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The Right Way: Sylvan Learning Personalizes Education, Connects Franchises with RightSignature

By: Steve Stormoen / Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Our series “The Right Way” profiles RightSignature power users, revealing their success secrets and the technology tools they use every day.


Sylvan Learning is the next step forward in education. Combining hands-on teaching from highly skilled tutors with inventive educational software, Sylvan Learning upends traditional education by crafting a personalized learning path for each student. The result is an approach to learning that translates to success for both students and Sylvan Learning, which after three decades is still experiencing healthy growth. RightSignature's Steve Stormoen caught up with Sylvan Learning's Amy Przywara, VP of Marketing and Nicole Thomas, Marketing Manager, to learn about the company's impressive approach to education, and how RightSignature helps them along.

First of all, tell me about Sylvan Learning. What’s your story?

Sylvan Learning is the leading provider of personal learning for students in grades K-12. With over 30 years of experience and more than 800 locations throughout North America, we combine direct personal tutoring with the latest engaging technology to change the way students learn, inspiring them to succeed in school and in life.

Sylvan’s proven tutoring approach begins with amazing teachers and equips them with SylvanSync™ technology on the iPad for an engaging, completely original learning experience. Our programs include study skills, math, reading, writing, and test-prep for college entrance and state exams. We also provide educational services to public and non-public schools.

How do you use RightSignature?

Sylvan is a franchisee-based business, and on a yearly basis we need franchisee approval of our annual marketing plans. With over 300 individual franchisees, it’s important for us to make the signing process simple and accessible. Using RightSignature helped us streamline this often cumbersome process. The added benefit was that all our agreements are stored online and delivered via email so we have them available electronically in two easy to access locations.

Gone are the days of franchisees printing, filling out and signing our agreements and then sending them back to us through fax, email or postal mail (yikes!). That process was frankly at odds with our philosophy of providing high-tech learning with a personalized touch. This is a one stop process at its best.

Our first foray with RightSignature was a huge test. We used it to send two different funding agreements to all 300 of our franchisees for our annual marketing drive. It’s a complicated agreement, with lots of places to check and sign, and with at least 600 documents at once, it was completely unfeasible to continue to do by paper. This year, using RightSignature, it was great.

I’m already finding ways to use RightSignature to make things even better next year, too. This year, we were able to take the agreements we’d already made and plug them into RightSignature to make it all work. Next year, we’ll make a brand new agreement from scratch, knowing how to get the most out of RightSignature. I can also start to see see the other documents I can get signed with RightSignature. I have different agreements I need people to sign throughout the year, and I’m looking forward to getting those documents up to speed!

In Sylvan’s 30 years, what has been your biggest success, and how did you get there?

Our biggest success has been tied to our iPad educational program, SylvanSync. We designed SylvanSync to give students the edge they need with the digital tools they already know and love. SylvanSync uses the iPad, to serve as a conduit to deliver an individualized set of digital and interactive lessons that are unique to each child’s skill level and pace. Together with Sylvan certified teachers, we are able provide the individualized, hands-on approach that is key to our process and our success.

Additionally, SylvanSync provides students and parents with access to a personalized website, mySylvan. For parents, mySylvan gives real-time information on their child’s personalized learning progress. For kids, we have online learning quests to reinforce and practice key skills and a rewards program that motivates kids as they learn!

Logistically, the SylvanSync platform has been extremely helpful for Sylvan Learning because it allows existing franchisees to provide Sylvan services outside of their bricks-and mortar centers. Equipping teachers with iPads, franchisees can now open satellites in already existing businesses, such as a local community center, a YMCA, or a public library. SylvanSync truly transformed both our ability to provide personalized learning and our company itself!

Personalization seems to be a growing trend in many industries today. Do you see yourselves on a forefront of a new approach to education?

Sylvan is in the forefront of personal learning and we will continue to lead the supplemental education industry. We are the leader in personal content as well as personal engagement, and both are needed for continued improvements in education today. As the consumerization of education continues, parents are making more choices in the market and Sylvan will be their partner on their child’s educational journey.

All along, a personalized approach to learning has been part of who we are. We’ve never been content with just having a set of worksheets—you bring your kid in and they’re in 4th grade and we say, “This is where they should be.” Sylvan’s approach has always started with an assessment, even before they start the tutoring, to find out what the student’s skill level is. Then they get their personal prescription, so to speak. In the last year or so, when we took a long look at the brand, we’ve been able to bring that philosophy into our practice better than ever before.

That includes our curriculum and our technology, but that level of attention goes all the way down to our website, to the voice we use and the pictures we prioritize. We are really doing something different and modern and are conveying that in all aspects of our messaging and within all levels of our organization.

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