Why We’re Sticking to the Online Model
We launched Ace CIPM on April 1st, 2020. Before that time; we had been teaching CIPM classes at all levels for more than five years, at a study centre in Ikeja, Lagos. We first got the idea to start teaching CIPM classes online because of the difficulty some of our students faced preparing for exams. Back then, we would call all of our students as examinations approached to (1) confirm that they were writing exams, and (2) ascertain how prepared they thought they were, so we could make out time to give extra lessons to those who needed it. Every single Diet, at least 30 percent of the class would tell us that they were not going to write exams. I am ashamed to admit it now, but at first, we thought “these people are just not serious.” Our eureka moment came when we really started listening to what our students were saying.
We believe in practicing what we teach, so we decided to apply “the five whys” technique to figure out the problem. Why did some students choose not to write exams, even after paying for tutorials? Because they were not confident they would pass. Why weren’t they confident they would pass the exams? Because they did not feel adequately prepared. Why didn’t they feel prepared? Because they missed a lot of classes and had not had enough time to study. And why did they miss classes and not have time to study? Because of the demands of work and family life. It turned out that most students had full-time jobs. If you live in Lagos, you can imagine how hard it must be to go to work from Monday to Friday and still get up early on Saturday morning to go to classes. Plus; some students worked weekends, so they couldn’t be in class even if they wanted to. That was when it dawned on us that these students were not unserious at all. Being a young professional in Lagos is hard. They needed our help, but we were failing them. This was the key insight that led to our starting Ace CIPM: students need a way to prepare effectively for exams that works within the constraints of their busy lives.
After the February 2020 exams, we called some of our students who we knew needed it the most: would they be interested in online CIPM classes that would only require a time commitment of 60 minutes every day? Five students told us they were interested. We started with those people, and on Wednesday April 1st, 2020; we held our first online class. You may have observed that there was no mention of coronavirus or COVID in the previous paragraph. That’s because it had nothing to do with our starting online CIPM classes: we had begun the groundwork and already fixed a start date before Nigeria entered the throes of the pandemic. COVID just happened to be a fortuitous coincidence, which goes to the heart of this blog post: COVID or no COVID; we will be sticking to our online model. Here’s why.
We are big believers in the power of technology. We know that technology can extend our reach and magnify our impact, and it can do so in ways that the physical world simply cannot match. We can derive one important maxim from this proposition: if something can be done online; it should be done online. We are happy that the Institute is already moving in this direction- examinations can be conducted online, so there’s no reason why they should not be. And if candidates can write exams online, there’s no reason we cannot prepare them for exams online. Although the online model has its own limitations (for instance, it’s harder to teach courses like Operations Research); the opportunities it offers far exceed its limitations, if you can find really creative ways to address those limitations. This is our why, and we believe that it will continue to be valid in a post-COVID world.
We have some evidence that our reasoning is correct. Here’s an example. When we taught physical classes at our study centre in Ikeja, Lagos; our students came from all over the city. I remember Covenant, who used to come from Ajah. And I remember Constance, who used to come from Chevron. We even had students who came from out of state: Hawau came from Sango-Ota; Damilola came from Ijebu-Ode, and Tolulope came all the way from Abeokuta. I am still amazed by these students’ relentlessness. Take Damilola for instance. She worked at a bank in Ijebu-Ode. After close of work on Friday, she would get on a bus to Lagos, arrive late at night, bunk at her brother’s apartment in the city, and be at our centre all day on Saturday for classes. Then she would head back to Ijebu-Ode on Sunday to prepare for the new week, and she did that every weekend for the 13 weeks or so that we had classes (she was inducted in November 2018). Clearly; these are relentlessly determined people, but let’s leave that aside for a moment. Should anyone have to go through that ordeal so they can level up their professional education? Of course; the answer is no. Now; compare that to what we’re doing now. About 70 percent of our current student body still live in Lagos, but the rest live in far-flung places like Abuja (FCT), Abakaliki (Ebonyi State), Makurdi (Benue State), Ilorin (Kwara State), and Awka (Anambra State). But that’s not what’s most impressive about that datum: the most impressive feature of our current student body is that we only know one-third (about 33 percent) of the students in person. The rest are people we do not know personally and have never met before. Yet; we are able to prepare them for exams, successfully. That is our why, and we are never going back.
When we launched Ace CIPM on April 1st, 2020; we had not yet incorporated the company. We did not even register with the Institute as a study centre, even though we had been working at one for over five years. Instead; we decided to do what really mattered: test to see if we could teach CIPM classes completely online, in a way that was flexible, yet rigorous. It turned out that we could. We know because our students told us so. Take Chisom, who had been struggling to take the examinations for two years. Each Diet she would try to study on her own using the study pack. Each Diet she would skip the exams, because she wasn’t confident she was ready. We helped her do it in 12 weeks. But that’s Intermediate II; could we also do it for PE I and PE II? And then we did, and it worked. As they say; the rest is history. From our initial cohort of five students (all of whom were in Intermediate II); we ended the November 2020 Diet with thirty students across Int II, PE I, and PE II. This stuff works!
Who We Are
Having found something that works; we have now incorporated our company with the Corporate Affairs Commission. We are also working on completing our accreditation with the Institute this year, as a completely online study centre. CIPM’s guidelines for accreditation applies to study centres with at least fifty students. We expect to hit that threshold in the coming Diet. We are Career Rocket, and our mission is to help professionals everywhere reach their learning goals. While we will continue to blog with the name Ace CIPM; we will now formally be known as Career Rocket Limited. Please use our new name when you talk about us, refer us, or tweet about us. We’re still working on setting up our social media; but you should follow us and we’ll definitely follow you back. We’re @thecareerocket on both Twitter and Instagram. We are not on Facebook, so do not give money to anyone there who claims to be us. Feel free to reach out to us on WhatsApp if you have any questions; we’re always happy to help.