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David Coarsey, CEO, Guided E-learning

DC: Correct. It’s often used for things like corporate training, by the government in Switzerland for example. People want to work with a foreign school but to be able to do it from a remote location. So it’s a blended learning tool in that context so students can do some work remotely and some work with a teacher directly.

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"When a student logs in they feel that they are working with the school, not an e-learning company"

The PIE: Do you think that online learning can ever be a substitute for face-to-face learning?

DC: No, I don’t think it can be. I think that language travel is something people choose to do. I mean let’s be honest, if a student wants to learn English it is a lot cheaper and easier if they do it in their own country, and certainly easier if they do it online. Yet students choose to travel, and they want to travel because they want immersion, they want an experience, and they feel it’s going to accelerate their learning.

You can’t get any of that by doing online learning or by studying in country. We believe that the best approach for online learning, as far as the language travel market is concerned, is what we do: to offer preparation and consolidation.

“An overwhelming majority of users after joining a corporate Facebook page never visit it again”

The PIE: What about how schools interact with students online. Sometime schools’ apps and social media efforts can seem a bit gimmicky, do you agree?

DC: Absolutely, it’s big problem actually. There’s a statistic somewhere that an overwhelming majority of users after joining a corporate Facebook page never visit it again. And one of the reasons is that schools have been told they have to produce content for their Facebook pages, but often they just post pictures of their most recent social event. It is not interesting to the people on Facebook.

“The first key is that you don’t put content on that’s going to turn them off”

We try to help schools in this area. I don’t want to position us as Facebook consultants, we’re not, but we’ve studied it quite a lot, so we have a lot of content which we feel is going to be more interesting to a target audience on Facebook. Students can start to push language games or some sort of competition or lessons to their Facebook friends that are more likely to be seen as useful. Students are less likely to block the school and more likely to engage.

The PIE: Do you think students block schools fairly frequently?

DC: Yes all the time. People don’t go onto Facebook looking to be advertised to and this is one of the challenges of marketing on Facebook. But the first key is that you don’t put content on that’s going to turn them off.

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