Advice for Academic Help Instructors: Set a Topic for Discussion, Set a Schedule, Charge by the Week
Learning in a virtual classroom is an anytime, anywhere proposition. It’s true. There are no boundaries. Anyone in the world can join your course. That doesn’t mean you need to lead a discussion group on thermodynamics or fluid mechanics at 3AM for a global audience of high school physics students.
Do you know what a stressed-out student needs in the two weeks before their exams? Help. They need someone to support their reviewing process and answer questions they may have missed during a lecture.
Do you know what they don’t need? A course taught at 3 o’clock in the morning. Often, by leaving online instruction too open, instructors accidentally cause their students more stress. They don’t need too many options to consider or to manage a new relationship with an instructor they don’t know.
A lot of instructors who support secondary school students make the mistake of leaving their meeting times and topics open. They sketch out the most general overviews of what they can teach and leave it for students to contact them. As a result, students are left without enough information to figure out if the instructor and their expertise is right for them.
Here is an alternative model that makes life easier for everyone.
If you are an experienced instructor, then you know when mid-term tests and final exams are written in your state, province, or country. Three or four weeks before the start of test or exam season, create a tutorial course and a schedule.
Let’s use secondary school physics as an example. You know what is on the grade 12 physics curriculum and what topics are most likely to be on the test or exam. This example is from the provincial physics curriculum of Ontario, Canada where the course is divided into 5 parts or units:
=> Energy and Society
=> Waves and Sound
=> Electricity and Magnetism
Like most independent instructors, you have several different jobs for different employers, but you know you are free to teach on Monday and Wednesday evenings from 7:30 to 9:00. So, when you add a review course in Grade 12 physics, the kinematics unit review, you will schedule it two weeks from now on a Monday evening from 7:30 to 9PM.
When you plan the lesson. You should introduce the topic, key concepts, and formulae. Then, plan an exercise activity related to the key concepts to use the formulae. Then, you can open up the Edusity virtual classroom to questions.
You can repeat the process for the remaining 4 units in the physics curriculum as separate events and schedule them for Monday and Wednesday evenings.
Set a price for each student. For a 90-minute class like this, you might charge $9 or $10 per student and expect to get between 4 and 6 students to register if you market the class via your own email contacts and social media channels. Just add the link to the course to every post you make and email you send.
If those first 4 to 6 students understand your approach, and learn valuable skills from the session, they will come back for the following units and, even better, tell their friends that the follow-up is about to happen.
When young people are dealing with the stress of upcoming exams, it’s up to instructors to make access to help as easy as possible. Tell them when the event will happen, how it will work on the Edusity platform and how much it will cost. By setting a topic structure, a schedule and price, you are removing worry, uncertainty and time management from the decision making process. That means, your potential students will have three fewer barriers to getting the help they need to be successful.