Below is our recent interview with Kristen Marion, communications spokesperson for Outschool:
Q: This is the first time we have spoken. Can you provide a brief overview of Outschool?
A: Outschool offers live online education experiences that connect real-life teachers with learners in small-group settings to explore everything from Minecraft, Pokemon and Cooking to Chemistry, Algebra and Literature. With over 50,000 online classes offered by teachers to learners around the globe, Outschool helps supplement what is often missing from a more traditional education. Outschool’s mission is to inspire kids to love learning by making education fun, social and self-directed.
Classes on Outschool range from one-time enrichment lessons to semester-long core courses. Classes are offered across all subjects, and our learners range from age 3 to 18. More information can be found at outschool.com.
Q: Can you give us more insights into your services?
A: Outschool was founded Outschool in 2015 by a desire to have a positive impact in education and to try offering a consumer marketplace of learning experiences outside of regular school. We started by prototyping with a group of innovative parents and teachers in the secular homeschool community. We launched our product in 2017 as a marketplace of live online classes for kids focused on fun and social learning experiences.
Between launching our first version in 2017 and the start of the pandemic, we had 80,000 kids take Outschool classes. Since March this year, we’ve gone from 80,000 kids having taken classes to over 500,000. Aside from scaling our core product, key elements of our response to COVID have included:
We foresee a new normal in K-12 education in response to the problems and opportunities presented by the current crisis. A survey conducted by the company last summer found that 40% of Outschool parents are more likely to homeschool now even when all schools are able to open back up. Additionally, traditional brick and mortar schools will need platforms like Outschool to meet the needs of their students while under budgetary constraints.
We see Outschool as becoming a fixture of learning in the future as schools adopt a more hybrid approach to education post-pandemic. Budget constraints will make enrichment even less of a priority for districts; however, it won’t become less important to parents. Our interest-based classes will help schools fill that gap.
Q: Who would be your ideal user and why?
A: Outschool is for any Pre-K through high school learner wanting to engage more deeply in topics they care about, or of course, for extra help in core classes like Algebra and Writing. Outschool’s large selection of live, online classes gives kids the autonomy to choose what they love – from Learning Spanish by Singing Taylor Swift Songs in Spanish, to Pokemon Paragraphs, to Book Clubs and Science Experiments, to learning magic – there is a no end to Outschool’s offerings, all created by passionate teachers. Especially in today’s pandemic where kids are quarantined and inside, Outschool believes that quality screen time is made possible with social experiences that engage children. Because Outschool’s classes are live and conducted in various time zones across the world – classes can fit almost anyone’s schedules.
In addition, as many families turn to learning pods, homeschool curriculum, and e-learning – Outschool can play an important role in providing social learning experiences for learners of all levels and interests.
Q: What’s the best thing about Outschool that people might not know about?
A: If you haven’t tried an Outschool class for your kids, it’s hard to really grasp the VAST amount of unique learning experiences there are. Some people assume that Outschool is like every other educational platform out there – but Outschool really shines as these classes are live, interactive, online classes for kids – not videos – real classes with kids and teachers in small groups. Our differentiator is that we are live, social, interactive and we bring children opportunities to learn through their own individual passions.
Outschool is also affordable – classes start as little as $5 and average $10-15/class – which is lower than a private tutoring session and other extracurricular activities. Outschool has also made $3M in classes available for free for families in need. More information on the free classes can be found at Outschool.org
In addition, some people may not know that Outschool teachers are independent instructors who create their own classes, set their own prices and truly love to teach. You will find passionate teachers who are experts in their subjects (from fashion designers to Meteorologists, to sports writers, to artists, and more). When you take an Outschool class, you are helping teachers earn an income and allowing them to share their passions with your learner.
Q: And, I have to ask, what can we expect to see from Outschool later in 2020?
A: We will keep improving and expanding our product and community in several different ways:
Simpler class discovery and scheduling: 50,000 classes is a lot of options. We’re going to keep making it simpler to navigate the options and find the perfect learning path for your kid. We’ve been described as the “Netflix of Education”, and we want to aim for a simple, personalized and empowering user experience.
Learner community: Social learning is a key part of our product, and we want to create more ways for learners to connect through their interests, in and outside of class.
International growth: We’ll keep working to make Outschool available in more countries and languages.
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