If I’d tell you that the goal of every tutor is the success of her student you had to agree. The thing is that many tutors artificially hold back their students based on the fear of missing out. Revenue that is.
As you might know, my career in education technology started on the consumer side as an online language tutor (I use the term coach) back in 2008. Skype was fairly new and had not hit the mainstream, Flash-based virtual classrooms were all the rage, and in hindsight, no one had a plan of how to make all this work.
Today Skype is already perceived as dated and new standards like WebRTC are poised to give live online education not only a new boost but finally push it to every desktop or mobile device. But there will be a huge difference between live online lessons in 2008 and those in the years to come.
Yesterday Chegg announced the acquisition of Internships.com for $11 million in cash and stock, an acquisition I had predicted would happen when I came up with three potential acquisition targets in May, shortly before Chegg gobbled up live tutoring platform InstaEDU. OK, I admit that I had InternMatch on my list but I will book this under another Kirstradamus prediction that occurred, anyway.
I know, that from me, a blogger who started as a language coach back in the days. But that’s the point: been there, done that. If you ask me today as a tutor whether you should start a blog I’d say no. No because I know that you don’t want to blog because you want to keep an open diary of your ideas and experiences but because you want to market yourself and your classes.
If the latter is the case do yourself a favor and focus on strategies that will get you to your actual goal of selling lessons more quickly.
Time. The scarcest and most valued resource we have in a society that quickly shifts into an always on, always connected stage of existence. Yet, a growing group of services is trying to get our attention, may it be for just a couple of minutes or even seconds.
Time. The one thing we cannot scale or elongate. Sure, we can try to getup earlier and go later to bed. We can stay connected on our commute, at the dinner table or at the party. But there is still a natural limit. 24 hours are the maximum of time we can allocate.
And every minute you allocate to a task won’t be available for another one. Sure, you can “multitask” and catch up with the latest news via radio while taking a shower, brushing your teeth or having breakfast. But there is only so much you can do in a minute.
Last week I hosted our first EDUKWEST Live event in London with our friends and supporters at Macmillan Digital Education. We put a lot of effort in the preparation of the event and naturally I was thrilled to get such amazing feedback from the audience. If you missed it, don’t worry. Here is the recap and it won’t be the last event we will be hosting this year.
The topic of this inaugural event was tutoring, a booming vertical in the UK. And looking at the latest edtech headlines from across the pond, it also is strong in the States.
Part of the event was dedicated to a short presentation in which I focused on some general thoughts and big trends including the threat Google has become to edtech startups that are too close to Google’s core product: search. The edtech startups I see as mostly endangered are marketplaces and directories.
I’m guilty. Guilty because I contribute to the digital death of languages through blogging and interviewing solely in English. As you might know, English is neither my native language, my mother tongue is German, nor is it the language of the country I currently live in, that would be French.
The decision to publish everything in English wasn’t really a question I had to answer for myself, it was rather corollary. Think about it, when you want to get in front of as many eyeballs as possible and you work a lot with English native speakers it’s hard to justify any choice other than English.
Education Week, one of the leading publications in the education space, announced that it will implement a so called metered paywall to its website. A metered paywall is currently the most widely used model as it still leaves the possibility for parts of the content to be open and accessible to the general public and therefore does not interfere with the concept of social sharing.
The potential flaw with Education Week’s model is that you will need to create a user account to get access to your 10 free articles per month as Frank Catalano points out in the comments.
I came across an interesting study about the value of privacy via The Atlantic. Scott Savage and Donald M. Waldman of the University of Colorado at Boulder found that consumers are willing to pay some money for a mobile application when in return their privacy is respected or they are not forced to consume advertisements. In a post Snowden world always worth a read.
2013 was quite an interesting year in the edtech space. Though still massively overshadowed by MOOC Mania there have been parallel trends that are worth noticing. One of them being the revival of online tutoring.
I will start the new year with a detailed look back on my career for all of my readers who don’t know me from the start. Five years of blogging are a good occasion for that, I’d say. Just so much for now: my journey into education technology started on the user-side as online language tutor. And right from the start we got into the discussion about the perceived value of tutors and therefore the monetary return they could expect.
With more and more tutors entering the global marketplace and software is eating the world, let’s ask ourselves what is the value of a tutor in 2014 and beyond.
On Buzzfeed or Business Insider this post would be titled “10 Leadership Lessons I learned from watching the Godfather”. But as it is a) almost Christmas and b) I am henceforth a bit lazy I’ll give you just one lesson today. And it’s exactly the opposite of what the Godfather would tell you.
In teaching your business is personal. Never ever forget that. People will hire you and stick with you because of who you are as all the rest, the material and content is replaceable. Teaching is very personal which includes the following aspects.
As some of you might already know, I was invited to give short presentation and act as “agent provocateur” at the Languages and Business Forum 2013 in Berlin two weeks ago. I spoke of trends I see happening at the intersection of technology and learning that make an impact on how we learn languages these days and in the near(er) future.
During a chat around the event the discussion came to the point as to why language learning as a business, so both more established companies and startups alike as well as individual tutors, seem to be faced with more problems around making money off of their teaching/service than service providers in other verticals of the learning market tend to experience.
Recently, there have been lots of discussions going on around the monetary part of teaching on the Internet or being an independent tutor in general in the Edupreneurs Club. Being a recovering online coach myself I can absolutely relate to the problem of making a living as an independent educator. Yes, the economics of online tutoring are friggin’ hard.
The thing is this: I think many online tutors do not evaluate their underlying business model or, as one of the Club member put it, wonder if you are carrying buckets or building pipelines. My guess is that many tutors are carrying buckets with no bottom.
The following back of the envelope business plan is of course just one of many scenarios and you should run through this on your own based on what you would like to achieve with your independent tutoring service.
There are currently some interesting discussions going on in the Edupreneurs Club, I herewith put away my chef’s hat to share some of my thoughts.
One main topic is Facebook. Like Google, Facebook constantly changes the algorithm that decides which content will be surfaced in your news stream. In case you did not know, just because you like a certain page or are friends with someone does not mean that you will see all of their content shared or posted.
This often leads to a huge gap between the number of fans total and the number of people who actually see a post. Right now this gap seems to have become wider than ever which made some edupreneurs think whether it was at all worthwhile to invest their time and put the effort in updating their page and trying to grow their fans.
My short answer is no, it isn’t. Here is why.
Art was one of my favorite subjects in school, especially the part where we had to interpret masterpieces and what the artist wanted to tell us through his/her art. Though I won’t call Apple invites artistic masterpieces, I have to admit that it’s quite some fun to decode their message prior to an event.
The latest invite is for the upcoming Apple iPad event on October 22nd. As far as I can tell this is going to be a shot aimed directly at Microsoft.
A fellow edupreneur wanted to know what the pros and cons of joining a MCN (multi channel network) on YouTube would be. Though you might have never heard of MCNs, you have probably watched content from one of the big ones, nevertheless. There is Revision3, Machinima, TasteMade and a handful of others that usually specialize in one or two particular verticals like gaming, food or comedy.
The premise of the big MCNs is to support creators in the creation of video content on the one hand and get better advertising deals and show sponsors on the other. Sounds good, but won’t work in education.
Normally I don’t join the rumor mill before “major” tech events but interpreting art has always fascinated me. Pundits were quick to point out that the colors on the invitation indicated the new line of cheaper iPhone 5Cs. But none of the folks I follow apparently thought about why Apple chose “bubbles” as pattern.
To me it became obvious immediately that the bubbles represent the iPhone’s (and iPad’s) signature home button. And what is so important about it that you need to put it on the invite? The rumored iPhone 5S fingerprint sensor, of course.
The web makes us lazy, at least that’s what you often hear, especially from educators. Students these days wouldn’t research anymore, they just type in a question on Google and take the next best result as answer.
Interestingly, I found that educators are often even lazier than the students they complain about when it comes to discussions on social media. There are tons of threads starting with “How do I …” and I am not talking about complex problems to solve here. You find questions like “How do I sign up for this service?” or “How much do I need to charge for my services?”.
As I get crankier with age I now often advise to visit lmgtfy.com. But why is this phenomenon fostering in the educator scene?
For a couple of weeks there have been rumors about a new Google service based on the Hangouts infrastructure. Called Google Helpouts the service offers live video interaction with experts who can charge the caller through Google Wallet. Google is apparently taking a 20% cut.
This reminds me of a similar service Skype offered back in the days when it still belonged to ebay. Through a so called Skype expert directory educators, trainers and consultants could charge for Skype calls by the minute and then got paid via PayPal which, conveniently, also was (and still is) owned by ebay.
Before I got annoyed with Skype I was annoyed with telephones. Especially after moving to France where cold calls and other forms of telephone marketing really get out of hand. That’s why I decided pretty quickly to unplug my land line phone at least at certain times during the day . A ringing phone is a killer when you are working on a blog post or are in the middle of a Skype interview.
To me those calls are on the same scale of annoyance as people who turn up on your doorstep trying to talk you into buying stuff. They know that they will catch you off guard, making it easier for them to get your attention and hopefully money.