Learning centre goes high-tech

Matt Gardner
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The new director of a local tutoring franchise has hit the ground running as his parent company moves to a digital format.

David Fannon is the new director of the Sylvan Learning Centre in Prince Albert, which is moving to an electronic format. Designed for iPads, the digital teaching platform known as SylvanSync promises a more interactive learning experience for students.

Since taking the reins of the Sylvan Learning Centre in Prince Albert on Nov. 1, David Fannon has been busy preparing for the transition to the company’s recently unveiled digital platform, SylvanSync. The new format is designed for iPads and promises a more engaging learning experience for contemporary students.

Parent company Sylvan Learning is an international franchise that offers tutoring in math, reading, writing and other subjects.

“For the last 30 years, Sylvan … has done all their instruction with that massive amount of books you see on the wall behind you,” Fannon said at the centre. “Basically, each one of those books is a component to a different program that we offer. As you can tell, it would be a little bit difficult to bundle those up and move them around, so Sylvan’s been very stationary, if you will. Everybody always had to come to us.

“What is happening as of Monday, if everything continues to go well, we’re switching … our main two programs, our math and reading programs … onto iPad. From then on, about 90 per cent of those books can go into a box and into a closet somewhere and never be used again.”

Fannon said the new electronic format would make learning more exciting for the students while keeping the company on the cutting edge of technology.

Parents will be able to keep track of their child’s progress using the MySylvan web portal, which provides up-to-the-minute information on tutoring lessons. The students will also have full access to the online version of the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Another benefit of the move to SylvanSync is the possibility of setting up “satellite centres” to reach more remote areas. Forty per cent of current students at the Sylvan Learning Centre in Prince Albert come from outside the city limits -- including a large contingent from Melfort, who must make a long drive to attend each session.

“Now I can take and set up a centre in Melfort with just these,” Fannon said, pointing to the iPads in front of him. “I don’t have to transport the books, I don’t have to take anything else. I can have a teacher go to Melfort, sit down and actually tutor the kids there rather than expecting them to come here … It’s going to save them money and time and convenience, which is huge.”

It’s going to save them money and time and convenience, which is huge. David Fannon

Sylvan Learning is launching SylvanSync in a staggered fashion, with 75 per cent of its franchises having already made the transition and the rest in queue.

Before taking over the learning centre, Fannon worked for 10 years in manufacturing, processing flax fibre in the Yorkton area. When a fire gutted the facility in March and put them out of business, the Fannons were approached by the centre’s then-director Angeline Hesje.

Hesje knew the Fannons as “Sylvan parents,” since their daughter was enrolled at the centre as a student. Impressed by their child’s progress since joining Sylvan, the Fannons were receptive to making the transition to the tutoring business.

“I helped with the re-sale for David to come on board, and I can’t tell you how excited I am about David and Lee-Ann,” Sylvan’s director of franchise development Georgia Paulding said. “The fact they had a student, their own (daughter), going to Sylvan and that’s how they became interested in the business, the fact that he’s got the business background and they both have the passion for the community, I just see this as being such an amazing opportunity for both Sylvan and for the Fannons because I think it’s just a really great fit.”

While Lee-Ann Fannon’s current work as a nurse has left David as the official director, the couple plan for her to formally come onboard if the centre grows to a point where it can support both of them.

“Lee-Ann and I, we started as … Sylvan parent(s),” David Fannon said. “We saw what it did for our daughter both in her education and in her confidence, and that’s our desire now … to take that same program and be able to offer it to other families and see them have the same success.”

Organizations: Sylvan Learning Centre

Geographic location: Melfort, Yorkton

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Recent comments

  • Maureen Walsh
    November 28, 2012 - 11:03

    Hi David and Lee-Ann, I am so excited about Sylvan moving to Melfort. I found out about the move from one of my students yesterday. A couple of years ago I googled Sylvan, but I didn't think I could afford to buy a franchise on my own. I was also interested in looking into working with Sylvan, but decided the drive to P.A. was too much for me at the time. I currently and for the last 13 years have worked as an EA at MUCC School and have done some tutoring as well. Will you be looking for staff when you make the move here? Please let me know. Thank you, Maureen