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What Is Going to Happen This Year In Tutoring? | LearnCube Blog

Are you ready for the challenges and opportunities that 2022 is going to throw at you?


Strengths of the Tutoring Industry


Firstly, our strength is our people. The tutoring community is growing, and as we all come from a place of wanting to improve the lives of students, we tend to see each other as colleagues, rather than competitors. 


This makes being a tutor more enjoyable and allows us to build strong networks and support each other. There are so many great tutoring communities out there, including Qualified Tutor and The Tutors' Association. These communities are filled with great people who are excited by teaching and helping others. In addition, there are hundreds of resources online, many free, which can offer support with marketing, tutoring, running a business, and more.



Secondly, the development and application of technology have also become a strength. The pandemic was a catalyst for transformation. Tutors and students proved to be willing and able to switch to online tutoring within days of the lockdowns of Q1 2020, all with minimal disruption. Many started with applying business web-conferencing software like Zoom and Teams. These were easy to start with, often free during lockdowns and satisfied tutors' needs to connect online with students. Subsequently, we’re seeing new developments from the specialist virtual classroom and online tutoring platform providers like LearnCube. Virtual classrooms enhance the learning environment with maths tools, language tools and integrations to popular services such as YouTube and Google Drive. Online tutoring platforms are streamlining the experience for students, offering great flexibility and making it easy for online payments. 


In 2022, we expect in-person tutoring to bounce back but the biggest resistance may come from tutors themselves. Many online tutors do not want to revert to in-person because it adds extra travel costs, is harder to schedule, and often the pay is the same.  



Weaknesses 


Tutors provide so much more than just after-school, subject-specific help, tutors often have to play the part of a coach, cheerleader, mentor, older sibling, counsellor, and role model. So while a strength of the tutoring sector in the UK is its people, a weakness is the number of professional tutors.


A few ways we can differentiate a professional tutor from a novice tutor are:


  • Number of years of experience tutoring a subject,

  • Approach to tutoring and confidence (online, in-person or both) 

  • Professional development the tutor has invested in, 

  • Proven track record of getting students results.


So many people take up tutoring as a “side hustle” to make some money alongside their studies which they give up once they move to their first “real” job. There are possibly enough novice tutors but it is still taking some convincing for tutors to commit to being a tutor full-time. This commitment is what is needed to elevate the professionalism and trust of the tutoring sector.


A further weakness (or as Richard says, an ‘opportunity to learn and improve’) is that it is not particularly easy to differentiate between novice and professional tutors. Often prospects, or parents, choose a tutor based on the university they went to or the agency recommendation, rather than a transparent, verifiable set of criteria proving the tutor’s experience, professional development, and track record.




Opportunities


There are so many opportunities presented to us in 2022 but let's look at two key ones:


  1. The ‘Professionalisation’ of Tutoring


Alex, Julia and Richard were all optimistic about this trend of tutors choosing to tutor full-time and professionally. More and more tutors are finding tutoring to be both financially and intellectually rewarding. While we should expect more tutors to take advantage of the opportunities to develop their professional skills, we have the training organisations, tutoring communities and resources to make this happen.



  1. Technology that Verifies Professional Tutors


Tutors, tutoring agencies and tutoring sector stakeholders can avoid regulation being imposed on them by taking the initiative to define the value of tutoring.


How can we prove our value as tutors and instil confidence in our students and their parents?


We can achieve this by setting goals and leveraging technology to quantify and verify tutoring success.



Success could be taking a student from not being able to stand 10 minutes of online maths tuition to being able to engage for a whole hour. It could also be in taking someone up a grade in a subject they usually struggle with.


So how do we verify results and experience?


We have integrated virtual classrooms to track data, we can timestamp when classes happen, we can verify student or parent feedback. We have smarter tutoring management platforms to gather this data and present it to interested stakeholders. There are also new technologies such as blockchain to add more rigour to the verification process.


This use of technology would be a big opportunity for the sector to prove its worth, build trust and enable prospective students and parents to make more informed choices. As Alex suggested, "the number of views is a metric that helps us understand whether a tutor is “off the shelf” fresh last week or they’ve been doing it for 10 years … if they’ve got four thousand hours of online tutoring experience then I want to know that and I don’t feel that is currently shown or verified in a very good way."



  1. Technology that Supports and Elevates Tutoring


Technology, with quality training, offers a big opportunity to improve access and the quality of tutoring, both in-person and online. Interactive whiteboards, smart breakout rooms, automated note-taking, content generation or recommendation, and safeguarding can support the growth and trust of in-person tutoring. 


Similar technologies, plus online tutoring management software, will improve the efficiency of tutors and tutoring companies. These efficiency improvements reduce the costs and workload for tutors and administrators. They offer flexibility to work at home, rather than in-person at costly offices or schools. All of these improvements support lower prices for students, higher profits for tutoring entrepreneurs, more professional tutors and the sustained growth of the tutoring sector.



Threats


Arguably the biggest threat to the tutoring sector is negative PR. Tutoring has often been associated with aggravating inequality and adding stress to students and parents trying to “keep up with the Joneses”. This can prompt regulation which can stifle innovation and growth of the sector. An extreme example of this scenario was observed last year with new regulations placed on tutoring in China, devastating the sector and wiping billions of dollars in market value.


Likewise, stories of ineffective, unsafe or excessively expensive tutoring erode trust. 


Tutors need to be sufficiently paid. By ensuring that higher prices are available for some tutors, we attract highly educated competent people into the industry. However, if tutoring is seen as both expensive and lacking professionalism (in other words being seen as poor or of questionable value), then students and parents will lose faith in the tutoring sector. What’s really important is for the sector to be able to offer a strong spread - a deep pool of both novice and expert tutors. Professional tutors should be able to charge more while students and parents should be able to expect more from the experience too.



A further threat is the over-commercialisation of tutoring, where tutoring companies focus on extracting value rather than creating value for students and society. Group classes are an area to watch. Splitting the high cost of a tutor makes commercial sense, and may be a good tradeoff, but may also hollow out the effectiveness of tutoring or reduce its perceived value.


So what would we do if we had a magic wand to wave over the education landscape and improve it?


We’d want to see individualised education opportunities, a higher percentage of professional full-time tutors, and an education system that intentionally combines tutoring and classroom learning. 


What would you want to see? Comment your ideas below.


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This blog is based on the 100th episode of the Qualified Tutor podcast, named "100th Episode Special: An Analysis of the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats in the Tutoring Industry 2022". This podcast featured Alex Asher (CEO of LearnCube), Julia Silver (tutor and founder of Qualified Tutor) and Richard Evans (founder of The Profs). 🙌


This blog post has covered the key points covered in the podcast, but if you’d like to listen to the full episode, then you can do so here.


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