Christmas Presents from italki

As I mentioned in my earlier post today about WiZiQ, italki also has some nice new features for its teachers underneath the Christmas tree.

italki has been very busily working on their marketplace recently but the features they launched today are more affecting the overall usability and the booking process on the platform.

In my interview with Kevin Chen, Co-Founder of italki I pointed out that for me the platform is more and more moving towards the “Amazon of language lessons” regarding  the focus the company put on the marketplace feature in the past months. The core features, community and language exchange, are slowly disappearing  from the center stage.

Today italki announced the implementation of new Help Pages, a new Schedule system and (to my mind the most important feature on this list) lesson packages.

On the Help Pages italki is pulling all information together from how to find a teacher or language partner on the platform to how to get the most out of italki. I think you can compare it to something like Zendesk which more and more companies are adding to their websites.

In the new schedule teachers mark the times they are generally available. Personally I would like to see a weekly schedule as I am teaching across several platforms and therefore my availability changes from week to week. A nice feature is the vacation planer and I guess one could use it also to block single days.

It would also be great to have Google / Apple Calendar export / import feature though.
Students are only able to book times the teacher is actually available (makes sense) and lessons can only be booked 24h before the chosen time at latest.

Third and long awaited feature: packages. Packages are working very well on Myngle and are highly requested by teachers and students alike. As language learning is a longer process and builds up on a good relationship between the teacher and the student packages are an ideal offer.

Students don’t have a problem to “bind” themselves to a teacher they are happy with and for teachers it is great to have the security in planning. Teachers are also able to offer discounts easily to loyal students this way.
Teachers on italki can now set packages of 10 to 50 lessons. Students who purchase a package can schedule as many lessons as they like in one go, they can even opt in for the same time and day repeating every week. Great for consistency in the learning process and great for the planning of the teacher.

From the blog post I cannot tell if the teacher will get the money (ITCs) directly into his/her account or if italki will pay out the given lessons to the teacher like on Myngle. But I am sure someone at italki will answer this question for us.

Again, some really nice presents for teachers underneath the Christmas tree. In this case it will help italki to stay on track with its different competitors at least in this section of their business model. I am pretty sure that we will see some major changes to the marketplace in early 2010.

  • Pingback: Kirsten Winkler()

  • italkiToffler

    Hi Kirsten,
    Thanks much for writing this post about the italki updates. Having the ability to export the calendar to Outlook/G-Calendar/iCal would be a great addition. Thanks for the feedback and mentioning the idea of a per week calendar.

    As far as when the teacher will be paid: an equal percentage of the package price is transferred to the teacher's account after each session takes place.

    Please let me know if there's anything else.

    Toffler
    Manager of Marketing & PR, italk

    • http://kirstenwinkler.com KirstenWinkler

      Thank you for your quick answer Toffler. I knew that we can count on you :).

    • chinamike

      An equal percentage of the package price? Wow! What a teacher friendly thing to do. You should be congratulated for taking this step.

      • http://kirstenwinkler.com KirstenWinkler

        Well, next question is of course: is there a deadline for taking the lessons like on Myngle, e.g. what happens if lessons are not taken after 6, 12 months? Will they get invalid, will italki keep the money or split it with the teacher or will there be a refund etc…

        • italkiToffler

          As of now we have the arbitrary expiration date of 6 months. The policy hasn't been formally crystallized as to what happens if the sessions aren't completed. We'll be working on finalizing the policy over the upcoming weeks and we'd love everyone's input.

  • http://edublend.blogspot.com/ Manish Malik

    Talking of Google,

    One term that can is begining to take meaning is Cloud Learning Environment – examples include Google Apps for Educational Institutions.

    I have detailed my recent experiences and that of my students with Google Apps / Cloud Learning Environment here:

    2009/12/cloud-learning-environment-what-it-is.html

  • Yo

    Hi Kirsten, I'm a college student doing an independent study/research on italki and the online foreign language market. I'm trying to gather some info on the market side but it seems very little reliable data exist on internet. Could you please inform me of some good sources that I can resort to? It'll be great if you could send info to ykang@bowdoin.edu. I'll really appreciate that!