The Internet has certainly made it easier than ever for students and tutors to find each other, as WyzAnt's service demonstrates. We as tutors should also be aware of the many other tools available online to help us reach out to students.
Skype is a tool for communicating in real time via the Internet, including videoconferencing, making it an extremely powerful means of connecting with students before meeting in person. It's also an excellent method to speak with parents who would like to get more information prior to making arrangements for tutoring their child.
I've recently been turned on to the use of Skype and scribblar.com, a web application which allows both tutor and student to share use of a virtual whiteboard. (See links below.)
This combination makes possible an entirely online tutoring session, which in many ways improves on live, in-person tutoring. First, by eliminating the inconvenience of travel, we immediately see the benefit of one-on-one tutoring that can be just a few clicks away. There is also the benefit of the many drawing tools and colored pens/highlighters that are extra useful for illustrating the topics being covered. The use of cut-and-paste and undo/repeat also comes in handy. Overall it really makes for a cleaner lesson than piles of paper and notebooks scattered across a table. Sharing a virtual whiteboard also feels so much more natural than the traditional, teacher at board, student at desk environment still used in schools.
All these advantages could probably be topics for their own future posts, and I'll be working on expanding this blog in the weeks and months ahead. So check back periodically for more online tutoring techniques and tips. Perhaps I'll even record a video demonstration, which will show what a powerful combo Skype and scribblar.com can be for tutors and students alike. Thanks for reading! If you have any questions/comments or suggestions for future posts, I'd be happy to hear them.