What is Outschool and How Do Online Classes Work?

I currently teach my classes through a website called Outschool. Outschool is a marketplace for live online classes for ages 3 to 18. I sometimes think of Outschool as an Etsy of online courses- you can find classes on so many amazing topics- Spanish, Biology, Civics, the history of Stan Lee comic books, the evolution of Pokemon characters and how it relates to Darwin’s Finches…you know, your typical subjects that you’ll find in any high school. 

There are two types of classes that you can take on Outschool- live classes, where you are video conferencing (similar to Google hangouts or FaceTime) with a teacher and other students at a pre-scheduled time and flexible schedule classes (often called Flex in Outschool) where you can choose to work through that week’s course material in your own time. 

In my live online classes (and really, on all live classes through Outschool) I use a platform called Zoom. Zoom is video conferencing software and is very easy to use! On your screen, you’ll see the my video stream, whatever presentation slides I’m showing, and the other students’ video streams, as shown below (minus the other students of course!) You can talk with the instructor and students in real time and can all see each other. It really is like sitting around a virtual table learning together! If you need to, you can mute your audio and video feeds so that the other students can’t see or hear you (like if you need to step away for a moment) and I will sometimes mute all students while I’m talking if there’s a lot of background noise to make sure that everyone hears what I’m saying.

What you’ll see during a live online class on Zoom.

Each live online class also has a virtual classroom, which is basically a message board where I can upload files of handouts or quizzes, pose questions to the class, or post announcements and reminders. I also will post a link to the class video so that you can go back and refer to it after class is over in case you missed something or want to replay it. 

For my Flex classes, I use a platform called Canvas. Canvas is a website used by many high schools and colleges as a course management system. When you register for one of my Flex classes, I will send you a message with instructions for how to log in to Canvas and get to our classroom. Setting up a Canvas account is free, and it’s relatively easy to find your way around! On Canvas, I post short videos of recorded lectures or explanations of how to do a problem, links to online quizzes, notes, and class discussion questions. Even though you aren’t taking the course live, you are always able to ask me questions and interact with the other students- you just don’t have to do it at a scheduled class time. 

I hope to see you soon in one of my live or flex classes. If you have other questions about online classes, post them in the comments and I’ll answer them!