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What makes a great ongoing class?
Explore the dynamic world of ongoing classes on Outschool with this guide to designing an excellent course that engages all learners.

Ongoing classes can be an incredibly fun, versatile, and exciting class format for both you and your learners. These classes follow a theme and occur on a regular basis, but do not build on one another in the way that a short-term or semester class might (psst: get the full scoop on ongoing classes here). Each class stands alone, providing the opportunity for learners to join at any time and flexibility for you as an educator to develop a dynamic curriculum within a topic area. Since learners can attend ongoing classes for many weeks at a time, they also provide a great environment for building strong relationships with Outschool families.

If you’re creating your first ongoing class or want to enhance your existing listings, consider the following tips on designing excellent ongoing learning experiences.

Pick an appropriate theme

Not every class is meant for an ongoing schedule. Many topics require the chance to build on information learned in prior sessions, and for these, you should explore other class formats on Outschool. If your theme can be explored with stand-alone classes or social meet-ups, then ongoing courses may be the perfect fit! Some topics that work well for ongoing classes are:

  • Academic exploration (Example: “2nd Grade Math Practice” or “Reading Comprehension”)
  • Skill development (Example: “Beginner Flute Instruction” or “Advanced Drawing Techniques”)
  • Social clubs (Example: “Let’s Play Minecraft Together”)
  • Special interest clubs (Example: “All About Bugs” or “Creative Writing Club”). Please note: Book clubs that analyze a single text over multiple meetings do not fit the ongoing class model, since sessions would inherently build on one another. These classes are a better fit for short-term or semester courses.
  • Language conversation meet-ups
  • Current event discussion groups

To get an idea of what topics educators are teaching in ongoing courses, head to the class search page and add the filter “ongoing” to see what classes are currently being offered by your peers.

List meeting topics in your class description

Even though ongoing classes do not follow a specific sequence of learning, you should plan your class curriculum at least 4 meetings in advance. Include the specific topic you’ll cover in each session to help families determine whether your class is right for their learners and ensure that appropriate expectations are set. This system also helps you as an educator prepare the curriculum and enter each meeting with confidence (future-you will thank you for planning ahead!).

Exception: If your class is based on current events or a learner-led curriculum, then you are not expected to list specific meeting topics in advance. Instead, make sure your description accurately describes the theme of your course and what general activities or content you’ll be presenting each week.

To help you visualize what a great ongoing class listing looks like, let’s look at this example written by the Outschool team:

Class Title: Kitchen Science, Ages 10-12

Did you know that a lot of ingredients we use every day in the kitchen can help us perform some pretty neat science experiments? In this class, we’ll conduct experiments using common household foods or substances that you may already have in your pantry, cupboards, or refrigerator.

Learners will receive an ingredient list each week posted to the Outschool classroom, and together we’ll conduct safe (but sometimes a little messy!) experiments and evaluate the results we see. Together, we’ll go over basic chemistry principles, practice making scientific observations, and have a whole lot of fun predicting what will happen when we combine THIS with THAT!

Ongoing class schedule:

Week of September 1st: Baking Soda & Vinegar Explosion

Week of September 8th: Skittle Science

Week of September 15th: Gak! It’s a Non-Newtonian Fluid!

Week of September 22nd: What Can Polish a Penny?

Notice how this description includes weekly topics using dates, instead of Week 1, Week 2, etc.? Using specific dates helps prevent confusion for new families joining your ongoing class!

Have a plan for welcoming new learners

Ongoing classes stand out from other Outschool class formats by providing the opportunity for new learners to enroll at any time, instead of on a set start date. Many educators may still have a “core group” of learners that consistently take part in an ongoing section, and this means a new learner may feel out of place unless you take the time to intentionally welcome them into your classroom.

Your lesson plans for each meeting should include an introductory activity that will help any first-time learners get to know you and their classmates. Consider ideas like:

  • Using a name game to energize and introduce learners
  • Starting off with an “All About You” quiz where learners answer questions about themselves with a chat response or Zoom whiteboard annotation
  • Introducing yourself and your class topic with a quick slide presentation or interactive game that allows all learners to feel included

In addition to an introduction, you should intentionally design lessons to be inclusive of all learners throughout the entire class. Avoid allowing returning learners to dominate discussions or games, and make a point to engage with each member of your classroom. Use teaching tools, discussion questions, and interactive activities to encourage participation from every learner.

Extra Pro-Tips

  • Meetings: Since ongoing meetings don’t have a set beginning-to-end schedule, Outschool will not automatically create meeting times for you. You’ll need to schedule meetings from your dashboard (we recommend scheduling at least a month in advance).
  • Schedule Changes: Parents will be charged each Sunday for an ongoing course, so try to make any necessary scheduling changes by Saturday at the latest.
  • Canceling a Meeting: To cancel a meeting, click the red “x” next to the meeting on your dashboard. If you choose to cancel a meeting (or refrain from scheduling a meeting during a particular week), learners will remain enrolled for subsequent meetings. If you cancel a meeting after parent payments are collected for that week, you will be responsible for issuing refunds to enrolled families. Learn more about ongoing class payments and refunds here.
  • Classroom: Learners can only see classroom posts after they enroll in an ongoing course, so make sure to re-post any important announcements each week. Your welcome message will be visible to every learner, no matter when they enroll.

To dive deeper into the world of ongoing learning experiences, check out the Educator Handbook designed to help you succeed at creating outstanding classes. If an ongoing class doesn’t sound right for your topic, explore the many other class formats available on Outschool.

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