Online Volunteer Tutoring – Oli’s story

July 02, 2020 by Tas F
Image Over the last few months, Oli has been supporting two students with their Physics and Chemistry A-Level studies. He’s a passionate, skilled and experienced tutor and has been an outstanding asset to our programme. This week, we reached out to find out a little bit more about him and see how he’s finding tutoring in our new, online world!

Tell us a little bit about you…

For the last five years or so, I have been working as a private tutor alongside developing a career as a Musical Director in the theatre industry. Having read chemical engineering at university, I teach maths and sciences from primary school up to A-level as well as piano, music theory and voice. With most performing arts venues being closed at the moment, I decided to donate some of my new-found free time to join the volunteer programme! I am currently stuck in my flat in North London.

How have you found teaching online?

Before lockdown, I delivered lessons both online and face-to-face so it wasn't a massive shock for me to have to move everything online. Personally, I have always preferred tutoring in person as I think it is easier to keep students, especially younger ones, engaged. I like to work with a pile of scrap paper and draw lots of things out which isn't possible when tutoring online. However, I have found online whiteboard tools such as the one in Zoom to be an effective substitute although it does take longer to draw things. I'm sure tutors, as well as others who spend a lot of time talking to people through computer screens, would agree that working online is much more exhausting than working face-to-face as there just aren't as many body language cues to pick up on.

How have you found the technology? What issues have you had and have you managed to find solutions?

I have had a few teething issues with Bramble although I understand why the foundation has adopted it as a platform; it is very simple to use and lessons are recorded which is necessary from a safeguarding perspective but also means students can look back at any work annotated during the session. Bramble is quite unstable unless used through Chrome on a laptop; one student has been working off a phone causing the app to crash often and stopping the video tool from working. The platform could also benefit from having some improved tools - perhaps a better text writing tool, something to draw straight lines and a pointer or highlighter; it has been a little tricky drawing and talking about different molecular structures and reaction mechanisms without any of these things!

Would you recommend the programme to other tutors?

The Tutorfair Foundation volunteer programme provides an incredibly important service and I don't regret signing up. It has been extremely rewarding to see my students develop over the last few months, especially at a time when they need even more support than normal with their education. The fact that my students would not otherwise be able to access one-on-one tutoring without the Foundation makes it all the more important that tutors continue to offer their time to this worthwhile cause.

If you’re interested in volunteering with the Foundation, you can let us know here. If you would like to arrange tutoring for the young people you work with, register your interest here. If you have any questions about our online or in-school programmes, get in touch at
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