Curious about the tech? Take a look here!

What platforms do you use for calls, and why?

As of March 2024, I utilise a combination of Zoom and Google Meet. I have found that Google Meet works beautifully for students on lower end devices, like Chromebooks, whereas Zoom have more accessibility features for students in need of these.

What technology do we require?

Despite what your child may say about needing the latest and greatest in tech, you actually don’t need a lot to engage! In 2023, I begun offering Google Meet as a standard offering. Consequently, to use this, your child just needs a device that can access Google Meet. This is any computer with an up to date version of Chrome (Chromebooks, Windows 10/11, macOS), a functioning webcam and microphone, and good speakers. Please note that school Chromebooks may be locked down and prevent use for external tuition. You must also have suitable broadband.

Do you have any IT top tips for a successful lesson?

Consider your broadband thoroughly. If your broadband may struggle with a virtual session and concurrent streaming, you may want to consider a family timetable of reduced online activity during tuition sessions.

For lighting and environment, a place to sit where your child is not backlit is very helpful (e.g. if your child is sat with a bright window behind them, the camera will focus on the lighting, and your child becomes silhouette-like!). A reasonable sized desk where they can have their computer, paper for workings, and an exercise book is extremely useful.

Ask your child to join every lesson 20 minutes early. Even if they log in and then leave the computer while they do something else, joining early means any issues with the webcam, microphone, software, updates or anything else can be resolved before the scheduled start time.

If you have parental controls, check these will not interfere; Zoom may sometimes try to connect peer-to-peer (direct connection between computers, instead of a middle-man server), and parental controls have been known to cause issues. You may want to consider disabling these during tuition sessions.

I’m looking to invest in IT resources for tuition. What could you suggest?

A stable broadband connection is essential; consider whether your package with your provider will be suitable. If your child’s device is far from your router, consider Powerline extenders, or a “mesh” WiFi system like Orbi.

Particularly in the younger years, a home printer is phenomenally useful. This enables me to follow your childs needs on a lesson by lesson basis and ensure they have access to the appropriate resources.

If your background may be noisy, a good pair of headphones with a mic are worth considering. Many phone manufacturers include a free pair in handset boxes; alternatively, wired earbuds are sold from the likes of WH Smiths for £15, and good wireless headphones can be bought for £30 in Argos.

Particularly at GCSE, a good tablet cannot be understated. Your child will be able to complete all of their homework from me paperlessly through a compatible tablet, and they will be able to use the tools of their tablet to stay organised with school work. In my years of experience, no tablet has ever been able to compete with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S line of tablets. I have used an S6 Lite and an S9 FE Plus, both as successfully as the other. The included S Pen, Samsung Notes, full browser and compatibility with Office make them all around phenomonal study tools.

At all ages, a large screen for your child to be able to read shared content is essential. You may want to consider a desktop computer, or an external monitor of a sensible size. 

If you’re considering a new computer, I recommend a Mac. Macs are known to last, and ‘go wrong’ significantly less than their Windows counterparts. As of my research in March 2024, a 2007 iMac is still capable of using the latest version of Zoom to access meetings.

I, or another household adult, enjoy tinkering with IT. Are we allowed to tinker with the IT for tuition?

Absolutely! Especially amid the current cost of living crisis, tinkering with old devices can be a great way to extend their lifespan. Particularly for some of my students with behavioural needs and disabilities, tinkering with the IT can be massively beneficial for their engagement with tuition services. You are absolutely welcome to tinker on your system for anything tuition-related, as long as this doesn’t violate any copyright laws or change anything on my system. If you have any suggestions, requests or adaptations you’d like me to make as part of your tinkering (e.g. homework in a different format), please let me know and I will do my best to accommodate this!

How does Google Meet work?

Upon enrolment, your child will be allocated a ten letter code. This may look like abc-defg-hij. Every lesson, your child will click the “Join a lesson” button on my website, select Google Meet and enter that code. They can do this as early as they like. Entering this code sends you to a “waiting room”. At the start time of your child’s lesson, I will begin the meeting, enable recording, then admit them from the waiting room. 

How does Zoom work?

Upon enrolment, your child is allocated a numerical code. Every lesson, your child will click the “Join a lesson” on my website, select Zoom and enter that code. They can do this as early as they like. Entering this code sends you to a “waiting room”. At the start time of your child’s lesson, I will begin the meeting, enable recording, then admit them from the waiting room. 

Can we choose which platform we use?

Absolutely! Upon the initial enrolment, I will review the details of your IT provision and make a recommendation for a platform. For students on higher-end laptops, I may recommend Zoom, and for Chromebooks I may recommend Google Meet. However, this is just a recommendation – if you have privacy concerns, or are IT fluent, you are welcome to choose.

What technology do you use?

For a mobile phone, I use an iPhone 12. For a computer, I use a 13″ MacBook Pro and a home docking station paired with a Thustand document camera as a webcam, alongside JBL 510BT headphones. I also utilise a Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus for all sessions.