Lemons-Aid Learning vs Outschool

Lemons-Aid Learning offers courses on their own platform (The Grove), but they have many offerings on Outschool as well. Take a look at the differences and similarities between The Grove’s and Outschool’s platforms. Scroll down below the chart for more specific comparison details. 

Lemons-Aid Learning: Mission, Vision, & Values

Lemons-Aid Learning is a faith-based company with a mission to support families, equip learners, and serve Christ. They desire to teach their learners how to see the world from a Christian perspective and teach all classes from a biblical worldview. They teach courses on their learning platform, The Grove. Lemons-Aid is the recipient of a significant VELA Education Fund grant and is at the forefront of education reform in the United States, especially for students looking for innovative learning options. They hold parents and families in high regard and seek excellence in all they do. Lemons-Aid is not a marketplace like Outschool is; instead, they are a company with employed teachers, united and focused on advancing the mission. They are led by the founder, Karen Lemons, who has a B.A in English Education and M.Ed in Education Administration. She is also an adjunct faculty member at Colorado Christian University, training undergraduate and graduate students to be teachers.

Outschool: Mission, Vision, & Values

Outschool is an education marketplace that matches students to teachers, who offer live classes ranging in subject areas. Their mission still states that they are focused on non-traditional classes, but they have many teachers in their marketplace who teach traditional classes. Their reach is massive, with nearly a million learners and 100,000 classes. Outschool’s mission is to let learners explore their interests, so long as those interests are secular. They value diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. They have official statements promoting LGBTQ+ and Black Lives Matter and AAPI. They have raised $239 million and are led by Amir Nathoo, CEO. Outschool has 5,000 teachers on their platform and 250,000 learners. They are a private company and not yet profitable.

Tolerance of the Christian Worldview

Lemons-Aid Learning teaches from a Christian worldview. The Bible is taught as God’s word, inerrant, true, and the final authority on life. They have adopted the doctrinal statement from the Master’s Seminary. They invite and encourage all students to attend their classes, even if they are not Christians, but all teachers have professed faith in Jesus Christ and teach doctrine in the reformed tradition. In Lemons-Aid classes, teachers and students pray together and read scripture. Teachers also give students plenty of space to doubt, question, and explore answers to life’s most pressing questions.

Classes on Outschool must not promote a specific religion. Some classes, such as those on holidays, are permitted, but only from a secular point-of-view. Outschool prohibits content in classes such as a music class with the song “Amazing Grace” or a literature class with too many biblical allusions. Also prohibited is secular content published by Hillsdale College. Each Outschool teacher is different–some will not tolerate learners expressing a Christian perspective on issues such as gender and will report the learner to the Trust & Safety department. Other teachers on the Outschool platform are tolerant of all learners, including those with a traditional worldview. 

Learning Platforms

With the VELA Education Fund grant, Lemons-Aid is building an innovative and full-featured learning platform for students. Lemons-Aid has a learning management system where students can stay on-platform for quizzes, assignments, tests, gamified learning, interactive features, puzzles, video lessons, forums, groups, etc. This platform also offers a gradebook and reports for students and parents that detail student performance and grades. 

Outschool’s platform consists of a class-wide chat forum and a 1-1 chat forum between the teacher and learner. All lessons and assignments are given in the form of a chat message by the teacher. They do not have a built-in learning management system (no quizzes, gamification, videos, interactive activities, etc.) or a gradebook. This keeps things simple and easy to navigate but limits teachers. Parents can get a “transcript” of a class, which includes the schedule of live meetings and the class description. No individualized student performance is recorded or reported unless an individual teacher offers it. Lemons-Aid Learning does provide traditional grades to their students on Outschool, but learners have to request it. 

Class Formats

Lemons-Aid Learning and Outschool both offer one-time, multi-day, subscription, and asynchronous classes. Outschool has launched a 1-1 tutoring booking system, while this is still on the future roadmap for Lemons-Aid. Lemons-Aid also offers an online, self-paced curriculum and MicroLearning. Outschool’s classes are intended to involve live classes only, although teachers sometimes assign homework. Lemons-Aid offers hybrid classes that allow learners to stay on the platform to complete self-paced lessons and assignments between live classes. 

Community / Local Learning Pods

Lemons-Aid Learning actively works to support families in forming local learning pods. They promote their online community-building but want to help families find each other in real life. Their online class can supplement those local learning communities, whether it be through families, neighborhoods, groups, co-ops, private schools, or micro-schools. Lemons-Aid Learning partners with these organizations. Families have access to official Facebook groups, but Lemons-Aid also provides parents a way on their platform to find local learning pods, and they provide on-platform groups for parents, free of charge and with the freedom to be unapologetically Christian. 

Outschool does not support extending its platform into real-life learning communities. They do offer student groups, but they have discontinued their support and development. Micro-schools, co-ops, or other learning groups can request a class buyout for their students. There are multiple Facebook groups, both official and unofficial. 

Class Offerings

Lemons-Aid Learning offers PreK-12 English Language Arts, literacy, bible, Spanish, and study-skills courses. They intend to hire teachers for other subject areas as they fully develop the platform. 

Outschool offers thousands of classes in every area of study you can imagine, so long as they are secular. Their class content policy and team are incredibly stringent about keeping classes secular and unbiased, going so far as to ban curriculum and content they find offensive for any reason, whether or not they comply with class content policies. 

Teachers

Teachers on both platforms are background-checked annually. Degrees and certifications depend on the classes taught and are described in teacher profiles. On both platforms, teachers and classes are rated 1-5 stars, and parents can offer feedback. On the Lemons-Aid Learning platform, they have a review system and are developing a “tag system,” which will help parents find teachers that are most appropriate for their learners. Professional development and teacher training on Outschool are optional for teachers.

While Outschool is a marketplace, accepting many teachers who apply as contractors, Lemons-Aid
 hires employees and fewer contractors. This is because Lemons-Aid is mission-minded and careful not to drift from the mission to teach all content from a biblical worldview. With employees instead of contractors, they can ensure fidelity to the mission and class standards through careful hiring, training, continued professional development, and accountability. It’s more than just having Christian teachers. They look to hire top-tier Christian instructors who love Jesus as Lord, have effective teaching methods, are content-area experts, can handle the high-tech platform, and, most importantly, know how to intentionally cast a biblical light on content. 

Cost & Payment Options

Both Lemons-Aid Learning and Outschool offer courses approved by states’ ESA funds (state dollars for school choice), but Lemons-Aid is approved by more states than Outschool is. Outschool is an approved vendor in Arizona, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and New Hampshire. Lemons-Aid Learning is an approved vendor in Arizona, Indiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Virginia, and Florida is pending. 

The cost for classes varies by teacher on both platforms. 

Lemons-Aid offers payment plans for semester and yearlong courses, but Outschool does not. Outschool offers weekly payments for longer courses, but parents can drop out, and teachers may cancel those classes if they drop below the minimum. potentially leaving other learners in the lurch for a class. 

Safety

Both platforms are careful to comply with safety laws, including COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule). Both platforms ensure their systems are secure and measures are taken to keep children safe. 

Accreditation & NCAA Approved Classes

Schools are accredited, not classes. Neither Lemons-Aid nor Outschool are schools and are not accredited. However, Lemons-Aid plans to seek accreditation as a learning organization. Further, Lemons-Aid will work with homeschool families to get courses NCAA-approved for student-athletes hoping to attend and play at an NCAA D1 school.