[quote style=”boxed”]I’m not good at marketing but I do keep up with social and professional networks online. I make a habit of sending out updates and reminders about my business, which is growing slowly by referral. [/quote]
Leslie Bowman is a career educator with experience in public school and college teaching, instructional design, academic coaching, faculty training, and professional development. Leslie specializes in designing a unique, new writing program that focuses on the needs of college students who are unprepared for academic writing. She is the author of Online Learning: A User Friendly Approach for High School and College Students, Online Teaching and Learning: Communities of Practice, and Grading Made Fast and Easy. Leslie writes, designs, develops, and teaches graduate and undergraduate online courses in English, Educational Technology, Communications, Writing, and Criminal Justice for several universities and colleges in the US. Leslie’s business, TLC Online Teaching and Learning Center, provides resources and services for online faculty and students in academic coaching, editing, and faculty mentoring. Leslie’s work has been featured an d cited in Distance Education and Online Teaching and Learning journals and websites, and she has conducted workshops and presentations at state and national conferences for the past ten years, including NISOD (TX), DLA (GA), ETLC (VA), SALT (DC), AFACCT (MD), SLOAN-C (FL). Leslie worked for four years as a private investigator and also has a certificate as a self defense trainer and has conducted workshops and written a book on personal safety topics. She has several certifications from the VA DCJS and Center School Safety that include threat assessment, bullying, Leslie works 100% online and frequently travels in her RV, indulging in a nomadic lifestyle that has taken her to 38 states (and counting) around the US.
Where did the idea for Teaching Learning Center come from?
I have been an online professor for many years, focusing on graduate and undergraduate writing classes. Over the past few years, I’ve noticed that too many students are unprepared for academic writing and for online learning. As a former graduate student, I had too many professors who did not know effective ways to teach online. So I decided to start a business where I could mentor online faculty and serve as academic coach for online students. I also provide editing services at reasonable costs because students cannot afford the high prices that I’ve seen from other online editing services. The other component of my business is writing and designing micro-courses to put online for the general public. I am currently working on a series of personal safety and self defense courses
What does your typical day look like?
My day usually begins with checking all my online classes for questions, new discussion postings, and grading that needs to be done. After that, I spend a few hours with mentoring, coaching, and editing for my business. By early afternoon on most days, my work is completed and the rest of the day I focus on my own professional writing (articles, books, etc.).
How do you bring ideas to life?
For my online courses, I research blogs, websites, and public online courses to see what people are interested in learning and also to determine which topics have limited offerings online. For example, business and IT courses online are plentiful, but short courses in personal safety, violence prevention, school safety
What’s one trend that really excites you?
While distance learning has been growing phenomenally over the past decade, there are still so many people who are uncomfortable learning online without that face-to-face component. I see that changing and, with more portable technology (smartphones, tablets, etc.), more people are beginning to use technology that allows them to access learning online, whether it be formal classes or self-directed learning.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I am and always have been a self-directed, Type A personality. I also type over 100 wpm and speed read. This allows me to accomplish all my teaching, writing, and coaching daily and weekly goals in a shorter period of time than most people might be able to do.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I really haven’t had a “worst” job. I’ve had a lot of different types of jobs and loved them all: radio DJ (daily) and individual show (5 hours on Sunday afternoon); private investigating; process service; self defense trainer; investigator professional development trainer (report writing, interrogation, surveillance, etc.); volunteer CASA investigator and child advocate; librarian; elementary school teacher; dance teacher; music teacher; academic tutor.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I think I might have gotten a PhD when I was in my 20’s or 30’s. It’s not worth the time or effort or money now that I’m in my 50’s. I have far more interesting things to do than spend three years working on a PhD at this time in my life. I love to travel and with my teaching and my business all being online, I can take road trips whenever and wherever I want. I’m not the least bit interested in giving up that time and freedom. This is better than being retired!!
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I’m not good at marketing but I do keep up with social and professional networks online. I make a habit of sending out updates and reminders about my business, which is growing slowly by referral. Ideally, I would like to see a faster growth; but for now, I have plenty to do so the slow growth is okay.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Adding more services brings in more business. I started out with selling my books. Then I started the academic coaching and editing services. My next big step is offering mini-courses online in practical application topics that people can use personally and professionally.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
When I first started out with my first two published books, I did not market them at all. I have since learned how to use online networking to get the word out about my books and my academic services.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
My business idea would be to create and offer online classes. There are many places online to offer online classes in anything, from professional topics to “how to” hobbies. I’m working on some private investigation and self defense online classes. Everybody knows about something that other people want to learn.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
During high school I was an accomplished classical pianist but I had such awful stage fright that I chose teaching rather than majoring in music. I play piano and guitar, but only for myself. To this day, I cannot play with anyone else in the room. Surprisingly, I don’t have stage fright when conducting presentations and workshops at national and state conferences.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
I create all my webpages and websites with Homestead and have been using that since the mid-1990s. I also use various animation and presentation software; the most-often used ones are prezi and animoto. I’m learning Camtasia. I tried Dragon Naturally Speaking but it couldn’t keep up with me – I talk too fast.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Anyone who teaches online or wants to create online classes should read my books about grading and communities of practice. These books help online faculty streamline their instruction and assessment for more effectiveness and efficiency. My book, Online Learning: A User Friendly Approach for High School and College Students, is used in some college orientation classes and is a MUST for anyone thinking about going back to school in an online program.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
Leslie Bowman on SheSource Expert: http://www.shesource.org/experts/profile/leslie-bowman
Leslie Bowman on Twitter: @1virtualprof
Leslie Bowman on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/bowmanl
Leslie Bowman on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/leslie.bowman.777
Leslie Bowman on Google+: http://gplus.to/lesliebowman1virtualprof
Google Community Page: http://gplus.to/ProfessorBowmanCOP
Leslie Bowman on Academia: http://waldenu.academia.edu/LeslieBowman
Teach Online Blog: http://teachonline2008.blogspot.com/