Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Online Tutor Ideal Virtual Business

The success of the two giants in the tutoring industry --Kumon and Sylvan -- attest to the demand for after-school teaching skills. 
Clients of the two primary tutor franchises seek assistance for their children for a variety of reasons.  For some, it is to enable their child to keep pace with classmates.  For others, it is to ensure that their child is best equipped for advanced education.  In several instances, these parents are opting for private schools for their children in the middle and high school years, rather than throughout the child’s entire school life.  Others are looking to explore and stimulate specific skills and interests of the child, to provide that child with a stimulating learning environment.
The Kumon and Sylvan tutoring programs, though, place the urban client at a distinct advantage over rural students. Whether the rural student requires remedial tutoring or specific, focused one-on-one mentoring, distance becomes problematic.  In essence, rural students do not have access to the quality of extra-curricular training that is available to urban students.
That disadvantage is an opportunity, however, for rural educators and advanced students.
Most jurisdictions, from states to provinces in North America, have specific licence requirements and certification processes for teachers and special education instructors.  In spite of that requirement, an apparent gap exists in the licensing process that allows online tutors to be exempt from those criteria, in most areas.  That means that anyone can become a tutor!
Recognizing the dearth of one-on-one personal education support for rural youth, a creative rural entrepreneur could easily set up an online mentoring program that allows youth in need to tap into the resource at the click of a mouse or touch of a pad. While, ideally, the tutors employed in this system should be teachers and education students in a university program, the opportunity is available for retired teachers, top-achieving students and even laypersons with specific skills and knowledge.
The program could allow for video conferencing, text interaction, self-guided training and teaching regimens and email interaction with the student.  By setting specific times each day, the mentor can work with a range of students throughout his available free time, and the student can pick and choose the most appropriate time in which to engage with the instructor.  This makes for a very personalized approach, and an actual advantage over bricks-and-mortar institutions.
The online tutoring business can offer limited curriculum and subjects, or a broad range, utilizing the talents of educators that are available world-wide, instead of in a specific geographic area, as is required for conventional tutoring businesses.
The degree of flexibility that an online tutoring program offers is significant.  Clients can be recruited face-to-face, locally, regionally, or across the country, continent and globe.  This opens up a wider range of open time slots, greater student base and greater pool of qualified educators.  Yet, it can be established, simply and inexpensively, in the basement of a rural business person in any part of the world. 
Online tutoring offers a real competitive edge over conventional tutor programs, at a fraction of the cost of conventional programming.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Live Work and Travel the Pioneer Way

While rural communities struggle to drum up interest in tourism to their regions with festivals and fairs, museums and local icons, the big-money tourists are flocking to rural towns and municipalities to experience an authentic western, First Nations, pioneer or eco-experience.
The disconnect seems to be caused because rural residents are reluctant to believe that someone might be interested in what those residents se as an everyday experience.  If that were true, no resident of Hawaii, Paris, Mexico or Wyoming would ever recognize the value of sandy beaches, the cafes  along the Seine, the arid air, or Old Faithful.
Much of what we in rural North America is precisely how we live and who we are.  It is not just the Americans who are intrigued by history.  Since the days when the wild west was being opened up, Europeans have been fascinated with everything about that rustic environment, snapping up the dime novels that glorified commonplace tramps and hoodlums of the west.  That interest has not waned, but, instead, has burgeoned, growing to include China’s and even the North American eastern cities’ interest in participating in an authentic western experience.
The pioneer encounter is an extension of that fascination with our ancestors of the west.  While we who live every day in that milieu generally are disinterested in such out-dated modes of living, those that have never been part of its routines cannot get enough of the romance of the era.  German and Slavic tourists form the bulk of that influx of visitors.  No doubt, Kenyans are mildly amused at our own interest in their everyday pests, such as lions, or nuisance wildlife such as the wildebeest.
What others see as intriguing often baffles locals.  Yet, it is these idiosyncratic events and experiences that provide a glimpse into a world that others, from other regions and countries, find as a counterpoint to their own lives.
So where does that leave rural communities, who invest heavily, in terms of volunteer labour and money, in museums and community fairs that often are duplicates of the museum down the road?
Those museums and festivals may actually offer the jumping off point for your thrust into the activities that are more in demand by paying customers.  The “Live, Work & Travel The Pioneer Way” program integrates those existing venues and events into a more holistic experience.
Local people who have access to old buckboards, wagons, sleighs, York boats, vintage cars and so on should be digging them out of the tall grass in the field, refurbishing them, and offering rides to visitors.  Museum organizers should look to reconstructing and repairing old sod shanties, log cabins, tepees, and Dirty 30s clapboard homes, so that tourists can visit or spend a night in an authentic pioneer or First Nations dwelling.  Empty former blacksmith shops, Bombardier snow planes, fixed-position threshing machines and old fishing boats should be restored, and tourists invited to take part in a day of work with those that know the routines.  First Nations should be spending days in the field, showing interested visitors how to harvest from the wild, and have them experience the 1800s way of life.
Involve your potential tourist in your life, and discover the enthusiasm with which they embrace an experience that is unique to them, pedantic to you.  Work with adjacent communities, expand your programs, and turn farm life into a financial windfall.