Many online tutoring companies boast advanced technological tools. The five most common tutoring tools are shared whiteboard space, audio and text chat, file sharing, video conferencing, and editor tools. But what can these tools actually do to facilitate better learning? Each tool has distinct advantages and can greatly aid the learning process in online tutoring. Shared Whiteboard Space: Students and tutors can share a virtual whiteboard in real time. Students can draw figures, write equations, type comments, and circle areas of concern. Many whiteboards allow participants to upload documents so tutors or students can make annotations directly on the image. In addition, participants can choose different backgrounds such as lined or grid paper. Students can watch their instructor solve problems or vice versa. Many companies allow students to video chat with tutors while sharing a whiteboard. Often, students can save whiteboards for future reference. TutorMe offers a demo of their whiteboard lesson space here. Audio and Text Chat: Companies like eTutorWorld employ both voice and text chat. They, along with other companies, use VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) to allow students and tutors to communicate. This service accesses a computer’s microphone so students can speak directly with their tutors. Some companies also allow tutors and students to speak over the phone. In addition to audio chat, text chat allows students to share questions and concerns with their tutor live. Often the text chat feature is presented as a sidebar to a shared whiteboard. File Sharing: Students working on papers or complex math problems may want to share their work with their hired tutor. File sharing often works as a feature of virtual whiteboards. Uploaded files are visible to students and tutors, making it easier to communicate and discuss work. Students can upload a variety of file types, for example Tutor.com allows students to upload documents in the following formats: .DOC, .DOCX, .PDF, .PPT, .TXT, and .XLS. Video Conferencing: Many tutoring services do not offer in-person sessions. Video conferencing allows students to see and talk to their tutors, providing the best alternative to in-person communication. Video conferencing operates like Skype or Google Hangouts. Students may see and hear their tutors. This often works in conjunction with shared whiteboard space. Both parties may see the same image and discuss the student’s work. Editor Tools: Companies like Wyzant offer a variety of editor tools, such as text, code, and equation editors. These editors allow students and tutors to collaborate on projects and to simultaneously edit the same piece of work. Students can write papers directly in the text editor feature and get instant feedback. Not every online tutoring company offers all five of these tools. Be sure to do your research to know which company will work the best for you. Check out our top rated tutoring companies here.