And now, what you’ve all been waiting for: Packages!

Packages are bundles of sessions that are sold together at one time. We hope this makes it easier for teachers and long-term students to schedule their sessions on italki.

Teachers can offer packages for both their courses and one-on-one sessions. As always, teachers set their own prices for both individual sessions and for overall package prices.  We recommend offering a discount for students who choose to purchase your sessions in bulk. In order to start offering packages, teachers should go to edit their teaching profile.

Teachers can set packages in bundles of 10, 20, 30, 40, or 50 sessions.  All the sessions within a package must be the same length, for example, 30, 45, 60, 90, or 120 minutes.

Packages1

For students, when you purchase a package, you can schedule as many session as you want (with a minimum of one).  You can reserve the same time every week with a teacher by checking the box “repeat weekly.” By purchasing the whole package at once, you can generally get a discount from the teacher, so make sure you have enough italki Credits (ITCs) in your account for the whole package.

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The idea behind packages is to make it easier for long-term students and teachers to transact on italki. By prepaying for a course, and scheduling multiple lessons at once, students and teachers can spend less time on the system, and more time on learning the language.

We’re still improving the system, so if you have suggestions about packages or what other features you’d like to see on italki, please send those to us through our feedback form or via email at (feedback at italki dot com).

Over the last few months, we’ve taken in feedback from both students and teachers about how the Language Teachers and Language Courses work. We’re now releasing a set of changes, based on your feedback, to make the system easier and more useful. In the next two blog posts we’ll tell you what you need to know about these changes.

New Scheduling System
We have made a number of changes to the scheduling system with the goal of making it easier for students and teachers to match up.

Scheduling

When requesting a session, students are required to select an available time from the teacher's calendar.

Teachers now set a schedule which shows when they are available. When students try to book a session with the teacher, they must choose from those times. This helps avoid the situation where students schedule a lesson for a time when the teacher is asleep. Therefore, it is critical that teachers update their calendars with all possible available times. If a teacher has no available times, students will not be able to request a lesson with them.

In addition, students must request sessions at least 24 hours in advance. This gives teachers enough time to respond and prepare for a lesson.

Teachers will allow be able to set “vacation times”, or dates when they know they will not be able to teach classes. (We will be sending a message to your inbox with a full list of changes.)

Language Courses
We have also made some initial changes to the way Language Courses are handled. Eventually, we hope Language Courses will give teachers a way of showing off specific classes or skills that they can teach. Likewise, we hope it is a way for students to find a specific teacher or structured teaching plan that fits their goals. Notably, if a student wants help on test preparation, translation, or business vocabulary, this would be the place for students to browse.

We are still making many improvements, and we are definitely interested in hearing your suggestions about how to improve Language Courses, the scheduling system, or anything else about the website. Please feel free to send us ideas through our feedback form or via email at (feedback at italki dot com).

Our product team has been working on a number of improvements on the website. Our latest improvement has been to reorganize the personal homepage.

As soon as you login, you can see the new blackboard and layout. First, it’s easier to comment and ask questions on the new blackboard. In addition, now you will be able to see your blackboard posts combined with questions that you have asked. You can also reply in a thread, so your replies can stay linked together.

We’ve also added a side column that has updates from your italki friends. We hope this will make learning a language more social. Now you can see what your italki friends are doing. We hope you’ll spend a little time to answer questions from your friends, or help them with an language issue they are facing.

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We’ve also made a change to timezones recently. Many of you may have noticed that you have been asked to reselect your timezone. This is important as many students are scheduling lessons on italki, and issues like daylight savings make it crucial to synchronize clocks.

As always, please keep the feedback coming through our feedback link or through email (feedback at italki dot com). Your opinions really help us work on where we can improve the site. And keep checking out our blog. We have many more updates coming up soon, and we’ll always let you know about them here.

The italki team

New version of italki.com!

January 20th, 2009 | Posted by Toffler in announcement - (2 Comments)

Today a new version of italki went live!  There have been many changes to the layout, design, navigation, and features of italki.  A couple of changes we’d like to highlight are to Answers and the Language Index.

Answers
When you ask a question, you will be able to add additional information to clarify your question; however, you can not edit your original question.  While the question is still open (ie within 14days of initially being asked, with no ‘best answer’ having been chosen), respondents can edit their answer.  This may help respondents more accurately answer the question after it has been clarified by the asker.

Members can also now vote as to whether questions as related to language learning or not related.  Three votes indicating it’s related to language learning will move it into a category of “Educational questions.”  Members can then decide if they only want to see educational questions related to language learning.  We hope this will help those who are focused on language studies more easily access relevant questions, while giving others a chance to ask cultural and similar questions on the side.

There is now a quick “Ask a question” box on the right side of every Answers page, so you can ask questions more quickly and easily.

Language Index
The language index page for each language is now a one-stop shop for everything related to that language.  We’ve aggregated all the different pages and put them in each language’s index page.  That includes self-study resources like: podcasts, videos, documents, websites, and Knowledge, as well as interactive resources like: language partners, teachers, groups and answers.  You can still post on the blackboard of that language, too.

The new Podcasts and Videos tabs makes it much easier and quicker to find and share multimedia resources for learning that language.

Start browsing around the most recent version of italki to get an idea of the new features and layout, then tell us what you think.  We encourage you to send your feedback on these or any other features you’d like to see to feedback@italki.com or leave a message on our Contact Us page. We’re always looking for new ideas to make italki better.