BY SIMONE KEALY and HANNAH SCHAUDER
The Victorian Government’s decision to place all schooling online in response to the COVID-19 outbreak has led to a surge in online tutoring services.
Recent high school graduates are going back to the classroom, albeit online, to support those completing their high school studies amid the challenging educational climate.
Regional Education Support Network (RESN), a not-for-profit tutoring service for regional VCE and HSC students, is hoping to support students now learning from home.
The service, run by students for students, offers around-the-clock free access to more than 200 tutors and resources for academic and non-academic questions in any subject.
Tutoring and welfare head Jun Kim said the absence of normal school routines will have a particularly strong impact on students in isolated rural communities.
“Students’ obligations to support their family during this time may outweigh any considerations about senior high school education,” Mr Kim said.
“Supporting these students' welfare and striving to maintain that connection to education should be the first priority,” he said.
Year 12 student Ben Lewis said online tutoring services have come at a great time for students struggling to maintain motivation during Zoom-based learning.
‘I find it difficult to be on a Zoom call with over 20 people and my teacher. So by having a personal online tutor, I can be supported directly,’ Mr Lewis said.
‘I think that this situation where the world is being forced to rely on technology is why this type of technology must be developed,’ he said.
‘The challenges that have arisen due to corona(virus) may deter students from being motivated to complete VCE, which is why tutors may be relied upon to act as a source for this motivation.’
A free online program by Student Science Squad was also formed in response to the school shutdowns.
The program supports students in high school and VCE across Australia who are struggling with online learning by providing students with group tutorials via Zoom.
Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Student Science Squad, Betty Zhang, said the decision to create the program was spur of the moment.
“It was just the right thing to do at the right time, given the circumstances [students] were in,” Ms Zhang said.
The program offers Year 7 to 10 Mathematics and Year 9 to 10 Science, and VCE subjects English, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Biology and Chinese.
The program is aiming to expand to more subjects and year levels.
Ms Zhang said the program is free to lower the entry barrier and provide disadvantaged students access to tutoring.
“We think [they] would be impacted more,” Ms Zhang said.
She added the tutoring team consists of volunteers who “take time out of their days” to help sustain the program.
Former Science Squad tutor and first year Monash student Jainil Shah said he enjoyed supporting and assisting students to receive tuition without financial barriers.
“This service has really been great in increasing the access to education,” he said.
Year 12 student Meghan Basarke said free online tutoring is a “great” resource for students struggling with online classes.
She said the switch to online learning has made it more difficult to communicate with teachers, making asking a “simple question” a “long process”.
“You’ve just got to be cooperative and patient because everyone’s in the same boat.”