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Online Tutoring and Divided Opinions

India was a colony in the British Empire. But now Indian tutors teach math to some British children over high-speed Internet connections.

Online tutoring can improve student performance. But not everyone is happy about this outsourcing of tutors.

It’s three-thirty in the afternoon at Raynham Primary School in London. Students gather for their after-school math lesson. Five time zones and thousands of kilometers away, their math tutors arrive for class. Each pupil has an individual online tutor. The students do activities on their computer screen and can talk to their tutor with a microphone and headset.

Their classroom teacher, Altus Basson, says he sees better grades from students.

Nine-year-old Samia Abdul-Kadir says she likes the online lessons. She has difficulty in class. Samia can understand the tutor online.

Her friend, Abdul-Fadil Badori, agrees.

He says, “Online, you can hear it, it’s not shared by everyone. Everyone has different subjects that they learn.”

Tom Hooper is the owner of the online tutoring company. The company is called BrightSpark Education. Online tutoring costs $20 or $25 per hour. A tutor in-person can cost $40 or $50 per hour.

But some people, like Kevin Courtney, say an Internet connection is not enough of a connection for teaching and learning. Kevin Courtney is deputy general secretary of Britain’s National Union of Teachers.

Kevin says, “There is something really important about the emotional connection between a teacher and a child.”

The teacher’s union doesn’t believe that relationship can be strong across an Internet connection.

BrightSpark Education says the online tutoring can help regular classes. The company says its service cannot replace teachers’ jobs in Britain. Some parents say they are satisfied with the results. And what about the children?

The children say they love the tutoring, but hate the math.

So, math – or, as the British call it, maths – is still not everyone’s favorite subject even with the latest technology to teach it.