With the growing number of students enrolling online to utilize digital learning resources—more than 6.3 million students in the U.S. alone—there is absolutely no doubt that e-learning has come and is here to stay. From its humble beginnings in the 1960s, where computer terminals in the University of Illinois were linked so that students may access course materials and recorded lectures, up to its development in the 1980s through the EUN or Electronic University Network that offered the very first online course even before the birth of the World Wide Web, to its evolution in 2002 when MIT started offering online materials and lectures for free to anyone in the world (six years later the term “massive online open course” or MOOC would be coined, referring to what MIT started at the time), online learning has become a viable means for learners worldwide to learn anytime, anywhere, at their own convenience, usually at a cost that is more affordable than traditional education.
Various e-learning sites have sprouted over the past decades, and while some have gone, many have stayed and in fact have become authorities in the field of online learning resources, with names such as Coursera, Udacity, and edX becoming synonymous with e-learning. Even traditional universities have kept abreast with the trend by expanding their offered courses online, and so digital platforms like Open Yale Courses and MIT OpenCourseWare were born. At present, we are looking at online learning not as a replacement for traditional educational setting but as a progressive yet practical educational setting in its own right.
In Singapore, a strong commitment to excellent education has pushed e-learning beyond simply providing online access to educational content. In recent years, online education in the country has seen a number of new approaches that not only appeal to university students but to very young children as well. To begin with, “gamification” or game-based learning is at its forefront.
Fun learning games that attract and keep the attention of toddlers have become very popular and are in fact becoming more interactive to avoid young children from feeling isolated. Learners have also seen and experienced the rise of what is called “adaptive learning,” which counters traditional education’s idea of “one-size-fits-all” in that it recognizes that different individuals have different learning levels, styles, and pace, and so instruction has to be tailored according to the specific needs of learners. Another important trend is the movement toward “microlearning,” which emphasizes the need to divide big lessons or concepts into manageable chunks to encourage faster retention and avoid rote memorization.
Locally, as it strives to make sure that no child is left behind, Singapore is quick to welcome alternative learning resources and strategies. And so while it keeps up with the latest digital technology to boost learning, it also utilizes the educational and social aspect of tuition centres, private tutor, and enrichment classes. At present, the country has numerous tuition centres and a thriving tuition culture that is sustained by the ever-growing demand to make children competitive not only in school but for their future, as they prepare to be adults in a progressive country with an equally progressive economy that has recently placed the U.S. economy behind it in world rankings.
At present, the country’s tuition industry is at an estimated worth of $1.1 billion—which is already twice its worth just a decade ago—and about 97% of Singaporean students have attended some form of tuition at one point. There are many factors to this rise in numbers, but mainly, the increase is simply a reflection of Singapore being a first-world economy that delivers its promise of excellent education that consistently ranks high among world education systems.
And it seems like the numbers have been paying off. In 2016, PISA or the Program for International StudentAssessment, a worldwide study of 15-year-old students’ performance on mathematics, science and reading, Singapore ranked first among 70 nations, including similar education giants such as China and Japan. It ranked number one in all three subjects, coming in highest in Mathematics with a score of 564, 556 in Science, and 535 in Reading. These scores speak about the superiority of students from Singapore in all three fields in terms of global competence, with math being their dominant subject. And to maintain such high degree of competence, local tuition focuses on math more than any other subject, as evidenced by 73.5% of families with children that undergo math tuition classes.
Depending on the need, tuition in the country usually comes in these forms: tuition centres, private tutors, and enrichment classes. Among these, tuition centres are the most common because they are usually the most affordable. In recent years, however, Google has observed a steady interest in private tutors among Singaporean users based on searches done in the search engine.
And so it comes as no surprise that live online tutorial platforms are becoming increasingly popular—it is created by the steady demand for tutors that would specifically cater to learners’ need on a one-to-one basis and the fact that learners are technology-savvy youngsters that have grown in the age of online learning. But how is it different from traditional face-to-face tuition, and how can parents be assured that they and their children get the best out of online tutorial platforms? Here is an FAQ that will cover the basics about the new face of tuition services in the country.
And so it comes as no surprise that live online tutorial platforms are becoming increasingly popular—it is created by the steady demand for tutors that would specifically cater to learners’ need on a one-to-one basis and the fact that learners are technology-savvy youngsters that have grown in the age of online learning. But how is it different from traditional face-to-face tuition? And how can parents be assured that they and their children get the best out of online tutorial platforms? Here is an FAQ that will cover the basics about the new face of tuition services in the country.
What are the common features of live online tutoring?
Live online tuition comes in the form of websites that offer tutorial services to learners on a one-to-one basis in a virtual environment. Usually, when learners visit online tuition sites, they are first greeted by a chat box with a friendly bot or online support that would assist them in finding what they are looking for. As they navigate their way and go around the website, they would find that these chat boxes are helpful in the same way that teachers are helpful to children on their first day of school, when they are in a new or unfamiliar environment. Similarly, this text chat feature comes in handy during the introduction stages of a tutor and a learner, when the learner has just chosen a tutor. The learner and/or his parents can chat with a tutor to get to know him or be comfortable with him during this getting-to-know period, and the tutor can do the same to assure the learner and his parents that he has made the right decision. Also, right before a tutorial session, the learner can simply message his tutor about the specific lessons or activities that they need to cover so that no time is wasted during the actual session. During ongoing sessions, chat boxes are also used in communicating words or texts between the learner and tutor, even when a headset or earpiece is already in use, as it helps clarify possible confusion over spoken words.
Headsets or ear piece with a working microphone is a requirement in live online tuition because it fundamentally relies on verbal interaction between the learner and the tutor. As opposed to a one-way transfer of information wherein there is no room for discourse or feedback, audio functionality plays a vital role in carrying out successful live online tutorials. Here, verbal communication isn’t just an option anymore. Unlike traditional classroom or tuition centre settings wherein a handful of students go unnoticed even if they do not talk or participate in class because of the teacher-to-student ratio, live online tuition requires the learner to speak directly to his tutor, answer questions, and converse. This is actually a good way to get shy or quiet learners to try and practice expressing themselves verbally, in a safe space nonetheless, with the guidance of an adult that he is comfortable with. And because the learner needs to respond to the tutor accordingly, he needs to listen well and focus his attention, too—unlike traditional classroom settings wherein an inattentive learner can typically go unnoticed or be overlooked.
At present, online video libraries have numerous ready-made videos about Singapore Maths and other subjects that may be accessed by learners anytime, anywhere. Websites such as https://teachablemath.com/ and https://www.onlinemathlearning.com/singapore-math.html do not only offer free examples, online activities and worksheets but also have a collection of video lessons that are very useful and effective in assisting learners toward subject mastery. Yet live online tuition has managed to take this basic function to another level as it aims for real-time interaction (through the use of a web camera) that is similar to face-to-face tutoring, without all the hassle of travelling or meeting fixed schedules.
It also maximizes current digital technology as it makes a number of other features available through video communication: screen sharing, wherein a tutor can share the screen of his device to the learner and vice-versa, so as to show materials or resources that he is using, or to make sure that tutor and learner are on the same page of a specific topic or lesson, literally and figuratively; virtual or interactive whiteboard which functions like a blackboard in a traditional classroom setting, wherein a tutor can make quick and short notes or to illustrate specific points; video playback of virtual tutorial sessions, which means that live online tutorials may be recorded and then replayed and watched by the learner at a later time, either for his or her personal review, or to assist in self-paced studying. Parents can also benefit from this if they want to get involved in their child’s understanding of a particular topic, or to simply monitor which lessons or subjects the tutor has covered.
With the way digital technology is designed, children worldwide have been spending more and more time online. In Singapore alone, children spend 35 hours a week online in front of their desktop or laptop computers or tablet devices. This number increases if they own mobile phones, which adds 10 hours more to their average online time. This habit of spending a huge chunk of their childhood virtually—either to play, learn, or socialize—has changed the attitudes of young people when it comes to learning. Children nowadays do not only grow up comfortable in digital environments; they are also very rarely intimidated by new technology and instead are often challenged by it. This, in turn, creates a generation of children (Gen Z learners) that demand learning that is fun, fast, and interactive. And this is where live online tuition draws its advantage: it combines both human and technological aspects of learning by having an online tutor instruct and interact real-time with the learner through the use of a video device (web camera) and an audio device (speaker and ear piece). As it revolutionizes instruction by employing the latest technology, it keeps to the heart of learning by retaining the components of both verbal and non-verbal communication, and auditory and visual cognition.
Why try live online tuition?
Ease of access
With just a stable Internet connection and a desktop or laptop computer with a working camera, ear piece or headphones, and microphone, anyone can create an account and sign up for live online tutorials. Learners are usually free to choose a live tutor that they would be comfortable with and would suit their specific learning needs—and this they may do so with just a click or a tap, without all the social awkwardness that a child may feel from meeting a new tutor and parting away with an old one. And because most, if not all, online tuition websites have text chat features, audio and video capabilities, and document or file sharing functions, users can learn just as if they are in a classroom—either from the comfort of their own homes or bedroom or any place with a WiFi connection—with quicker access to tutoring resources and materials made available to them both online and offline.
Live online tuition websites have a pool of tutors that work for them either full-time or part-time, and so parents can expect qualified tutors, most of which are experts in their fields, to assist their children one-on-one. These tutors do not need to follow curricula unless requested but rather, they personalize their lessons according to the specific academic needs of each individual learner. Even during actual live online tutorials, they can adjust their teaching pace to match the learner’s so as to guarantee comprehension and avoid rote learning. And, as learners and/or parents have the option to review qualifications, credentials, and areas of expertise of different tutors, they are able to make informed decisions. Therefore, they can choose a tutor of their own liking—a qualified and trusted adult who will hand-hold their child through difficult lessons, motivate them in their scholastic performance, and build their confidence in being their best selves in school.
Perhaps one of the best features of online tutorial services is that it gives learners the freedom to manage their own time. As it is, Singapore students are already spending about 9.4 hours a week on homework. Add to that the actual hours spent in school, and the need for flexible tutorial hours arises. It is a good thing that most live online tutoring websites offer a wide option of schedules, such as on-demand sessions for learners who only need tutors at the moment or for a short period, say, for a review for an upcoming exam; scheduled sessions for learners who would want to follow through a strict or routine schedule of tutorial, to address difficulties in a specific subject or concept, for example; and 24/7 availability for the more dynamic learners whose study period changes from time to time or for those who need constant support. Also, because learners can sessions even up to 30 minutes before an actual live tutorial, last-minute schedule adjustments are never a problem.
As there is no need to travel and struggle through road traffic to get to a tuition centre or to meet a tutor in-person, live online tuition offers the most convenience out of all types of tutorial services. Everything is conducted in a virtual environment that mimics an actual classroom but in the comfort of one’s own home, and because of this, parents can simply look over their shoulders to monitor tutorials, or sit side-by-side his or her child to supervise learning behaviour and keep track of their child’s progress.
Value for money
Since the emergence of many online tuition websites, prices for live online tutorials have become competitive and in fact do not greatly differ from the cost of group or private tuition. Tuition centres still offer the cheapest rates when it comes to tuition services, yet the ease of access and convenience is very much limited. Nowadays, tuition centres average at about S$30- S$50 per hour for primary school. At S$30- S$100, private tuition can cost just as much or a bit higher since rates usually vary according to the tutor’s credentials. Live online tuition rates are just as affordable, starting at S$30 per hour and reaching up to . And with free trials offered by most websites to first-time users, there is a chance to try things out before committing to a financial decision.
Which live online tuition sites are available for Math specifically?
Tutopiya is a live online tutoring platform launched in 2018. It provides a huge range of tutorial services in the form of many subjects, from Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Business Management hence it seems to be mainly catering to students preparing for O levels, A levels and Diplomas. Tuition rates range from S$15 to S$45 per lesson.
Teach-n-learn is another online tuition site that provides subjects from English to Science, Chinese and Math. Depending on the tutor, sessions at Teach-n-learn can cost anywhere from S$20 to S$50.
Cudy is another online tuition provider that does not own a pool of tutors but merely connects them to students. Rates starts from S$20 an hour depending on the tutor.
At iMath.sg, we focus solely on the expertise and subject of Mathematics only. We do not provide any other subjects as we want to be the best provider for Math online tuition and tutorial services, especially in Singapore Math. We vet and curate our tutors before approving them on our platform. Rates start from S$15 per 30 min/lesson. We also have a community wall that parents and students can post questions on where we will have tutors and volunteers participating and answering questions.
Live Online Tuition Provider
Cost per hour
Free Questions and Answering Community
S$15 - S$45
S$20 to S$50
Starts at S$20
Starts from S$15
With so many tuition options out there—from group tutorials in tuition centres to individual tutoring through private tutorials—there is no doubt that the choices are endless. Add to that the offerings of the online marketplace, and a parent may easily risk choosing the wrong tuition style for his child just because of an uninformed decision, especially when it comes to math tutoring.
With math tutorial, a parent can’t afford to be unsure or go wrong as math is still rated as the number one subjectwherein Singapore students need tutorial assistance. With 73.5% of families with primary school children having math tuition, and 65.7% of households with children in secondary school having some form of tuition in the same subject, math is a highly challenging subject that students need to overcome in order to advance in Singapore’s competitive educational system. That is why iMath has come up with the brilliant and practical solution of focusing solely on math to assist students with the help of an online community of math tutors and enthusiasts whose passion and expertise is devoted solely to mathematics.
iMath zooms in on math and all things math-related by using digital technology to help learners pursue scholastic excellence in the subject, while still providing on-demand help at a low cost and at each student’s convenience. That is why out of the many options out there when it comes to live online tuition and math help for your child, iMath is easily the best choice to make. To learn more, download the iMath app on your mobile phone or check out this website, and find out how iMath can help with your child’s skills, performance, and confidence in math—with just a click away, right at the comfort of your own home.
This post was written by Louise Adrianne Lopez.