On 15th March 2015, Off2Class went live. The ESL Teacher Toolkit is now 3 years old!
After a year in beta, we launched our ESL teacher-led tool. At the time, we had 65 lessons and homework activities combined with a basic student management panel.
How we’ve grown
Since that time, we’ve grown to 700 lessons with homework activities and an expanded student management system. We introduced a placement test to provide a starting point for your potential and actual students. We added our version of a whiteboard, games, quizzes, and lesson summaries.
As we grew, so did our ESL teacher community. Some of our independent teachers started their own businesses. Private language institutes and K12 schools partnered with us. To help users with multiple teachers and large classes, we built an enterprise panel. We allowed users to white-label the product and brand the site with their logo. After all, we want to grow with you, and we want to make you look as professional as possible.
We launched Live Mode, which allows you and your online students to interact without screen sharing. It has improved the teaching experience by removing screen sharing and allows for greater adaptability of the lesson plans with chat and annotation tools.
We’ve persevered, and it’s starting to pay off
Recently, we took some time to look at our strategy and how to improve our product. For the last few months, Serdar, our technical co-founder, has been rebuilding the site from scratch. We want to make Off2Class stronger, more robust, and easier to use. In 2018, Serdar is going to make Off2Class an even more streamlined and user-friendly experience. Specifically, we intend to add features to enable users to see items such as all outstanding homework activities. Serdar is also adding features to improve interactivity between teachers and students.
We’re working with great people and organizations
When we started Off2Class, we really wanted to help our ESL teacher community provide their students will beautiful and pedagogically sound digital ESL content. We’re over the moon to know that not-for-profit organizations like CARECEN and La Providencia are using us, to reach newly arrived US immigrants and at-risk children respectively. It’s good to know that our product is reaching students who may not otherwise benefit from quality ESL materials.
A (slight) change in direction
If you’ve used Off2Class, then you’ve probably provided feedback to us at some point. Regarding content, we created special categories to instruct TOEFL and IELTS students. We’ve added speaking activities on controversial topics to create more interesting classes for advanced students. This year, we’ve started building a curriculum.
Our content mission was to be non-prescriptive. We wanted teachers to pick and choose the content that their students needed, as and when required. However, many of you have asked for a curriculum, a series of lessons that would cover all skills and language to take a student from beginner to advanced proficiency. To meet this goal, we’ll have fewer releases of lesson material over the upcoming months. Afterward, we’ll be releasing chunks of CEFR-based curriculum, a series of lessons designed to be followed in sequence, that will incorporate vocabulary, grammar, speaking, listening, reading and writing. Importantly, we have grown to a point where we’ve been able to hire a proofreader to help rid the lessons of a few pesky mishaps!
Soon, you’ll be able to teach students from A1 to C1 by following us lesson by lesson. Of course, you’ll still be able to select from our categories to teach other topics as and when you need. As an ESL teacher, you know your students best!
A growing team
We always knew that strong customer service would be the primary key to success. We now have two new team members, Ryan Gilroy and Chris Rush, to assist Kris with account management. If you have contact with us, you’ll probably already be familiar with them. Kris continues to oversee our client base as it grows larger, currently serving thousands of users in 85 countries. We pride ourselves on the fact that everyone in the Off2Class team helps with customer service. The people who build and manage the site are the people you communicate with.
Finally, Alicia is helping us with the design and user experience. For three years we made the decision to release content and features as quickly as possible. Now it’s time to bring it all together and improve the overall look and feel of the site. You may have already seen a few design changes, and there are more to come. We’re confident that Off2Class will be looking more beautiful and stylish by our fourth birthday.
Some of you reading this have been with us since before we launched. You’ve trialed and tested the content and functionality and helped us improve the site. We’re grateful for the opportunity you’ve given a very small company in an extremely large market, and we hope you’ll stick with us and enjoy the year to come.
We also hope you’ll forgive the self-congratulatory tone of this post, but we think achievements are worth celebrating!