4Teachers to create their own lessons and integrate technology into their teaching style. QuizStar is one of the most popular tools on this website. You can use it to create quizzes in multiple languages and attach multimedia files to the questions.
Animoto: Animoto is a tool used to easily make videos to complement your lectures. You can choose one of the featured video styles and modify it to your preferences. This tool allows you to add music clips, images, videos and text, and then share them with the students you are tutoring.
Jing: Jing is an easy way to capture what you see on your computer screen, edit the screenshot, and share it with your students. Besides images, you can also use Jing to record your actions on the computer screen and create a fully narrated tutorial with an explanation for your students.
Padlet: This website provides a blank “wall” which you can use however you want. Think of it as an online whiteboard that’s a simple but effective way to share anything with your students like announcements or homework. Students can use this tool to build their own walls as well, so you can keep track of their progress on various projects and assignments.
Google Docs: Most teachers know about this popular collaborative tool, which can be one of the best for online tutoring.
Google Hangouts: Another popular collaborative tool in education, Hangouts allow tutors to host online group conversations in real time—or record Hangouts for later review.
IDroo: This is a popular tool for math tutors. It provides an online educational whiteboard that is complemented with Skype use. Tutors can use it to organize collaborative meetings and sessions with multiple participants, draw and write their ideas, and insert complex and simple mathematical equations easily. IDroo will give you a great virtual classroom – all you need to do is turn your creativity mode on and think of compelling ways to use it.
There are several cost-effective online tutoring tools for teachers to choose from as an addition to the conventional classroom. Some of these tools are easy to use and can be implemented to create a positive change in lesson interactions for both the students and the teachers. The bottom line is that online tutoring software is here, it’s effective, and you need to take advantage of it if you want your students who struggle with a subject to succeed…even if you don’t have much cash.