Let's talk about online messaging mixups.
Wyzant recently started taking steps to feature online tutoring more prominently in our Marketplace. You can read our CEO’s blog post if you’d like to get more information. With growth comes change, and change can be confusing. If you’re approved to use the Wyzant online tool for your tutoring services, you might be unsure why you’ve received requests from a student who wanted in-person lessons, but mistakenly (or unknowingly) requested the lesson to be conducted online.
We’ve learned from both students and tutors that this can turn into a negative experience for one or both parties involved. But there’s good news: this mixup has also resulted in a lot of lessons! When a student messages you and isn’t initially interested in online lessons, you may still be able to help them and in turn grow your business. Let us show you how.
How does it happen?
If a student accidentally reaches out to a tutor offering online tutoring, it’s commonly the result of one of three reasons:
Online by default
When a student performs a search, they’re asked for information that will help refine their request - specifics like subject, availability, goals, and grade level. Since the Wyzant search results for tutors defaults to tutors who offer online tutoring for high school-level and above, students are presented with a list of online tutors who fit the criteria of their search.
Included in search results is an option to specify “In-Person” lessons (you can find it in the left navigation of the Wyzant desktop site, and under the “Local” tab in the Wyzant app). Students may not notice this detail and assume that they are seeing only in-person tutor options, and reach out accordingly.
Online by necessity
If a student performs a search for a tutor offering in-person tutoring and there are few or no tutors in their area who match their search criteria, they’re presented with the banner below:
A list of online tutors who meet the student’s search criteria will be listed below the banner.
Sometimes students will mistakenly message tutors whose profiles appear below this banner, but these students aren’t necessarily actively seeking online lessons.
Students are able to opt in and out of a feature called “Share My Requests,” which uses the criteria of a student’s search to generate a post to the Wyzant Jobs board. Since it’s a default feature - students must opt-out via their dashboard - if a student mistakenly specifies they wish to have their tutoring conducted online, their request will be shared to the online Jobs board.
What can tutors do?
Address the student’s needs
When a student reaches out for in-person help, but the student is not local to you, keep in mind that your profile may have been viewed primarily because there is a lack of in-person tutors in their area. This is especially true if the student is located in a rural or remote area, or is asking for help in a specialized subject for which there are not many tutors listed on Wyzant who specialize in the area.
It’s easy to respond to these requests with suspicion, or even frustration. However, remember that the student is actively seeking help and liked your profile! A mistaken online request from a student can be an unexpected opportunity for your tutoring business.
Understand concerns about online lessons
Students are often reluctant to try online tutoring because of misconceptions regarding how those lessons actually work. The most common misunderstandings, according to our own research, are:
- “It’s not one-on-one.”
- Universities and colleges often offer online courses in which one professor works with many students, posting resources and questions on a message board or shared folder. Students with experience taking these sorts of classes often assume online lessons using the Wyzant online tool will work the same way.
- “It’s not face-to-face.”
- Without having seen the online tool, some students have a hard time imagining how an online lesson will work. They often think a lesson would occur via email correspondence, or the “Messages” page, meaning they won’t be able to get answers, express themselves, and work with tutors in real time. They also feel they won’t be able to experience that person-to-person connection.
- “It’s just another pre-recorded tutorial video.”
- You can find tutorial videos on how to do everything from tying your shoes, to how to beat a high level on an unpopular video game from 30 years ago. While these videos can be helpful, students reaching out for tutoring are looking for more than a video. Lessons using the online tool are not pre-recorded, giving students the ability to ask questions, find guidance, and interact with their tutor in the same ways as in-person lessons.
- “It won’t be as effective as in-person tutoring.”
- If a student is unfamiliar with online tutoring, they’ll often avoid seeking online help as they feel it won’t provide them with the face to face, one to one, personalized help they need.
- “It costs more than in-person tutoring.”
- As students learn about the Wyzant online tool, and its features, some come to the conclusion that access to powerful platform has to cost extra, and it’s common that they assume they will have to pay a subscription or an extra fee each lesson to use the tool, and focus on in person to avoid an extra cost.
We are hard at work to address these misconceptions while improving the online tool, in order to help both tutors and their students maximize their lessons. For some, seeing is believing, and many students just aren’t comfortable with online lessons until they’ve had a chance to experience it themselves.
Past reviews, testimonials, and feedback from students illustrate that many users who expressed disinterest in online lessons ended up loving them, all thanks to a positive first experience with their online tutor.
“At first, I was very hesitant to use the online tutor system and only used Wyzant for in-person tutoring. However, after using the online practice sessions allowed by Wyzant, I discovered this online system to be quite remarkable. I was thrilled to see this, as my tutor search results for online tutors went through the roof, offering way more variety of teachers. I feel this enabled me to really pick an amazing teacher out of the 229 results I had to choose from! Thank you Wyzant!” - Daniel, Wyzant Student
Offer to connect via an online demo
Students often want to speak directly with a tutor before they move forward with scheduling sessions. It’s normal! This is their chance to break the ice, get know you better, and have a more in-depth conversation about their goals.
This is also the perfect time to offer a student a free demo of the Wyzant online tool.
You can send a link to join an online lesson demo with just a few clicks. Directly from your “Messages” page, click on the blue computer icon:
This will send a link to your student, inviting them to an online room where you can discuss details and availability, all while illustrating the ease and convenience of meeting through the online tool.
Help students prepare
Here are some top tips for preparing for an online lesson that can help your student - and maybe you! - feel ready when a session starts:
- Find a quiet place with no distractions
- Make sure you’re on a desktop or laptop computer
- Use Google Chrome for the best experience
- Test your audio and video before the lesson
- Wear headphones to reduce outside noise and prevent echoes
Get ready for the unexpected
Sometimes things simply go wrong. Even when everyone is prepared, technical hiccups can pop up and, just like real hiccups, if they aren’t addressed quickly, can be frustrating. Familiarize yourself with the following troubleshooting steps to help ease students into the new online environment and begin building a trusting, productive relationship:
- Update your browser: The first and most important tip because it addresses such a wide range of issues! Having the most up-to-date version of your browser is crucial to ensure that the online tool runs smoothly.
- Restart your browser: Restarting your browser often helps to address issues affecting your online lesson. You’ll want to make sure your browser is completely shut down before you restart it.
- Check out the Help Center: You can view the section containing information about online tutoring by clicking here. Having these articles handy will put the answers to common questions right at your fingertips.
- Reach out to us: We are always glad to help! If something isn’t working the way you believe it should, encourage your student to contact us, or reach out yourself. Here’s how you can get in touch.