“An online class you can create yourself but don’t have to teach live?”
“Sign me up!“
One of the most intriguing aspects about Outschool when I first heard about the company was their flex classes. I didn’t know the term asynchronous learning back then, but I knew it was a unique opportunity I wanted to give a try.
As an introvert, I lose energy quickly in long stretches of live teaching scenarios. While I do still teach live 1:1 lessons with VIPKid and Outschool, I jumped at the opportunity to be able to prerecord videos and teach students asynchronously.
If you’re wondering:
What is an Outschool flex class?
How do I create an Outschool flex class?
Is making an Outschool flex class worth it?
Read on for answers to these questions, my personal experience making a flex class (so far), and more!
Outschool Post Series
- Part 1 – Outschool FAQ and My Experience Applying
- Part 2 – How To Request a Class Listing (That Will Be Accepted)
- Part 3 – My First Live Pre-K Spanish Class – The Good and The Bad
- Part 4 – All About Making an Outschool Flex Classes
Coming soon: The Pros and Cons of Doing Private Tutoring on Outschool, my 1 year review and more!
All About Making an Outschool Flex Class
What is an Outschool flex class?
To start, there are several types of classes that you can teach on Outschool, including:
- Group lessons (one-time, ongoing, and multiday)
- 1:1 lessons (private tutoring/teaching)
- Flex classes
“Flex classes” are short for flexible schedule classes. Whereas every other type of Outschool class involves live, synchronous learning, flex classes involve non-live, asynchronous learning.
“Outschool also offers what are called flexible schedule classes, which do not rely on live meetings. These classes allow learners to fit in classes that don’t work with their own schedules, but still allow them to have the quality interactions our users have come to expect on Outschool.”Outschool.com Description of a Flex Class
In a nutshell, an Outschool flex class is:
- A course you create of just about any subject that’s approved by Outschool
- At least 4 weeks long
- No required live Zoom meetings or classes
- Learning materials and student-to-student interactive activities are shared via Outschool’s discussion board
How many weeks is a flex class?
Outschool flex classes must be at least 4 weeks long. The maximum number of weeks is 20 weeks.
The 3 flex classes I’ve made so far have been 4 weeks long. I’m currently in the process of making a 5-week class.
Do flex classes involve any live teaching?
There is no required nor expected live teaching with a flex class. Instead, teachers use other methods to present the lesson content:
“Learners and teachers conduct class asynchronously through the use of posts in the Outschool classroom that include pre-recorded lessons, announcements, assignments, and other resources.”Outschool.com Description of a Flex Class
Teachers may offer a 1:1 live session or optional office hours within their flex classes, but that is not an expectation. Some parents specifically choose flex classes to avoid the live teaching component, such as if they have a shy student.
Who can list a flex class?
Before you can list an Outschool flex class, you have to teach at least 1 live class and receive at least one positive review.
Your first live class doesn’t have to be a similar topic, but it can be beneficial to make it similar to see how your target students respond to the content.
I knew I wanted to eventually make a beginner Spanish flex class targeted towards young students (3-6 years old). For my first live class, I taught a Pre-K Spanish lesson, which helped me then plan my flex class content.
How can I get Outschool to approve my flex class?
Just like any Outschool class, Outschool has to approve it before students can enroll.
Flex classes tend to be harder to get approved initially as Outschool looks for student-to-student interaction to be part of the class.
Specifically, here are some pointers Outschool and other teachers have shared:
- Write which types of activities will be part of your flex class that involves student-to-student interaction.
- Don’t use passive words like encouraged or students can… as Outschool wants the phrasing to be more definitive.
- Example: Each week, students will share their project on the discussion board and will comment on other learners’ posts with positive and constructive feedback.
If your listing is denied once (or several) times, don’t fret! Take a look at the feedback Outschool has given and just try again. If you’re having trouble getting your flex class approved, feel free to contact me for guidance!
If you’re not familiar with how to request a class listing at all with Outschool, you can check out my blog post here.
What if my flex class only has one learner enrolled?
Although Outschool wants teachers to include ample opportunities for student interactivity (more on that further down), many times that won’t be feasible if:
- You only have one student enrolled, or
- You have multiple students enrolled, but not all are actively participating.
In my experience, THAT’S OKAY.
If only one student signs up for a flex class, I still run it because there’s no guarantee that another student will enroll if you postpone. With one student, I still always respond to any of their work or assignments with meaningful feedback (when applicable) or something that promotes interaction with me.
I’ll usually respond with either text (with or without a picture attached), audio, or video (usually depending on how much time I have) so that students can feel like I’m actually their teacher rather than just a video.
Sometimes, nobody participates or responds to comments at all. In that case, you’ve at least structured the interactive component into your class.
How much should I charge?
While Outschool recommends $10-15/hour in general, that figure may best apply to live classes as there’s a clear amount of class time.
How much you charge for a flex class, like any class on Outschool, will depend on a variety of factors and may take some trial and error. Some variables to consider include:
- The number of weeks
- The amount of content you’re covering each week (such as length of your educational videos, worksheets, etc.)
- The demand for that subject overall
- The amount of upfront work and/or starting costs
- Your current booking rate, number of followers, etc.
- The average cost of other flex classes in your niche
For my first beginner Spanish flex class, I put $40 for 4 weeks. Shortly after that, I realized that was too high since I didn’t have many reviews at that point overall (and no reviews for the class yet). I also looked at other similar flex classes in my niche and saw they were charging less overall as well. I changed it to $32 and my next two flex classes were about $28, which seems to be a good rate.
Now that I’m adding Boom cards and have a positive review or two on them, I raised each class price by $2. However, if I notice a lack of any students booking suddenly, I may lower the price slightly again.
In summary, I charge between $7-8/week at this point for my flex classes.
How do I create a flex class?
While there’s no one way to make a high-quality (and hopefully successful) flex class, there are certain categories that are good to keep in mind when planning and implementing a flex class.
Note: I am not an expert on Outschool flex classes. My experience is listed in detail further below, but I’ve ran several flex classes over the past few months and have done a lot of research. Please also conduct your own research!
While making videos aren’t required, I’ve seen just about every flex class teacher mention that they include some original video instruction.
“Original” means that you can’t just take videos from YouTube as your instruction. Otherwise, parents could just look up those videos themselves without paying for your course! Also, there can sometimes be copyright issues with using another creator’s videos for commercial use, so I just make my own.
How can I make engaging educational videos?
There are a variety of ways to create videos that are engaging but still true to your teaching style.
I decided to invest in this green screen cloth from Amazon so that I could use digital backgrounds (via Zoom) for my recordings.
Adding either physical or digital props can also help keep learners of all ages engaged since they aren’t getting the same type of interactions as in live classes.
If you’d like formal educational video mentoring, contact me here!
When Outschool reviews flex classes for approval, they want to see how will this class be interactive for students?
Students can’t just be given the content in an Outschool flex class without any built-in opportunities for student-to-student interaction!
There are a number of ways to plan student-to-student interactions, including (but not limited to):
- Discussion board posts: Students can answer questions, post pictures, etc. about the content and respond to each other
- External apps: Some apps that teachers use for flex classes include Peardeck, Flexgrid, Kahoot!, or others
- Games/challenges: Depending on the learner’s ages, they could create a group project or other collaborative activity
As mentioned above, you may only have 1 learner in a section or students may not follow through on participating. However, there still should be some opportunities throughout the class.
Will students sign up for my flex class?
As with any class on Outschool, there’s no guarantee that students will sign up right away.
Some factors that impact whether students will sign up for your flex class include:
- Subject area
- Other offerings currently available in your niche
- Any prior reviews you may or may not have
- How the class is presented (cover photo, title, description, etc.)
There are also ways you can market your class as well including specific Facebook groups and teacher circles.
You don’t HAVE to market it yourself, but doing so can increase the likelihood of getting that first 1 or 2 positive reviews, which then entice other prospective learners to enroll.
Outschool also advertises your classes for you sometimes, and I’ve seen my flex class advertisements on Facebook and Instagram!
Outschool has mentioned that not every single class on Outschool is advertised at equally. They said that one of their goals is to promote classes that may be more likely to encourage parents to sign up for Outschool, such as:
- Catchy or interesting titles and
- High-quality, engaging Outschool class cover images
I create personalized Outschool class cover images for Outschool teachers if you’re looking to switch up your images!
My Flex Class Experience (So Far)
As of Jan. 2021, my flex class experience includes:
- Creating 3 beginner Spanish flex classes of 4 weeks each
- Currently running my 4th 5-week flex class
- 14 students enrolled or currently enrolled
- 4 5-star reviews
- 3 of those reviews are from the same parent who has signed her learner up for each new flex class I’ve made!
Some Class Components
Making my first class took months as I figured out my style and format.
Now, it’s starting to become more streamlined and consistent!
Some of my flex class components include:
- Length of Time: I choose 4 weeks and brainstorm manageable topics that can be covered each week. If the class includes a project, I’ll include extra material at the end the project.
2. Amount of Content: Depending on your content area and age range, you may have a lot or a little bit of content.
For me, the key question I kept in mind was:
“What amount of content is worth the class price and age/level-appropriate?”
Since my target age and level is young students and beginner Spanish, I decided to include core content and enrichment to allow for differentiation. I’ll usually include some vocabulary each week and a sentence pattern or two.
I use a Google slides classroom for each week to share vocabulary clipart, audio, videos, and instructions.
Other teachers use Nearpod and Flipgrid, so those are worth looking into (especially if you want to add more student-to-student interaction) if you’re not already familiar with them!
3. Content Presentation: As with many flex class teachers, I recorded videos of me “teaching” the vocabulary and sentences for that week.
- Video recording: I open my personal Zoom account, start a meeting, and record using the ‘record’ button at the bottom
- Video editing: Flex class videos don’t have to be edited, but I use iMovie to add some pizzazz as my target age is young learners.
- Class materials: I make printable worksheets and flashcards for each week using Canva Pro.
- Content organization: I make a Google slides “classroom” for each week
- End of class certificate: This part is optional, but I modified a Canva certificate template to give to students at the end of each flex class. At least a few students liked it!
- Boom Cards: Adding Boom cards was a recent addition so that younger students could have a more interactive way to practice the content besides just worksheets.
If you’re unfamiliar with making or selling Boom cards, check out the TpT/Boom/Etsy section in my online teacher side hustles post!
4. Discussion board assignments: Each week, I post the Google slides link and any worksheets to the discussion board.
NOTE: Just about all flex class teachers post their material one week at a time rather than all at once. This way, if a student enrolls
5. Student-to-student interaction: Each week, I put at least 3 posts:
- Students can take a picture of something related to the content
- A worksheet post where upload their printable worksheets
- A post where they upload an audio or video of themselves saying the week’s content
I also tell students to comment on another learner’s post (if more than one student is enrolled).
As mentioned above, when you submit a flex class for approval with Outschool, they’ll let you know whether they’ve determined that your specific class has enough opportunities for student-to-student interaction.
Students may not necessarily complete these assignments or submit anything. If you have only one student participating, you can check the example earlier in this post about how I respond to students in the discussion board.
As long as you provide the opportunity, you’ve done your part as you can’t force participation. Some learners and/or parents prefer not to share, but you at least have the framework in place for potential student interaction.
Do I have to include Google slides, Nearpod, etc. in my flex class?
When I started out, I just posted links directly into the Outschool classroom. You don’t need a bunch of programs necessarily if it gets too confusing for you (or parents).
Trial and Error
As with live classes, you may find that something that you thought would work well ends up not being great in an asynchronous format. I regularly adapt and tweak how I present or phrase activities and try to make it easier to understand, so don’t worry if you have to adjust and adapt.
Is an Outschool flex class worth making?
The answer to this question will depend on many factors (of course).
I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity so far as I am particularly interested in asynchronous teaching options to supplement the live teaching I already do.
Admittedly, I’ve spent numerous hours on these 3 (going on 4) classes. My hope is that over time, future enrollments will start to add up.
The good thing is that you can sell parts of your flex class (the videos, worksheets, etc.) on Teachers Pay Teachers or other educational websites if you decide you want to make money from them that way. You can also use them in your other types of Outschool classes, especially if you make a live version that covers the same content.
Going through the effort of making these classes has improved my skills in filming and editing videos, instructional design, and selling educational products on my TpT store and elsewhere.
Starting to see a few more students enroll over time is also nice, but it’s been months of patience, effort, trial and error.
For some teachers that particularly thrive with live teaching, it may be best to focus your efforts on live classes. However, you can do both if you have the time.
The bottom line: If you feel drawn to the prospect of presenting your knowledge in a non-live format and are willing to wait out prospective students, then I’d say at least list one and try it out!
Are you interested in making a flex class in 2021? If you’ve already made one, how has it been so far? Let me know in the comments!
- What opportunities are out there for online teachers? Check out 8 teacher side hustles & activities I tried out in 2020.
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- I create custom Outschool class cover images for Outschool teachers if you’re looking to switch up and personalize your class covers.
- For other tips and resources from Outschool employees, check out this New and Future Outschool Teachers Facebook Group and for current Outschool teachers, Outschool Flex Class Inspiration
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The Introverted Online Teacher