Introducing The New italki Teacher Site

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308 comments

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    Sabine

    I don't understand that you remove 45 minute lessons (and without a warning..). I only teach 45 minutes, it is best for concentration, and it is the only option that allows teachers (and students) a break in between lessons - which means, with the 45 minute option we can actually teach MORE (more money for you)..I chose to teach via italki because it had this option, now I will have to look for other teaching websites.

    I also don't see why it is less confusing. I see many teachers offering the 60 minute lesson and then in the description it says "60 mintues are 55 minutes to allow for a break" (which is totally normal, because we NEED a break) - but this will confuse most students more than just opting for 45 ( or 50, or even 55..all better than 60) minutes.

    Will you inform the students about this?

     

     

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    Lucrezia Oddone (Edited )

    I agree with all my colleagues' opinions in the comments above mine. 

    I don't think it is fair to us teachers to just change everything based on what you think, which - btw - doesn't really correspond to the truth:

    - Informal Tutoring is not a Conversation Practice lesson only! I explain grammar and/or any type of exercises as well. 

    - I would like to see optional the 60 minute lesson and have the 45 minute lesson as well. Students do choose this format.

    It would have been way more beneficial if there were some dialogue before hand, some kind of teacher survey or similar, just to ask us, since it's us - the teachers and the tutors - who work on your platform and get in touch with students, we know what works and what not. 

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    Cyd

    I'm utterly astounded at your removal of instant tutoring and the 45 min option. It's not "confusing" - If a person is learning multiple languages on the internet, then I don't think the concept of 45 mins is difficult for them to grasp.

    If I teach for a few hours, I need those shorter sessions to go to the toilet or make a drink.. I guess I'll just have to start teaching less hours.

    Instant tutoring is a great way of meeting new students, many won't just book out of the blue or want to plan ahead. Many like to have an instant lesson when the motivation to take the plunge and try out the site hits them. It doesn't need "improving" - it works just fine.

    It's also a great opportunity for the teachers to promote themselves, and to give the student a reason to book again. My longest term student of three years came from instant tutoring.

    It seems that you're simply trying to find some pointless busywork to keep your programmers in a job - The site works just fine and as they say, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" - Let them focus on maintenance and stop trying to reinvent the wheel and make life worse for the teachers that earn you your money.

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    Oscar (Edited )

    First of all, thank you for connecting teachers and students. I hope italki keeps growing for many years and I am sure it will, doing the right movements. Like other teachers, I also feel some of these new changes could be reconsidered, as follows:

    1) About removing 45 and 90-minute lessons: No, please. Because many students choose 45-min lessons. I don't think there is low demand at all. The same goes for 1-hour lessons too, very popular.

    And 90-minute lessons may be a less common option, but there are also people who prefers them to. And yes, students will still be able to take a 60 + a 30 mins lesson in a row... but if a teacher wants to offer 90-mins lessons, why shouldn’t we keep the option available?

    So let’s keep them both available for the best, especially the 45-minute lessons.  Let's just keep them all available.

    2) Changes on Informal Tutoring category:

    2.1) About the addition of lesson categories to Informal Tutoring category: It is fine, if that means that you will allow teachers to create lesson categories within the Informal Tutoring category, just like we do with Professional Lessons, for example:

    Professional lessons: 1)... , 2)...

    Informal tutoring: 1)..., 2)... (instead of just one category called “Informal Tutoring” like now)

    2.2) About the renaming of the "Informal Tutoring" category: Better not... I also think we should better keep calling it "Informal Tutoring", for the same reasons mentioned in previous messages.

    If a teacher wants to offer informal tutoring lessons focused on conversation practice, for example, now the teacher will be able to open a new category of informal tutoring lesson and name it "conversation practice"... Or whatever the teacher wants to offer. Thus, there is no need to limit the whole Informal Tutoring category to just Conversation Practice.

    3) Regarding the removal of the optional individual cancellation policy section: I think it should not be a big concern; it was like that before and should work just fine now too… Alright, but do not change the 24-hour booking/cancellation policy, especially the cancellation part. That is crucial.

    4) About removing Instant Tutoring: No, please. We should not even consider it. Although I do not use it frequently, I like it and I find it a very original way to connect those teachers who get some extra time and want to teach, with those students who have a difficult personal schedule and/or just prefer taking lesson on-the-go.

    Conclusion: Italki, Stay Italki as it’s always been, taking careful decisions, and let's keep growing together! Thank you for your time.

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    Margherita

    Although I've never offered instant tutoring as a teacher, I've sometimes used it as a student and I think that this is one of the features that make Italki special compared to other platforms. So why removing it?

    I get the impression that some of these changes are made not for commercial reasons, but for technical reasons. The new site is almost ready, but maybe for technical reasons it doesn't support instant tutoring or 45-minute lessons. So, instead of removing important features that students and teachers appreciate, we could go on using the current site - which works very well - and then when the new site is ready and it has all the features of the old one, we start using the new site.

    Technical development should follow the needs of business, not the opposite.

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    Tutor Dilara (Edited )

    I don't see the point of removing 45' lessons. Arranging our schedule is already difficult for us, teachers. If we want to have a break between lessons, the only option is 30 minutes which is very long, otherwise, we have no break between the lessons. 45 minutes lesson was really good in term of this. Also while 30 minutes is too short for students, sometimes 1 hour is too long, too. 

    Plus, anyone gets confused because of 45 minutes option I don't think they are capable of learning a language.  

    Also the change for community tutors? Many tutors do more than just having a conversation here and they are quite good at it!!! That's what students want, too! To get more than speaking by paying less...

    You say feedbacks will be used for future improvements but it takes at least a year to make that kind of things. So, we have to endure it because we are the one who works here?

    EDIT: The new messaging system is not useful also. Combining messages and notifications is a bad idea. Most of my students stop reading their messages thinking it's another notification about the lesson time. 

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    Isabel Ojea

    A third part of my students take 45-minute lessons for many reasons and this option is very good for teachers who want a break between classes. I do not understand on what you based your decision on, but definitely not on students and teachers' interests. I hope you will change your mind by April 2cd!

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    Daria

    I would really appreciate if italki was more transparent and open about the things they plan on changing in the future,
    rather than just 'announcing' stuff and then expecting the users' feedback.

    Please don't remove the individual cancellation policies.
    You say that ''In order to reduce confusion'' you are removing them. Why?
    If a student wants to book with a teacher, it's their responsibility to check the cancellation policy.
    The problem isn't with individual cancellation policies themselves,
    it's the fact that they are almost hidden on the teachers' pages
    .

    Few students will think to hover their cursor over a tiny question mark on the side of the page to see the teacher's cancellation policy, most students don't do it. That's why I have seen many teachers also mention their cancellation policies on their 'My Lessons and Teaching Style' section of their profile to make sure that their students will read it.
    It's not a function issue, it's a design issue

    I haven't been a fan of the changes that have been happening in the past 4-5 months (the new messaging system, the new teaching system, removing 45 minute lessons as well as individual cancellation policies) because I think they make things unnecessarily complicated.
    A lot of us here love teaching on italki. Flexibility is one of the key things that make italki amazing, but now it seems that it's being taken away both from the students as well as the teachers.

    Please start including the users in your future plans. Make polls, open community discussions, ask people what they want to see in the future, ask for suggestions and improvements.

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    Eliaquim Sousa 易尚明 (Edited )

    You know what is funny? On Monday one of the staff members at Italki opened this thread: https://support.italki.com/hc/en-us/community/posts/360029095433-Top-5-things-you-want-changing-or-implemented-on-italki. Apparently, they wanted to get our opinion on things that would be good to have implemented on Italki. Well, it was either a red herring or the management team writes straight with crooked lines, and it's not up to us, freelancers, to fathom what they are up to.

    I can't express how distressed I am at these new changes. All of my students are long-term students. Two of them have had more than 150 lessons with me, and of my students the one who has had the least lessons has accumulated 20 hours. Two of them have five 45-minute lessons a week -- every single week, booked for the next 3 months --, which is about a fourth of my weekly lessons. I am so sorry about having to question italki's decisions -- they have done a great job in the past, but now whatever decisions they make leave us wondering whether our decision of keeping teaching here was a wise one. It is never good to have your business partners think they have made the wrong decision.

    As for that ignoble order that the student has paid for our time, therefore we should wait for them until they go online, whether it takes one or fifty-eight minutes -- I don't think that is nice on Italki's part. It's our business we are talking about. If Italki provides us with the platform, we are very grateful, but if Italki starts telling us what to do and how to do, Italki might as well provide us with pre-made lesson plans and teaching materials and the like, because then we would be Italki's employees -- not "AN INDEPENDENT, THIRD-PARTY CONTRACTOR" that they so gladly flaunt in the terms of service. And please don't take me wrong: I love this platform and have been working here for the past two years, and very happily so. But if you force those new rules down on us, I can always look for another job / platform. Two students asked me yesterday what I could do to keep the 45-minute lessons, and I said I was completely clueless in this regard.

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    David

    Totally agree. For many language learners, one hour is simply too long. Of course, it is also often too long for the teacher, but many students feel shortchanged if they book an hour and get less time.

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    Teacher Janae

    Like ALL the other teachers are saying. Removing the 45 minute option is a HORRIBLE idea!! These are the best and most preferred. 60 minutes is too long! Especially now that it’s mandatory. For kids especially I’ve found 45 minutes to be perfect.
    Italki needs to incorporate breaks for teachers. Students can schedule lessons and teachers end up have 6 lessons back to back with no break! Italki needs to let teachers add breaks.
    Don’t know how you guys are coming up with these “improved features” but they always SUCK. they are never in the teachers favor. You guys really don’t care about us and make your site more restrictive every day.

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    Beth

    I agree informal tutoring does not just mean conversation practice. I provided a lot more than just conversation practice as a community tutor. However I withhold passing judgment over this point until I can see the new site and how lesson categories work. 

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    Bianca

    Just imagine ... to invest the 15% your are paying italki in creating your own website instead ...

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    Tyler (Edited )

    My suggestion for the instant lesson feature is that it should be changed so that it becomes easier and more intuitive to find teachers for instant lessons. The current set-up requires several buttons to be pressed in order to schedule instant lessons. It could be simplified by adding a "TAKE AN INSTANT LESSON NOW" button on the home page.

    Although not really mentioned in this article, I'd like to point out that "italki classroom" is very buggy and doesn't seem to work half the time for my students. It is also extremely underdeveloped and lacks any kind of useful tools for note-taking or sharing pictures, etc. Thankfully most of my students use Skype so this isn't too big of an issue for me. 

    Overall though, I've been happy with italki to this point and it gets the job done most of the time. Great community, great teachers, good email support, and hopefully we can get the tech in the right place too. 

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    Alexandra MacArthur

    Question? Will italki actually read this? They haven't responded to our complaints before. Now, they're making things worse. 

    Will we ever get an explanation behind some of these decisions? 

    This is just so sad. Clearly there's been a really bad re-org at italki headquarters. Whatever genius was running the show before, needs to come back on board! 

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    Aura オーラ

    They're reading it. I just received this e-mail from them:

    Hi,

    Thank you for providing us with constructive feedback about the upcoming launch of teach.italki.com. Your suggestions will help us to improve italki and also our future communications.

    Our long term plan is to improve the user experience for students and allow teachers to market their services better. We strongly believe that this will be beneficial to all our teachers and students. However, we understand that removing or updating features may have an impact.

    We are reconsidering these changes and will inform you of the outcome next week.

     

    Sincerely,

    Teacher Team

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    Jerome

    My main issue is with the schedule and availability. It should be more dynamic (a click and drag thing). The possibilty to withdraw every Monday should also be considered...

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    Rina E

    PLEASE do not remove instant tutoring, this is great for me to earn extra money and have lessons with students who may need last minute help with something important to them. 

     

    PLEASE do not remove 45 minute lessons, I have students who adore this length of time as it is not too short and not too long. This is especially good for children, why would one want to remove this option? The more options students and families have the better. It allows for flexibility.

     

    Teachers having their own cancellation policy  is a good thing, please don't change this. 

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    Federico (Edited )

    I was going to tell my students that from April 2, Italki would not allow them to book new 45 minutes lessons so I would suggest making their reservations in advance.

    Half of my students have lessons of 45 minutes for the same reasons other colleagues have expressed, the same thing happening with instant tutoring as well. (Just yesterday I received another 45 minute package request from a new student)

    -> Should I continue with my plan to notify my students ?, or, taking our comments into account, will you suspend the implementation of the changes?

     I hope you reconsider it and suspend the changes. We as the teachers know how  students behave and need, changing the name to "Conversacional Practice" reveals you don't, so it's ok you focus on technical and business model but don't ignore what we say because we really do know why  your final customers (the students) prefer italki among other services.

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    Alexandra MacArthur

    PLEASE fix the messages. I've lost over $100 from the changes. Students are complaining left and right. 

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    Caslanda Aurelus

    I can't believe ´´instant tutoring´´will be removed. In average I do instantly teach two students a day. 

    How about 45 minutes session?? Most of my student can't study longer.

     

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    Caslanda Aurelus

    ;) I might do te same Federico.  I was going to tell my students that from April 2, Italki would not allow them to book new 45 minutes lessons so I would suggest making their reservations in advance.:)

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    Daniel Borsody

    Dear Italki staff,

    I would like to add my voice to the many users who have made comments about the new changes on Italki. I'm happy to see that Italki is trying to innovate and improve, and I'm sure many of these changes will great, however, I believe as many other teachers have also expressed, that taking away the 45 min lessons is a great mistake and urge you not to do so.

    The 45 min lessons are an important option, and I use it with students on a regular basis. Taking away this option would be harmful from an educational and practical point of view. From an educational point of view, 45-50 minutes is often considered an optimal lesson time, hence why most lessons times from elementary schools to universities are about 45 minutes long. This is especially important for young students who do not have the attention span for hour long lessons, but 30 minutes are too short for successful structured lessons. From a practical point of view, having only two choices of 30 or 60 mins is extremely limiting for teachers and students, and will make the site and learning experience lesson productive and helpful. Take away 90 minute lessons if you have to, but please realize that reducing functionality and choice too much will damage the learning experience for users.

    I also urge you not to change the name of 'Informal Tutoring' to "Conversation Practice.' Informal Tutoring is exactly that; it is informal tutoring of any kind, such as conversation, reading, grammar or something else. The key difference, as Italki's policy explains well, is that the teacher does not prepare a lesson plan, and therefore, it's more informal and unstructured. Changing the name of this class will not only cause confusion, but will limit the helpful options and methods that teachers and student have to learn on Italki.

    Once again, I'm happy to see that Italki trying to develop and innovative, and I understand that algorithms might give you certain information, but sometimes that information is far from accurate. I urge you to listen to your users, who understand what educational and practical needs are most important, and not cancel 45 minute lessons or change the name of Informal Tutoring.

    Sincerely, 

    Daniel Borsody

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    Hope (Edited )

    From both a student and teacher perspective, I believe breaks need to be implemented. There is an easy way to do this.

    Two of your competitors choose to only offer classes at 25-minutes and 50-minutes. I actually really prefer this and I think many teachers would when they have back to back sessions. I've had a few teachers start the session late because they needed to get water, or use the restroom. I'm okay with that because I understand, and I'm still not getting a full 60-minutes anyway. You might as well switch to 25-minute and 50-minute class offerings.

    As for the Informal Tutoring - the name should stay the same. And please keep instant tutoring.

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    Accent Reduction | Kristine

    Italki!

    I am a new and active teacher on Italki and do NOT agree with these changes.

     

    1) My students would like MORE options, not less.

    2) Teachers need MORE options, not less

     

    *45-minute lessons are an essential component of online learning. Many students cannot concentrate for 60-minutes.

    *Removal of Instant Tutoring does not make sense as busy teachers need a variety of ways to make money on Italki if we are to continue using the website.

    *separate websites for Student versus Teacher profiles seems to go against the entire premise of Italki, I thought it was an integrated learning platform?

    *Informal tutoring is NOT the same as conversation practice. Many students sign up for informal lessons that have little to do with conversation skills.

     

    BETTER IMPROVEMENTS

    ****when students or teachers leave FEEDBACK, give them the option of scheduling the next lesson right then and there! In all other areas of life, we schedule our NEXT encounter with a provider at the end of the current session. 

    *shorten the length of time for lesson confirmation as teachers should be compensated quicker

    *give teachers a private space to make notes privately about lessons so we can keep track of what was learned in the lesson and what we will target during the next lesson. We can then see a history of all lesson plans, content and so forth to provide better service for long-term students.

    *for teachers with a high volume of lessons, decrease the commission percentage that Italki takes per month as an incentive for active teachers.

     

    **come up with other bonuses/incentives for active teachers to continue using the platform

    **spend more resources eliminating perverts on the platform to protect teachers

     

    ***improve Vetting process for teachers who claim to be native speakers in a language. Teachers claim to be fluent, yet target language on written profile has grammatical errors, bizarre use of language and their videos are incomprehensible due to mistakes and pronunciation problems

     

    Thanks~

     

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    Jan Oko

    I'd love to have a possibility to have breaks between lessons. Let's say I'm available between 10 am and 16 pm. Now it is possible that students would book 6 lessons in a row. As a teacher, it is very difficult to provide high-quality lessons without a break. Some teachers add in their descriptions that the 60-minute lessons are in fact 55-minute lesson. This is sometimes really hard when you are finishing one lesson and another student is already there waiting and writing to you. A break possibility would be awesome!

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    Hiromi UD (Edited )

     

     

    • I really need 45 min lessons !

            And then 20 or 25 min lessons might be also good...!       

     

    • Instant Tutoring was quite good.
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    Michael J. (Edited )

    As someone who originally created their italki account in 2014, but has up to this point refrained from teaching a single lesson through italki, I couldn't agree more with every single point made by Accent Reduction Kristine.

    I've read through every single comment up until now and by far the biggest complaints have been regarding eliminating the 45-minute lesson duration (with an emphasis on the fact that teachers need a break between lessons) and instant tutoring.

    I want to focus on an alternative proposal regarding lesson duration that has been raised by several others: change the durations to 25 and 50 minutes (this is actually fairly standard in the industry, I know of no other sites which offer lessons which are exactly 60 minutes and provide teachers with no rest period between lessons).

    The mandatory 60-minute lesson duration is the main reason I have not taught a single lesson on italki. I need 5-10 minutes between lessons to reflect on the lesson, write some quick notes, and have a brief break for myself.

    In addition I want to highlight the suggestion from Kristine to include a notes section for the teacher but expound on it a little. 

    On the site where I teach we have a lesson notes page where we write a brief note to the student followed by a section to include words taught or explained in the lesson (at least 3, it is not necessary to include definition) followed by a section for example sentences for said vocabulary (at least 2) and finally a section where we can write notes that the student cannot see which we can review prior to the next lesson.

    As a student on italki, I would find these on-site lesson notes I could use to review vocabulary from previous lessons extremely helpful. I also think that these notes add value for the student to compensate for the shorter durations.

    For the teacher the option exists to take the time between lessons as a break and complete the notes later on.

    I was hoping to get started on italki imminently. But the 1-hour duration requirement, combined with the elimination of the only lesson length that would give me a break between students, renders this plan highly unlikely.

    Lastly as a student studying a language with an extremely high learning curve on pronunciation (Vietnamese), I prefer shorter lessons more often. Thus, it would be extremely helpful to me if the lowest price for a 30-minute duration (or 25) appeared next to the lowest 1 hour price so I can quickly see whether they are offered by the teacher.

    An alternative to my (and others) suggestions for 25 and 50-minute lessons would be to allow the teacher to chose the durations in 5-minute increments, with the site including a "per hour" price on the right.

    Example: lowest lesson price $12/45 minutes ($16/hr).

    Thank you all for taking the time to read my suggestions.

    -Michael J.

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    Michael J.

    tl;dr version:

    Please seriously consider changing the 30 and 60-minute lesson durations to 25 and 50 minutes so teachers can have a brief break between lessons OR allow the teachers to choose the durations in 5-minute increments with the site adding a "per 60 minutes" price to make it easier to compare.

    I also think a notes section for the teacher, or teacher and student (but a section for the teacher's eyes only included), would be extremely useful. Thank you!

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    Erika

    I think 45 minute classes should be kept. Most of my students take 45 minute lessons, and I personally prefer 45 minutes. It's the perfect amount of time since it's enough to get some work done but not so much where it's too tiring. Having the 45 minute and 90 minute class options certainly don't make the scheduling process confusing. 

    Taking away the individual lesson policy is detrimental as well. That was one of the good features implemented in past updates; I don't see how taking that away will help. 

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