Setting up an online school – Part 20

This time, I will give an in-depth exploration of why you should consider a dedicated platform such as Vedamo over cheaper options like IM services.

Using Skype/IM vs Vedamo

I feel I should totally address this topic at this juncture as, if you have got this far, you are serious about setting up your own school. I will try to give as objective as possible guidelines on this topic although I do feel that I am won over by the beauty of using Vedamo as a teaching tool.

What’s good about IM?

So what is good about IM (instant messaging) and its variants? Plenty, really. I have taught using Skype and Facebook messenger so I will concentrate on those two. You have video and sound, free connections and you can share files. Also, most people seem to have these programs and they are easy to use.

The extra advantages of Vedamo

However, you have to be creative to try and make them act like a physical classroom. They don’t have any dedicated teaching tools. Vedamo has lots. You can draw, you can write, you can do mathematical equations, you can create private rooms, you can control what students see and how. You can hide and reveal. You can be working on a document and instantly type their mistakes exactly beside where they made them. Students can raise their hand to say they want to speak. And there are many more options to create that full on classroom feel. And this is the killer, suppose you are teaching, and you say to yourself, I’d love to be able to do X (which can be something that no one has thought of, which is possible in a virtual classroom, but not in a physical one) then you can talk to Vedamo, ask them what do they think? Can they create this option? If they believe there is a demand, they will look to create this possibility. They have the expertise. Whereas IM services are unlikely to spend investment on an option only useful for teachers.

Vedamo was created for teachers, designed with huge input from teachers and is dedicated to continually providing the best service for teachers at an affordable price. See the main part of this website for their pricing. The pricing increases as you get more work and start needing more resources so it is very inexpensive to get started and it is never a large part of your expenses.

Vedamo can do pretty much everything IM can

The crucial point to remember is that Vedamo has built in IM so anything IM can do, Vedamo can do as well. However, vice versa is not possible. Most of the things Vedamo can do are not possible on IM. It boils down to the only real advantage that IM has: it is free and Vedamo has a charge. But that charge is tiny compared to the advantages Vedamo offers. Because of all the competitive advantages it offers, the charge does not impact your cost to the students. You have your brand displayed prominently. Access to the classrooms are via your site. Students love all the features that Vedamo provides. You have constant real support from people who understand teaching. Vedamo works seamlessly in the background. You can act professional because you are professional, not someone using a free app that can disappear tomorrow. I don’t know anyone who likes dealing with an amateur setup versus a professional one.

Exploiting the senses to get students engaged

For purely teaching purposes, from the time of Tony Buzan’s mindmaps in the 1970’s, using colours, using your senses, using how the brain works, increases your chances of real impact with your classes. Vedamo allows you to exploit all the possibilities of these aspects, generating a wonderland of colour using the colour pens, the highlighters, sound and video to create a way to engage students that they will love.

Of course, I hear you say, IM allows sound and video, and yes it does, but it doesn’t allow you to combine them with the range of teaching tools that Vedamo provides. That is the big advantage. It is essentially like a super IM for teaching. And it doesn’t matter what you want to teach or explain, Vedamo is the best option. Carpentry? You can teach in the students own workshop, using their own tools. The same for bricklaying, you can teach them outside, even. Howabout teaching cooking in their own kitchen with their own familiar equipment and ingredients?

How many students can you teach at a time?

The other advantage of teaching via Vedamo is the number of students you can realistically teach at one time. Basically, IM really only works well on a one to one basis. You end up with having to give a lecture type class rather than an interactive one with some numbers of students whereas, with Vedamo, you can handle whatever amount you feel comfortable with. Probably something like 8-12 is optimum for an interactive lesson. And of course with a non-interactive lecture, you can have almost unlimited numbers coupled with, for instance, a running text board for questions and answers.

Long-term, your only real option is a dedicated platform like Vedamo if you wish to grow a sustainable business. I have said before that the crunch element of business is to find out what the customers want and give it to them. Once they try Vedamo, they won’t want IM. IM services are super at what they do and Vedamo is super at what it does – giving teachers and students the best possible environment to learn. This is why you need it for your business.

I will continue talking about IM versus Vedamo in the next blog. I will compare support systems, ability to make money and how to use Vedamo to improve all your teachers and the efficiency of your operation.

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Gus Worth is a highly experienced writer and educator having worked in universities for nearly 20 years and being first published at the age of six. Currently in the English department of the American University in Bulgaria, he also writes extensively for the web and in print for many companies. He has a particular love of online teaching and enjoys helping teachers take their first steps in the exciting world of the future where you can connect with, and help students develop, all over the planet.
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