Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Tiny House Nation and virtual schools

There's a great movement in America right now toward tiny homes. People are giving up the old American dream, and re-imagining it as 500 sq ft or less. Tiny House Nation and all of the other television programs are beginning to tap into this growing phenomena.

It's fascinating to watch as Zach and John, hosts of Tiny House Nation, welcome new families into the tiny house tribe. Zach spends his time building the tiny homes (and coming up with some amazing solutions to the limited space) while John spends his time working with the new tribe members helping them come to a better understanding of what it means to own a tiny home.

So, how does Tiny House Nation relate to virtual schools? The real question is what can virtual schools learn from this FYI program?

1. Small giants 

Tiny homes are not for everyone. Yet, the people who are committed to them, to the lifestyle can thrive far beyond the traditional American home, and mortgage.

Tiny House Nation is not out to convert anyone and everyone to this minimalist way of living. What they are doing is tapping into a growing movement and searching for those families who are open to the possibilities, and are willing to commit to it.

In essence, they are serving a niche market -- one that is growing.

One of the tenets of my Virtual School Manifesto is Be a Specialist. Tiny House Nation represents this concept nicely. They know who they are, who they want to serve, and they are focused on people like them. They are not seeking converts as much as they are working to uncover those who have converted already.

Virtual schools can mimic this approach by knowing who they can best serve, then serve them the best they can. In turn, the niche will continue to grow.

2. Authenticity

Part of what I appreciate about the program is John's effort to demonstrate to these families what it means to own a tiny home before they step foot in their new abode.

He puts families through tasks, has them pare down their belongings, and works hard to show them what it will really be like in their new tiny home -- shared space, lack of privacy, etc.

The goal is not to sell them on tiny house living but rather to provide them the type of granular information they need to be committed to this lifestyle from day one.

If only virtual schools would do a more authentic job of educating families about what it means to be a virtual school family -- giving them the real, granular information they need to make, not just an informed decision, but make a commitment to this new lifestyle. If only.

3. WOW factor

This is where Zach steps in. His solutions to the desires and requests from the families are simply brilliant. He actively searches for ways to WOW the customer. He loves what he does, enjoys sharing it with others, and wants to serve the wants and emotions of the customers, not simply meet their needs.

The correlation here is obvious with virtual schools Proactively seek ways to WOW their customers -- the students and families. Pay attention to the details, plus the experience along the way, and actively pursue a relationship with each student in order to make the experience a WOW one.

It's time for virtual schools to think beyond academics in order to build something remarkable.


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