Online Learning Tools

Nov 21, 13 Online Learning Tools

Tis the age for online learning.


As am I, both as a teacher and a student.   Of course, not every online teacher out there has access to the top-notch online correspondence softwares that major universities use, such as Blackboard or Adobe Connect, but there are plenty of other, FREE options.

I use the following software:

  • Google DocsGoogle Docs does several things the right way. You can create various types of documents including word-type, spreadsheets, drawings, and presentations within Google. Anyone you share the document with can view the document with you and interact with the document live. This means I can watch my students type out an essay and offer immediate advice as they do so, and I can add in an edit or two on my own, highlight areas that need work and offer suggestions right in the document as they type. PLUS Google automatically saves the document and stores it on their own servers. If I need more space, I can add it very cheaply.What if I need to teach math? The google draw program will allow me to interact with my students as if I stood at the whiteboard in a classroom. I can also watch my students calculate answers to math and science programs real-time in a Google drawing. Caveats: The google draw program has issues with the scribble function. It would be nice if it behaved like Photoshop, but instead it takes my strokes and makes a best fit mathematical curve out of them, rendering my handwriting hard to read sometimes, but I have gotten used to it.
  • Google Remote DesktopThis is an application specific to Google Chrome browser. It allows one user to share his desktop to let the other view and share control of activities. This is perfect for things like remotely teaching how to use software such as spreadsheets and word processors, and to troubleshoot.
  • SkypeI use Skype for audio communication computer to computer. It is free and easy to use. Skype does allow screen share, but it doesn’t offer the interactivity that Google Remote Desktop does.
  • TMS (Tutor Matching Service)This is a FREE whiteboard app for the iPad. Basically, tutor and student meet in a room and both can draw on the iPad screen together. TMS also offers video and audio, so it is a complete package in itself. Caveats: This one has a glaring caveat in that the service worked perfectly with iOS6, but the update to iOS7 makes it impossible to navigate to different rooms, likewise making it impossible to meet with your student in the same room unless either the student or the tutor still has iOS6. I hope TMS will update this issue, but despite my emails and requests to them, no updates are currently available to fix the bug.


I use the following hardware:

  • iBookProAlthough mine is several years old, it still runs like a champ. It has all the bells and whistles needed to get online and teach without having to do any setup. Camera and microphone are preinstalled and work wonderfully.
  • iPadI have an iPad 2. It works wonderfully. Not only does it help me tutor using the TMS whiteboard, there are tons of educational apps that add to a student’s toolbox for school. I will blog about some of these in the future.
  • iPad keyboardI use the Logitech keyboard. It is easy to type with and feels like a mini computer. The keyboard attaches to the iPad like a smart cover.
  • Wacom tabletThis is essential for both student and tutor to have. I use it in Google docs to write and solve math problems while my student watches. In turn, I will have them solve problems that I write on the screen, too. The pad allows them to write on the computer with their handwriting, allowing me to see their process as if I was sitting next to them looking over their shoulder so I can catch any mistakes as they occur.

With the proper tools, online learning can be even better than driving over to the local tutoring company, as timing is more flexible. I encourage anyone having difficulty getting tutoring in person to try a few lessons online, and I encourage more tutors to try it out as well!.

1 Comment

  1. /

    I like the homework help videos and homework corrections. I have been on this website once or twice and it is really helpful. But the front page is kind of confusing with all of the titles and subtitles.

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