Two years ago, Tony Josato was teaching basic internet classes when a neighbor suggested he teach a class about selling on eBay. "I thought it would be great, but I didn't have the time to create an entire curriculum for all the complexities of eBay," recalls Josato, 33.
Nevertheless, a few months later, the O'Fallon, Illinois, entrepreneur began researching a possible curriculum and immediately found out about the eBay Education Specialist Program. This official eBay resource provides non-eBay-affiliated individuals with the tools and knowledge necessary to teach other people how to sell on eBay. It uses the same curriculum developed for eBay University--a fact Josato found particularly appealing--and includes professionally prepared guides for instructors as well as educational materials for students.
Josato became one of the first Education Specialists in the St. Louis area, and eBay training is now the primary business of his company, Josato Consulting. He provides courses for individuals at local community colleges, businesses and other venues, and plans to seek government grants for training people in economically disadvantaged communities to sell on eBay. "I believe we can take this Education Specialist Program to the next level in making a difference in somebody's life," he says.
The Education Specialist Program has trained more than 1,000 instructors and counting, says Sharon Guldner, manager of education programs for the eBay platform. Another interesting fact about the program is the high level of innovation demonstrated by Education Specialists, like Josato, who are finding new ways to tailor eBay training for specific applications. From weekly homebased sessions to trainers renting out community centers for large group classes, Education Specialists have brewed up an ever-growing set of channels for distributing eBay education.
Guldner says the creative offerings of Education Specialists are benefiting both eBay and eBay members. "There's such great demand for people to learn," she explains. "Everybody's heard of eBay and wants to learn, but at some level there's a little apprehension about how to get started. Education Specialists help break down that barrier."
A particular objective of the Education Specialist Program has been to bring classes by eBay-trained instructors to cities and towns lacking other face-to-face eBay education opportunities. "Education Specialists enable us to get the official eBay University curriculum out to a larger number of people in various local communities," Guldner explains. "While we had other instructor-led educational efforts, this is a way for us to benefit from the network effect of training many trainers who then train many people. The program is now a little more than 2 years old, and it's been incredibly successful in getting into smaller communities."
After starting with the basic how-to-sell course at 2004's eBay Live! in New Orleans, the Education Specialist Program has progressed to more advanced topics, such as how to become a more professional seller. Most recently, the program has developed training to certify Education Specialists as even more advanced trainers.
The Education Specialist Program also provides an online directory that lists training events by location. This makes it easy for students to find appropriate local trainers, as well as for Education Specialists to find clients. That's no accident. Guldner says two of the main goals of the Education Specialist Program are to teach would-be sellers about selling on eBay, and to give would-be instructors high-quality training and tools to start their own businesses teaching about eBay.
"eBay looks at itself as a platform that enables economic opportunity, primarily to small business," Guldner says. "So we've built adjacent opportunities for users to augment what they're already making on eBay. One [opportunity] is training about eBay." You can learn more about the Education Specialist Program or find an Education Specialist near you at www.ebay.com/esp.