Categories
E-learning

5 Tips to Help You Promote Your Online Lessons

Photo by Joshua Woroniecki on Unsplash

According to an article by TechJury, the e-learning market is projected to be worth $325 billion worldwide by 2025. In the United States alone, this market is estimated to grow by more than $10 billion in the next 4 years. Not only is it good for business growth, e-learning is also proven to be more beneficial to students. A study done by the Research Institute of America concluded that e-learning can improve retention rate by up to 60%; as compared to 8% to 10% in face-to-face teaching. Students of all ages have also expressed their preference toward using digital tools in their learning processes. Looking at these statistics, it’s no wonder that many educators have decided to pivot to electronic teaching this year. That – and, of course, COVID-19.

With more and more companies offering online lessons, have you ever wondered if there is still space for you? If you are already teaching online, do you worry about finding enough students to justify your efforts? How do you stand out from the 50 other instructors teaching the exact same subject on the internet?

Here are 5 tips to help:

1. Position your business appropriately

2. Establish your online presence

3. Use social media to your advantage

4. Share positive testimonials

5. Create promotions and discount bundles

1. Position your business appropriately

Let’s say you’re a French teacher, and plan to offer French lessons online. There could be dozens of other language teachers who have the same idea. How do you promote your services to the students that you really want? And when you’ve reached them, how do you entice them to sign up with you instead of your competitors? All of these require careful thought and planning before you come up with an action plan.

In order to position your business aptly, you’ll need to consider 2 questions: 

1. Who is your ideal customer?

2. What is your unique value proposition?

The purpose of the first question is to help you establish your target audience. Do you want to teach French to children? Or would you prefer adults? What is their education level? Do you only want to work with people who live in a certain area? For educators who also have a learning centre, you may want to focus on people who are located near your school, so you can supplement your online teaching with physical material. Establishing your ideal customer persona can help you achieve a few things:

  • Figuring out how to craft your marketing messages to attract their attention
  • Finding the right places to invest your marketing resources in – for example, if you’re targeting high school students, you may want to focus more on social media platforms like Facebook and TikTok, instead of physical billboards or flyers
  • Fine-tuning your lesson delivery methods (e.g. more colorful graphics for kids) to improve lesson engagement and retention

In terms of unique value propositions, this is where you identify the points that make you stand out. How can you provide more value, or a different kind of value that can benefit your target audience? For adult language courses, maybe you could offer a strong focus on conversational techniques, instead of grammar and composition practices. If you teach math to children under 12, you may share skills and approaches that are not taught in local schools, to help them improve their mathematical prowess.

Knowing your unique value propositions allows you to distinguish yourself from your competition. It answers the question that often pops up in consumers’ minds: “How are you different from (insert names of other teachers here)?” There are educators who differentiate themselves based on price, either by going very low and targeting students with a lower socioeconomic background; or setting a high price and focusing on high end customers. However, although your charges can definitely affect sales, it shouldn’t be your sole focus. Being able to offer the value that consumers want is still key to attracting and retaining students. 

Photo by Martin Engel – Grafiker Hamburg on Unsplash

2. Establish your online presence

Can you imagine the irony of being an online teacher without any kind of presence online? Many Malaysian educators, especially those with a physical education centre, do not feel a need for establishing themselves on the Internet. Thus, most of them still market their lessons with flyers, banners, and word-of-mouth promotion. While these methods are not ineffective, if you really want to grow your business, having an online presence is a must.

Forming an online presence is not just about having a website. In fact, if you’re not looking to invest funds into building and optimising a website, that may be fine, especially in the beginning. You can start by registering an account on popular listing sites, so potential students have a way of finding and contacting you. The reason why listing sites is a better option than a website when you’re starting out is because these platforms are usually well-optimised for search engine rankings, so when consumers search for a specific lesson, they are more likely to come across your offerings. On top of that, well-known listing sites and online marketplaces have already established their authority and leadership within the market. Therefore, when students and/or their guardians see your lessons there, they are more likely to put their trust and confidence in you, even though you may be a new entity to them.

In addition to listing your services online, you should also grow your audience on social media. The best way to do this is to focus on 1 or 2 platforms first, and slowly expand to other avenues. Your initial platforms should be those that your ideal customers frequent, such as Facebook and Instagram for the younger crowd, and Facebook and LinkedIn for working professionals. Instead of posting about your classes and your life, create content that provides value to your followers. For instance, you can share quick tips on how to solve simple problems in the subjects that you teach, dole out advice on effective studying etc. If you want to grow your audience even more quickly, consider working with other teachers to cross promote each other, through guest posting, featuring each other in your respective accounts, and sharing possible bundled promotions for your combined services.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

3. Use social media to your advantage

Social media is a powerful way for you to gain trust and reach more students. However, it can be  a tricky field to navigate. Have you ever wondered why some accounts post regularly and could only garner hundreds of followers; while others, like influencers and key opinion leaders, can rack up millions of followers within a couple of months? It’s not about their looks or the luxurious lifestyle that they enjoy. Instead, it’s about the value that they offer to their followers, be it inspiration, knowledge, humour, or others.

As an educator, the key value that you can offer is knowledge and inspiration. Share content that helps your ideal customers in their studies, and offer little nuggets of wisdom that can motivate or inspire them in life. Make sure that your posts and captions are crafted to suit the tone of your target audience. If your customer persona is a well-educated parent of preschool kids, you will want to develop a clean, matured style that resonates with them. Remember, your ideal customer need not necessarily be the students themselves; it can be their guardians too. This is especially relevant if you’re offering lessons to young children. 

One very useful platform that you should be on right now is Facebook. People of all ages visit Facebook, and while Instagram and TikTok are geared towards entertainment; Facebook has evolved into a platform where both personal and professional content can thrive. Nobody would bat an eye if a post about your latest tuition bundle promotion appears under an engagement photo of their best friend. It’s all just part of Facebook’s vast range of content.

On Facebook, it’s best to set up a Facebook Page for your e-teaching business, instead of a personal profile. You can name the page after the subject that you’re teaching, together with your business name if you have one. This way, if someone searches for the topic related to your classes on Facebook, there is a higher chance that they’ll see and visit your page. Another benefit of having a Facebook Page instead of a profile is that you can add your contact information to it, making it easier for potential customers to get in touch with you. You can also add a scheduling calendar for learners to book appointments, and run ads to promote your services.

After you’ve set up your page, it’s time to build your community. Join Facebook groups that are related to your subject matter, and be an active participant to gain trust. You can also start your own group to provide value and nurture a community of your own. Utilizing Facebook groups not only allows you to forge strong relationships with your target audience; it can also help you position yourself as an authority in the industry that you’re in. 

Photo by Yoav Hornung on Unsplash

4. Share positive testimonials

In August 2017, a peculiar restaurant began rising through the ranks on TripAdvisor. It’s a fine-dining establishment that is designed as a shed, and, instead of serving meals like other eateries, its menu is comprised of moods. The food is created based on different moods, with courses named “Happy,” “Lust,” and “Love,” all of which showcase dishes that the chef thinks represent those feelings. The institution rose to number 1 on TripAdvisor in 6 months, boosted by glowing reviews and lofty page views. People started calling for reservations, and the rejections they received only served to enhance the enigma of this place. The Shed at Dulwich became one of the most sought after and exclusive restaurants in London. The problem with it though? It doesn’t actually exist.

The Shed at Dulwich” is an experiment conducted by freelance writer Oobah Butler, who, before writing for a popular online publication, accepted many freelance gigs on writing fake reviews on TripAdvisor. This led him to wonder if he could actually get away with ranking a non-existential restaurant on the site, just with reviews and fake pictures alone. The experiment was a success, and his dummy restaurant ascended to the number 1 spot on the review site without even having a single customer since its creation.

While this venture was conceived partly to express the writer’s cynicism about online reviews, it no doubt showed the power that reviews can have over a business’s success. We live in a society where social proof is more important than ever, and a positive endorsement can hugely uplift the amount of confidence consumers have over a product. As a service provider, how do you leverage this to your advantage? 

First of all, start asking for reviews from your students or their guardians. For teachers who do not have any e-learning students yet, you can offer a free trial class to a small group in exchange for testimonials. Do not be hesitant to share the endorsement online, be it on your marketplace listings, social media, or website. There’s a reason why people look up ratings and reviews before making any purchases, and, especially since you’re conducting online lessons instead of physical classes, testimonials is an important way to gain trust from students who have yet to know you.

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash

5. Create promotions and discount bundles

Pretty much everyone likes a good deal. If you’re looking to boost sales, offering promotions is a great way to go. For teachers who are just starting to teach online, you can give out free trials to pupils who are interested. Unlike consumer products, online education constitutes a long term relationship between a buyer and a seller. If someone is debating whether or not to spend a few hours a week with you for the next five months, it makes sense that they would want to try out your service first. No student likes to switch classes in the middle of a term, and have to catch up and acclimate to a new course environment all over again. To enable consumers to have some insight on how good of an instructor you are, try giving out something of value for free. It doesn’t have to be a free class; you can post clips of your videos on Instagram, create a mini email course with introductory material, or give out study tips and mock exam questions in the form of an ebook. Anything that can give students a glimpse of your lesson quality will do.

For learning centres that offer a variety of online lessons, you can bundle related subjects into a discounted package. This can entice customers to sign up for the combo, and take multiple classes with you instead of just one. Teachers with only one subject of expertise can partner with other educators to create bundles, or provide discounts for their lessons within a limited time range. When doing this, make sure your audience knows how much they’re saving if they sign up for these promotions. That will encourage them to make the purchase, feeling like they’ve got themselves a good deal. 

Photo by Joshua Woroniecki on Unsplash

Being an educator is not just about teaching; you’ll also need to learn how to manage your education business. Even if you’re a top notch teacher, you will still face difficulties in getting students if you don’t know how to market your services properly. So, besides spending time on crafting quality videos and teaching material, don’t forget to also put some effort into getting your online lessons seen by your target audience. 

Categories
tips

Top 3 Strategies to Overcome Burnout

Strategies to prevent and overcome burnout
Photo by Hernan Sanchez on Unsplash

According to the World Health Organization (W.H.O.), burnout is a syndrome conceptualised as a result of chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion, caused by excessive and prolonged stress. Symptoms of burnout include experiencing overwhelm, feeling emotionally drained, and being unable to meet demands at work.

In the long run, a person who frequently experiences burnout may fall into severe depression or anxiety, and may start demonstrating an inclination towards negativism or cynicism about his/her job. If this describes you, read on to learn about the 3 strategies that you can undertake to overcome this phenomenon.

1. Improve your time management skills

A good rule of thumb that you can follow for managing your time is the Four Quadrants of Time Management, developed by the author of best-selling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey. He encouraged people to divide their tasks into the following 4 quadrants, based on their urgency and importance:

  • Quadrant 1: Important and Urgent 
  • Quadrant 2: Important but Not Urgent
  • Quadrant 3: Not Important but Urgent
  • Quadrant 4: Not Important and Not Urgent

You can refer to the table below for better understanding.

You may think that most of your time should be focused on the tasks in Quadrant 1, since they are both important and urgent. However, the most significant quadrant in the long run is actually number 2: important but not urgent. Why is that so?

The reason why quadrant 2 is the most crucial of all is because it contains assignments that are mostly related with planning, improvement, and prevention; which are all duties that – should they be performed well – will lead to a smaller workload in quadrant 1. While focusing on the emergencies in quadrant 1 is obviously important, more of your energy should be devoted to avoiding having to put tasks into this category to begin with. Spending a big chunk of your time putting out fires every day will put you in constant fight-or-flight mode, which is a key contributor to stress and burnout.

2. Communicate, communicate, communicate

Why do people experience burnout

On top of time management, another huge reason why a person can be affected by burnout is lack of communication. Especially in a professional setting, it’s not unusual to see people bottling up their frustrations, for fear of jeopardising relationships with their colleagues. However, keeping everything in is just like creating a time bomb that’s waiting to go off. So, while we don’t suggest throwing a fit whenever you feel angsty, we do recommend facilitating honest communication at work. Now how do you do that?

First of all, forge friendly relationships in the workplace. Even if you’re a self-proclaimed loner, or just don’t feel like you fit in, it’s still beneficial to make a few friends. Scientific studies have shown that social isolation is one of the biggest risk factors for the decline of physical and mental health, so make the best of your time at work, and connect regularly with your co-workers. If you find it hard to initiate a relationship, you can always start small, maybe by giving them a friendly smile whenever they walk by, asking about their day, or discussing weekend plans with them. A little goes a long way, and while you may not realise it, these social interactions can help you ease up if you feel stressed at work.

For employees who feel overburdened by their workload, it’s time to have an open discussion with your manager. Make sure that you are able to separate work time from personal time. Work life balance is not just a catchy phrase that gets thrown around by entitled millennials; setting clear boundaries between your professional and personal schedules is actually crucial for your well-being. If you feel like the tasks delegated to you are too overwhelming, and/or the amount of effort you spent on work is not adequately reflected in your paycheck, arrange for a performance review and provide honest feedback about your thoughts. At times, your manager may not be aware of everything that is going on within the company, and it is your duty as an employee to speak up if you feel unfairly treated. Don’t be afraid to stand up for your own rights.

In addition to communicating in the workplace, open up to your personal connections as well. A part of being human is that at certain points in our lives, we will experience downfalls or get tangled up in conflict. When you feel upset, talk it over with someone that you trust. Sometimes you may feel alone in this world, especially in our social media-obsessed society where everyone is fervently showing off the highlight reel of their lives. However, please be assured that you are never totally alone. Everyone has their own inner battles that they are fighting; maybe they’re just better at hiding it. Allow yourself to open up to a confidante. For all you know, he/she has been through the same issues that you’re struggling with now, and may be able to give you sound advice to overcome your challenges. If you feel like you really don’t have anyone to talk to, consider contacting a therapist or the BeFrienders. The most important thing is to never give up.

3. Live a healthy lifestyle

Growing up, we have all heard the doctor’s recommendation of 30 minutes of exercise per day, for at least three days a week. This can include going for a jog, a session at the gym, or maybe a quick match of badminton with friends. While it’s easy to overlook this tip when work gets busy, it’s important to note that these atomic habits will ultimately lead to a healthier body, thereby elevating your mental well-being. Studies have shown that regular exercise can uplift your mood, and reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. This is because physical movement increases the brain’s sensitivity toward the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine, which relieve feelings of depression and produce higher levels of endorphins, also known as the “happy hormone.” 

A healthy lifestyle does not just consist of regular workouts; it’s also dependent on food. As the saying goes: you are what you eat. Besides exercising routinely, another part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is to watch what you consume on a daily basis. Avoid greasy foods and sugary drinks; instead, opt for healthier alternatives like whole grains and protein-rich meals. You’ll be surprised at how much a well-balanced diet can affect your mood for the better. By having the right combination of exercise and a healthy diet, your body and your mind will thank you in the years to come.

It’s normal to feel stressed at times, and we can never be totally immune to low moods. Whenever you start experiencing anxiety and/or dread when thinking about work, try incorporating these 3 strategies – improve time management skills, communicate openly, and develop healthy lifestyle choices – in your daily life. You may be amazed at how you feel after a period of practicing these habits!

Categories
tips

Leaving a Legacy After School

(File pix) Based on the Philosophy of Teacher Education and Preliminary Report of Malaysia Education Blueprint (2013-2025), the Teacher Education Division  continuously boosts teachers’ abilities through its curriculum changes.  Pix by Syarafiq Abd Samad
Picture credits: Yarafiq Abd Samad

We were all students once. While many of us reminisce about our days in school every now and then, we can’t always put a name to the teachers that we’ve encountered. Who was your history teacher in Form 2? Do you remember? If so, why? 

We all know a few educators that stand out vividly in our memories, some of whom we may even still keep in touch with years after graduation. Have you ever wondered why that is so? What is so special about them, that we can’t seem to forget how they looked or spoke or walked, while the recollection of other instructors fade into a foggy echo? According to Coach Mohd Noor from CMN Academy, it’s because the memorable teachers don’t only teach, they focus on leaving a legacy.

Coach Mohd Noor Mohd Tahir is a coach for Malaysian educators, and owns numerous successful tuition centres spread across the country. He is the creator of the “Tutor Beyond Expectation” and “Success Tutorpreneur Mentorship (STM)” programs, which help tutors and entrepreneurs in the education industry operate their businesses in a systematic and professional way. Together with CMN Education Group, Coach Mohd Noor has mentored more than 2000 “edupreneurs” throughout Malaysia to achieve business success. During a Facebook live session in August with him and Coach Baahir from AMPAC Penang, the topic of memorable instructors came up. According to Coach Mohd Noor, there are 3 reasons why certain educators leave a deeper impression in their students’ minds. These are: content, context, and character. He calls them the 3Cs that define an educator’s legacy.

The First C: Content

We attend classes to learn. As a student, do you like having an idea of what you’ll be learning throughout a course term; or would you rather attend lessons without knowing what will happen? Most students we know prefer having the outline of their syllabus, and also a preview of what they can expect throughout their learning period. With this in mind, teachers can provide students with a lesson framework for the semester or year during the first lesson. This allows students (and perhaps their parents as well) to know what to expect for upcoming lessons. On top of that, they will also know what they will miss out on if they do not attend classes, which allows them to plan vacations and important events more strategically. 

In addition to sharing a lesson framework, teachers can also think outside the box, and furbish students with trial papers from other schools, or even other countries. A quick Google search will reveal analytics of public examinations in the past, as well as topics that should be emphasised in school and extra-curricular lessons. Teachers can use this information to add value to their lessons, by giving students tips and tricks to answer questions effectively and do well in exams. Always think about how you can give more to your students, instead of just sticking to content from textbooks. You may not realize this, but students do know when their teachers are going the extra mile. When your students feel like they’ve gained a lot from your lessons, they will remember you more fondly.

The Second C: Context

Context is where educators apply their creativity in delivering teaching material to their students. Whether it’s a funny way to memorise a certain formula, or a reenactment of historical events during a history class; there are countless ways to leave an impression in your students’ minds. How about conducting friendly competitions and interactive quizzes every now and then? Activities that can pump up students’ excitement and challenge them in a healthy way will help them learn more effectively, and help them think back on your classes with a smile as well. As quoted by John Holt, “Learning is not the product of teaching. Learning is the product of the activity of learners.”

Another aspect of context is the “why.” As a teacher, I’m sure you have heard this more than once: “Teacher, why do I need to learn this? It is not like I will use this at all.” I still remember all the times I was slumped across my desk, almost in tears over my Biology textbook, trying to memorise the 10 steps of glycolysis and the byproducts of the Krebs cycle. “Why do I even need to know this?” I used to think, “Who cares about ATP?” (Note: Almost everybody in science cares about ATP. Yes, I realise that now). But back then, nobody told me how important energy generation is for the human body. I was only told to commit all of these information into memory. It wasn’t until years later, when I came across these dreaded processes again in my nutritional studies, did I realise how essential they are for our bodies to function properly. That made me look at these cycles in a different way, and I found it much easier to absorb the learning material then. 

The Third C: Character

How do you want to be known as? Are you the loving type of teacher, or are you the formidable instructor who always carries a cane in your hand? Will you reward your class if they do well in a test?

I still remember one of my teachers in high school who bought Vitamin C tablets out of her own pocket for the whole class during exam periods. Together with this, she would also advise us to always prioritise our health. Back then, 16 year-old me had never experienced such warmth and care from an educator before, and this left a lasting impression in my mind. I will never forget this teacher.

As an educator, sometimes you might forget that all eyes are on you when you are standing at the front of a classroom. What this means is that your character, as well as how you act, will be an example to all the future leaders of the world. Take this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a role model for all your “children.”

“Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.” ~ Albert Einstein

No student is going to remember everything that is taught by their teachers. What will continue to remain a legacy is the teacher him/herself. I am fortunate enough to have been taught by a group of passionate teachers throughout my schooling era, and I’m proud to say that I have become a better person because of them.

So, teachers, if you’re reading this, the question you need to ask yourself is: How do you want to be remembered by your students? Or do you not want to be remembered at all?