I teach English as a Second Language online in addition to my regular classroom. I use Skype for voice communication and use a virtual office to display what is on my computer desktop. For example, I can display a PowerPoint presentation, talk, and control the slides. The students see what I am doing on my machine on their machines. This is especially useful for my students in China; it gives them the opportunity to see websites that the Chinese government bans.
I teach my “virtual students” free of charge. Eventually, I will most likely set up my “virtual school” as a 501c, a nonprofit business. I believe it is the only way to expand, to hire other teachers, and to have the means to provide anyone in the world who wants to learn English the opportunity to English. All educational materials will be released free of charge under a Creative Commons license (allowing them to freely copy and distribute these materials with others).
However, I was curious to see if there was a financial opportunity with this venture and also wanted to see if I could eliminate the problem of what to do if Internet access was not available. I bought some local phone numbers from Skype to allow students to make a local call on a standard phone in their country to me in MA. They dial the local phone number and I receive the call via Skype.
I purchased some local phone numbers in South America. I placed some free ads in Craigslist. (Hopefully, those with Internet access will pass this info on to those that need ESL lessons that don’t have Internet access.) The rate – $5.00 per half hour.
I ‘m thinking that this is too expensive; maybe I should charge $1.00 for a half hour. I realize 5 U.S. dollars may be a lot of money in different currencies.
Eventually, I believe the nonprofit structure is the way to go. However I am curious if a pay model works.
I’d appreciate your thoughts and comments.