Last month, our team dedicated the entirety of March to clearing out the biggest usability problems with the goal of streamlining the online classroom and making it a more cohesive experience.
In order to achieve this, we established continuous feedback loops with our students and teachers through support tickets that were coming in, onsite feedback forms, and most importantly talking to our students and teachers through usability interviews.
We’ve sped up our iteration cycles and are excited to announce the updates we’ve made.
(This is an article I wrote after Bijan asked me to write about the “why” behind Skillshare)
In South Korea, on the second Thursday of November, flights are grounded to reduce noise pollution, the stock market opens an hour late to clear roads, and all schools shut down for the day to keep the country quiet for Suneung.
As our team’s grown up at Skillshare, we’ve had to learn quickly how to architect an engineering front-end that scales with our product.
We’re proud of the fast-paced, but robust engineering culture that’s emerged, and I’d like to take the opportunity to share a high-level picture of our stack in a hope to surface some actionable takeaways, or if nothing more, offer an insightful view into our front-end world.
The Aesthetic Front-End
Writing CSS in a way that keeps files small and modular has been key to how this side of the FE has scaled with us, and thinking objectively about CSS has played a key role in preserving maintainability.
In 2013, we’re setting out to be the most teacher-friendly learning community on the planet. That includes being the place where teachers can earn the most money, period.
So, starting now, we’re lowering Skillshare fees from 15% down to 12% for local classes, which means you keep more of every ticket sale! (This doesn’t include the standard 3% processing fee from PayPal and Stripe) For some teachers, like Avi, who’s made over $100k teaching local classes, this can mean hundreds or even thousands more in your pocket.
We’re continually refining what it means to learn online, and over the last few months, we’ve been launching a range of new features to make learning online as valuable, affective and as fun as possible.
To name a few, these new features include; Groups – to learn with a smaller circle of students, Discussions – to collaborate with your classmates, and the Syllabus – to most importantly, guide you through class, learn new skills, and complete your in-class project.
Over time, we’ve learnt lots about how students began to use these features, and at the end of 2012 we evolved the class page, aiming to really simplify the online Classroom experience on Skillshare.
We knew from the start that we wanted to do online education differently. We have a simple philosophy that drives our view on education: learning by doing.
On Skillshare, students prove what they learn through project completion, while collaborating with other classmates, asking questions, sharing ideas, and exchanging feedback in class. In August, we launched our version of MOOCs (massive open online course) – our Online Skillshare Classes. We’ve started to see a tremendous amount of success with this unique model around “doing”.
“For me in this class, it’s about being engaged. Asking questions, posting stuff, ask for feedback. Sitting in a corner, soaking it all in, is comfortable, but nobody is going to ask your questions for you.”
We couldn’t have said it better!
In large, online classes, active participation is key – as the saying goes, the more you put in, the more you get out. Skillshare’s online courses are often very hands-on and are designed to encourage collaboration and conversation among students.
It’s all about power in numbers: the more you and other students contribute by sharing your projects, posting resources you’ve found, or asking questions of your teacher or fellow students in the Discussions, the more content and feedback you’ll have access to, and the more you’ll learn!
Here are some simple things you can do to get the most out of your online Skillshare class:
At Skillshare we believe that learning by doing is the best way to acquire new skills. That’s why our classes are focused on project-based learning. It’s always important to get feedback on your work, and this can pose a special challenge: other people probably won’t have thought about your project enough to give you really valuable feedback.
We’re solving this problem by encouraging students to join small collaborative groups to work with throughout a class. When you’ve got a small group of students working together, they will naturally become familiar with each other’s work and have more insight into the unique challenges that each student is facing.
One of the best parts of taking a Skillshare class is being able to utilize the skills you learn. The way we make this happen is with our project-based learning method. As students progress through the class, they are constantly working on their projects and making them better.
When we first launched our version of online classes, we allowed students to post their projects to the discussion section and receive feedback. We knew we wanted to improve it and are excited to announce the new dedicated Projects section.
Each class now has a separate section to house all of the amazing projects that students create. It allows them to showcase what they’ve made to the world.