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Wyzant Insights - Term 2, 2020

As we enter the summer term, we’re dealing with a different reality than a typical summer of tutoring.

COVID continues to have a tremendous effect on the way we live our lives, and it’s changed tutoring and education, as well. Our CEO, Andrew Geant, recently wrote an article on LinkedIn exploring the changing role of online tutoring, and trends we’re noticing that we’d like to share with the tutor community. Here’s an excerpt:

An excerpt from Andrew Geant's article that reads Year over Year Tutoring Growth and illustrates 158 percent growth from March 8th to May 3 2020

We want to hear from you!

In the era of school closures and lockdowns, we’ve all had to rapidly adjust to a more virtual life. Tutoring is no exception. How are you making sure your students still get the help they need?

Product updates

In the past few months, we have released some important updates for tutors. We hope these updates help you reach more students and provide an even better tutoring experience.

Tutoring jobs

Last month we updated the tutoring jobs experience. As part of that update, we circulated a survey to gather feedback on how the tutor community feels about the changes, and tutoring jobs on Wyzant tutoring at-large.

The survey closed last week with 370 tutor responses! An enormous thanks to all the tutors who responded! We’ll discuss the “Recommended Rate” topic in this edition of Insights, but there was lots of great feedback that we’ll cover in future communications.

Not surprisingly, this was the most popular topic in your survey feedback.

Some tutors were happy to see the new feature…

Three tutor survey responses that describe tutors who are excited about recommended rates

…And others expressed concern: where does the Recommended Rate come from? How is it used? Here are some verbatim examples that highlight the three main themes:

Three tutor survey responses that describe tutors who are skeptical about recommended rates having an impact on their business

To clarify how the new Recommended Rate functionality works, it’s helpful to first note that this feature doesn’t alter how the tutor or student experiences function.

Specifically:

1) Wyzant does not ask students for rate information. This data is based on a student’s behavior on our site. We know what tutors a student has contacted, and the hourly rate of those tutors. This data is nothing new - the student contacting a $15/hr Organic Chemistry tutor was doing that before this update. The sole difference is now we’ve made this information available to tutors by surfacing a “Recommended Rate”.

The Recommended Rate is meant to function as a guideline for tutors to assess potential students’ fit before applying to their jobs. You will never be penalized for not adjusting your rate. How you choose to use the Recommended Rate information is at your discretion.

On a related note, some tutors have rightfully wondered if the recommended rates shown are connected to a test Wyzant ran in May. In this test, we asked prospective students about their budget when they went to exit Wyzant without contacting a tutor. The goal was to see if Wyzant could encourage them to search for a tutor by using available price filters, instead of leaving the site. Though they address different parts of the same topic, this test was not tied to the launch of Recommended Rate.

2) Recommended Rates differ by student and by request. Wyzant is not using an algorithm or setting Recommended Rates on a per-subject basis. Since the rate is specific to the student and their behavior on our site, tutors will see a wide variety of Recommended Rates within and across subjects.

3) Tutors still set their own hourly rates. The Recommended Rate is meant to be a reference point for tutors when deciding what jobs to apply to, and what rate to use for a specific application. We are not overriding default rates set by tutors or the rate established by previously connecting with students.

The only time we reinforce a specific hourly rate is when it is listed as a “Required Rate” for Partnership students. These students do not pay for their own tutoring and are subject to an hourly rate budget set by their institutions. Tutors must agree to those Required Rates when applying to those jobs.

Our goal is to facilitate transformative tutor and student connections. We know the importance of choice in finding a good fit - for both tutors and students.

For tutors, we work to build an intuitive experience, so you can make decisions quickly and spend more time on what matters: teaching. For students, we strive to provide an experience that is both personalized and accessible. This includes providing students with tutor connections via jobs that more closely reflect what a learner is able to pay.

We believe that features like Recommended Rate move us further down these paths.

If you have questions about other aspects of the tutoring jobs update, like where to find old applications, student payment status, or how to use the “typeahead” function in search, please check out our updated help content.

Online tool improvements

In an age where virtual communication is more important than ever, Wyzant’s online tool has moved to center stage in the tutoring experience. We’ve made several exciting updates to the online tool recently, including:

  1. Resolving issues that would lead to a lagging or stuttering whiteboard during lessons with a lot of content on the board
  2. A background update to the audio and video service of your online lessons: you should notice significantly fewer disconnections than before. (If you or your student experience a disconnection, the online tool will attempt to reconnect automatically. Look for a notification near the top of the tool indicating that you or your student is reconnecting.)

We’re excited about the results of these updates! The rate of disconnections per day for lessons using the online tool has dropped, from >8% down to an average of <1% of lessons per day. We hope you’re enjoying a marked improvement in connection quality during your lessons; we understand how important a stable experience is to effective learning, and your tutoring business.

Keep an eye out for additional improvements to the online tool in the coming month!

5 tips for a great first session

The majority of students in search of a tutor on Wyzant are looking to fill deep knowledge gaps within a specific subject area. Many of these students want an ongoing relationship with a tutor once they’ve found the perfect fit.

In May, Wyzant’s research team conducted a series of polls, surveys, and direct interviews with more than 1,000 students and tutors within the Wyzant platform. Our goal was to better understand what high-performing tutors do to improve their odds of securing ongoing relationships, and hear what students say impacts their decision to continue working with a tutor.

Here are 5 things you can start doing immediately to increase retention with new students.

What’s next

Here are a few projects in the works at Wyzant. We’ll share more details about each soon!

More improvements to the online tool

Some additional quality-of-life improvements will be arriving in the coming weeks, including:

  • The ability to change your audio and video device settings during an online lesson
  • A faster, easier way to enter your online lessons
  • Reduction in common online session issues that you’ve reported to Wyzant

Tips to reconnect with past students at back-to-school time

In July, we’ll be talking with tutors about how you approach back-to-school time, and ways you reconnect with students you taught in the spring. If you’ve had success with returning students in the fall, please tell us about it!

Tutor spotlight

Victoria B's profile title that reads PhD in Chemistry with over 20 Years of Teaching Experience

Victoria has helped my daughter improve her chemistry grade in just a few sessions. She’s very knowledgeable, patient, and teaches in a manner in which the student can reason with the subject. She’s helped my daughter gain confidence as well. I highly recommend her!”

Victoria completed her PhD Chemistry program at Syracuse University in 2012. She’s taught Chemistry at the University of Minnesota Rochester for four years, and also teaches chemistry to both college and high school students, which she’s been doing for more than two decades! Her experience shows; most of her students cite Victoria with helping them truly understand the subject for the very first time. She’s been specializing in tutoring chemistry on Wyzant since 2017.

Silvia P's profile title that reads Spanish slash English tutor

I would highly recommend Silvia. I am not formally studying Spanish in school (I am trying to learn Spanish in my downtime after taking Spanish classes in school years ago), and Silvia has been a great teacher. I’m using a language learning app and wanted extra help to get the enunciation correct along with some additional guidance. Silvia has been a wonderful teacher. So far, she has taken me through the basics and is helping my conversational skills in Spanish. She has been attentive and patient during our lessons. She’s also very knowledgeable and fluent. It’s been a good experience all around.”

Silvia has spent more than 200 hours tutoring Spanish language on Wyzant. She attended College of Mount Saint Vincent where she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a minor in International Studies. She simultaneously attended the Instituto Cervantes (every Friday!), to better understand, read, and write Spanish. Silvia holds a DELE Diploma of Spanish, Level B2, speaking to her high degree of fluency. Silvia leverages that fluency to assist her students pick up Spanish with ease.

Meet the Wyzant team

A photo of Nick sitting near a blue lake

Nick Lux, Issue Tracking Analyst

“I started at Wyzant five years ago (how time flies!) as a Customer Support Representative, before starting my current role as an Issue Tracking Analyst in Winter 2018. My experience as a Rep has informed how I navigate my new role in nearly every way - though I no longer directly discuss issues and feedback with users, I aggregate data from all of the conversations our Team has with users so that our Product and Engineering teams can make informed decisions regarding what part of the platform to focus on next.

Similarly, when new features are released, I’m charged with tracking the response from our users so that any small changes or fast followers can be addressed as quickly as possible after launch. Put simply, my role is a hybrid customer advocate/data analyst, and I am grateful for each part. On one hand, I get to continue interacting with the Wyzant community through data and conversations with our Customer Team, and on the other, I’ve learned valuable analytical skills that I use nearly every single day (SQL being my favorite thus far).

When not staring at spreadsheets or Zendesk views, I enjoy running, taking care of our sweet foster-failure pup named Anja, and rooting for the soon-to-be Superbowl Championship Cleveland Browns.”