Did you know that the Outschool team dedicates their time and energy to improving the experience on our platform whenever possible? We’ve listened to the concerns, suggestions, and insights from our educators and families to help improve the Outschool experience. Our goal is to help educators, parents, and learners navigate the intricacies of the different platform features while finding new ways to make things work better. Our innovative engineering team and visionary creators constantly work behind the scenes, deciding which new features to develop.
Let’s look at what happened in 2023 before diving into the proposed updates of 2024.
Big changes in 2023
2023 was an exciting year for Outschool users! Below are some of the most beneficial changes to the platform:
For classes with the waitlist feature enabled, educators can address the challenge of classes not being visible when full, providing parents with a clearer view of available times. Turning on the waitlist eliminates confusion and ensures that parents have accurate information about the availability of class sessions.
The waitlist feature allows parents to keep an eye on full-class sections. We will notify families on the waitlist when a seat becomes available. Doing so simplifies the process for families to monitor classes they’re interested in and helps educators maintain full classes while tracking demand.
For more information on using the waitlist feature, be sure to check out this support document.
To help families better navigate the Outschool experience, we have introduced a series of educator badges to display on teacher and organization profiles and elsewhere throughout the Outschool platform. These badges help highlight particular educators and organizations that may interest families.
How does this benefit you as an educator?
On average, educators who have a Rising Star badge receive two times more enrollments and are three times more likely to have higher retention rates.
Also, educators and organizations who have a Star badge average three times more enrollments and are eight times more likely to have higher retention rates.
Educators and organizations can earn badges as soon as they meet certain criteria, and badges are automatically removed from profiles if the criteria are no longer met. To learn more about educator badges, be sure to take a look at the following resources:
Learner Audience attributes
If you choose to add the applicable US grade level and or proficiency level to your class, there are a few things to note:
- You can only select up to 4 US grade levels and one proficiency level for your class.
- Selected grade levels must be consecutive (ex. 1st – 3rd grade).
- You can tag your class with both the US grade level tag and proficiency tag, one of these options, or none at all.
There are also two new optional sections that allow educators to share additional insights about their class listing:
- Unique Learning Needs – You can include details about how you will support various learning needs in your online classroom.
- Pre-Reqs – In this section, skills or requirements, such as taking a previous class, can be listed here.
Class evaluation attributes
In addition to the learner audience attributes, our developers created a new section within each listing showing if it offers homework, assessments, or grading in a group course. Indicating whether or not a class has one or more of these elements included allows families to determine whether or not the class is a good fit.
Want to learn more about what goes into creating a successful class listing? Read up on Outschool’s standards for class listings.
For educators who may receive payment for multiple sections in one day, you will receive one payment per day as a single batched payout. Organizations will receive one payout per day per organization teacher. If you receive a batched payout, you will see an itemized list in PayPal by section, which includes:
- Number of learners
- A link to the section for each item included in your payment.
Please note that educators and organizations with many sections may see an ellipsis with a link to the Insights tab to download the CSV file if the number of sections overflows the PayPal memo.
Weekly payments for multi-day courses
New payment options give educators the option to allow parents to pay weekly, instead of upfront, for classes that meet for more than one week.
New listing options and policies allow educators to specify whether any class has content that builds from meeting to meeting or is suitable for any learner to join in at any time. Families also need to know that their learner can drop into a class without context or if there is something they need to do before joining. Knowing this information allows families to have a better overall experience while helping educators retain learners.
In addition to platform updates that help educators, our development team also worked hard to help families find the right fit and enhance 1-on-1 experiences in 2023.
Improved search tools for families
We know you’re working hard to market your classes, funnel learners into the next section, and use the right key terms for SEO. That’s why our team improved our class search function to bring more relevant topics to the top of results based on keywords searched this year. But that’s not all!
The Outschool developers also:
- Added a “teacher header” to call out your profile and video when a family searches your name.
- Updated default time search filters to help parents find more after-school classes, and updated price filters to be more inclusive of 1-on-1 class price ranges.
- Created new category pages designed to help more parents find your Outschool classes faster when searching for topics on the web. We also doubled the number of categories available to browse in the search navigation bar on the Outschool site.
Each of these improvements helps families find the right fit for their learner while allowing you more exposure to families during their search.
Enhanced the 1-on-1 learning experience
Educators and families are finding success with 1-on-1 classes. Outschool’s tutoring business has grown year over year, seeing close to 3 times the volume of new tutoring families. With this in mind, Outschool developers are finding more ways to improve the experience.
New options for re-enrolling after a one-time class
Because one-time tutoring classes make up a significant portion of new 1-on-1 enrollments, many parents want to try a one-time class with an educator before making a longer commitment. With this feature, families can book a follow-up meeting or ongoing tutoring after taking a one-time, 1-on-1 class.
More scheduling tools for educators
Scheduling classes for 1-on-1 tutoring should be easy for both educators and families. With this in mind, our team created a new calendar that allows you to set your tutoring availability and makes it easy for families to enroll in times that work for them for a one-time or ongoing meeting. Doing so significantly reduces the back-and-forth messages needed to make a quick schedule change by allowing parents to reschedule ongoing 1-on-1 classes according to educators’ availability.
Continuous classrooms for 1-on-1 learners
By avoiding a section transfer using the latest scheduling enhancements, educators can maintain the same classroom for 1-on-1 learners regardless of whether they’ve taken time off or changed their class schedule.
By eliminating roadblocks, we hope to minimize the back-and-forth frustrations for educators to create recurring, personalized 1-on-1 classes that lead to new business growth and longer relationships with families.
AI teaching assistant
With the updated 1-on-1 format change came an AI tool that is helping educators become more efficient outside the classroom. Note Maker is a new virtual teaching assistant to help you save time with your 1-on-1 families. Simply jot down your feedback and notes, and click “Show me the magic” for our Note Maker tool to create a descriptive and concise summary for you to choose between.
But the fun doesn’t stop there! We have more exciting news about enhancements coming to Outschool in the upcoming months.
Exciting changes for 2024
We’re excited to announce a new class format, paving the way for enhanced categorization and a more tailored learning experience for families. While these changes have not taken effect just yet, we’re excited to share our upcoming definitions for courses, clubs, tutoring, and one-time classes and help you best understand what makes a course a course or a tutoring class a tutoring class, for example. In the coming months, we’ll be rolling out product features and updates that allow educators and organizations to categorize classes based on these definitions, introducing attributes like late enrollment options and detailed syllabi. These feature changes, like syllabus, late enrollment, self-paced asynchronous learning, and better classroom navigation, are designed to help you better support learners in your classes.
Class format definition:
It’s crucial to emphasize that these changes are not immediate. This article serves as a guide for educators and organizations, offering insights into what to expect in 2024 and how to prepare and plan effectively. The outlined adjustments are on the horizon, providing ample time for everyone to anticipate, adapt, and comprehend these upcoming changes and how to prepare your business best. We want to hear from you! If you have any thoughts, questions, or concerns about any upcoming changes, let us know. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Considering this, let’s dive into the specifics. To begin, gain clarity on the prerequisites for each format—whether it’s a course, tutoring session, one-time class, or club. Check out the table below, a valuable resource that will help you define and categorize your class type accurately!
|Tutoring & Private Lessons
|Club & Enrichment
|Evaluation (Homework, Assessment, Grading)
|At least one form of class evaluation must be offered
|Live or async
|Either (Async = flex/async)
|Either (Async = flex/async)
|Either (Async = Chat groups or flex/async)
|Optional (for fixed-length Clubs only)
|Number of meetings
|More than one meeting or multi-week flex/async
|Only one meeting or single-week flex/async
|More than one
Before we make these changes, it is important to keep your class listings as up-to-date as possible with the existing class attributes.
Your feedback is crucial, so if your class doesn’t quite fit into these categories, let us know – we might introduce more formats to accommodate your unique teaching style later in the year!
New “Course” Format
As we take on 2024, we look forward to meeting and matching families’ needs without additional supplementary resources. Building on our strides in online learning, especially for homeschooling families, we’re excited to introduce a fresh class format designed to elevate the learning experience for families and educators on Outschool.
Here’s the scoop on what you will be able to offer for the new class format:
- Offer at-home learning reinforcements such as homework or other assignments.
- Provide feedback to families about their learners throughout the course.
- Offer evidence of learning outcomes, whether that is with a certificate, assessment or grades that can be sent to the family at the end of the course.
- Have a structured syllabus with detailed, weekly information about the class.
- Class content builds during the course.
Recognizing the diverse schedules of learners and their families, we’ve ensured flexibility in our classes. With features like late enrollments and more user-friendly class navigation, you’ll have the freedom to accommodate various learning rhythms, ensuring every learner gets the support they need, when they need it.
Changes to enrollment options allow educators to accept late enrollments for fixed-length classes if they choose to do so. Using this function, families are able to join a class after the first week of classes at a pro-rated rate.
In an effort to make it easier for families to find additional information before purchasing a course our team is creating a new syllabus function in class listings.
For educators, this offers a chance to clearly communicate the pacing and topics covered in your class. The new syllabus options within class listings will also reduce the need for frequent topic updates to class descriptions.
Outschool has been the leader in live, online classes for learners aged 3 to 18 for many years. However we know that there are some families who prefer an asynchronous model, as it can be a better fit for some learning styles, some family schedules, or some personality types.
Traditionally on Outschool, asynchronous learning was presented through flex classes, which offer classes where the educator engages with enrolled learners by posting pre-recorded video lessons each week in the Outschool classroom often with interaction through comments, with some also offering worksheets, quizzes, or assessments for learners to work on independently.
We have heard from many families who wish we offered a truly self-paced async option, for learners who wish to engage with class material more quickly, more slowly, or perhaps intermittently. We’ve also heard that they wish they could buy a self-paced class and start immediately, rather than waiting for the next start date.
We’ve also heard from educators who wish to scale their async teaching but report that our current copy-paste-schedule process of creating flex classes is time-consuming and error-prone.
Later this spring, we will be changing our flex class in a major way to meet the wishes of families and educators. The format, which will be called Self-Paced, will allow educators to pre-load their content and have it auto-posted into each section. Families can then enroll in the course anytime and start immediately, with posts and content uploaded automatically and without the educator needing to pre-set a schedule of available sections. It’s important to note that each section will accommodate only a single learner, ensuring personalized attention and focus.
If families pay upfront in full, they can receive access to your entire course, and move through it at whatever pace suits their needs. If they pay weekly, they will get access to a week’s worth of content at a time, which will be auto-posted to the classroom – you set it up once for the entire class and we handle the posting into each new section automatically! And we will remove all mention of “join live class” from the emails and classrooms related to async classes! Our research gives us confidence that we will see a big boost to bookings in this format while saving educators time every week (some educators have told us this would save them 2-3 hours every week!)
In an effort to improve the classroom experience and help learners navigate classes more independently, the Outschool team is working on adding more structure and information on the classroom page. To do this, the team is looking at integrating syllabus and lessons, showing a learner’s progress through content, linking class recordings and class posts to their corresponding lesson, and, if there is homework for a class, connecting it to the lesson as well. With this enhancement, more learners can stay on top of their classes.
Educator Insights Page Remix
Your feedback on the need for more insight into your business performance on our platform has been duly noted. To better serve your needs, we’re dedicated to refining the presentation of educator stats and payouts, ensuring accuracy and relevance. With these improvements, our hope is that you will be more equipped to make strategic decisions based on reliable data. Stay tuned! You can expect to see these changes to gradually roll out as we progress.
How can you best prepare for these changes?
- Stay up to date on upcoming features by attending the monthly Stay Ahead of the Game sessions, where we cover what changes are upcoming so you can plan and prepare your business accordingly. You can register by visiting the educator library here.
- Make sure that you are subscribed to receive Outschool product and policy newsletters, where you will get the latest information regarding product feature announcements and policy updates!
- With these changes will come product demonstrations where we will walk you through the educator, learner, or parent view, and you will be able to ask questions! As we launch new features, be on the lookout for an announcement to register for future product demos!
- Having these changes in mind now is a great time to revamp or level up your class content! We suggest focusing on classroom content in two key areas: creation and enhancement:
- Creation: Equip yourself with essential tools like a smartphone, external webcam, or handheld camera for crisp visuals. Ensure good lighting and consider investing in a ring light. Even add an external microphone for clear audio.
- Enhancement: Enhance your content with editing tools like Loom, Canva, and Zoom. Explore resources from experienced creators like Aurelius Tjin, Gillian Perkins, and Amanda Horvath for valuable insights.
If you don’t see an update you’ve been waiting for in this preview, that doesn’t mean it’s never coming! If you’ve submitted feedback about a certain function of our platform, you can trust that we’ve logged it and are exploring ways that we can continue to make the Outschool experience better. This preview calls out the big building blocks of this spring and summer’s platform developments—but smaller changes that respond to family and educator feedback are always in the works, even if they may not get as much fanfare.
We will continue to send e-mail updates to educators ahead of each of these feature releases or experiments. To make sure you’re subscribed to educator e-mails, head to your e-mail settings and toggle on the option for “Occasional updates from Outschool.” You may also want to review the spam settings on your e-mail account and mark any Outschool e-mails as not spam.