English Online - Creating an educational community with more than 10 million unique visitors a month

Working closely with the British Council, BrightLemon successfully created one of the biggest global online communities in education.

As part of a new government initiative to increase the number of English language learners, the British Council wanted to provide students and teachers with the latest in innovation and resources.

So our developers set about creating English Online – an application dedicated to guiding Chinese students through key language-learning steps online.

Connecting teachers and learners with English Online

With around 300 million active learners of English language in China, one of the main aims of the project was to promote communication between teachers and students.

In order to do this, multi-user roles were created to allow both teachers and pupils the ability to interact, providing extra motivation for learners and promoting successful community based education.

The multilingual capabilities of Drupal also allowed our developers to build the site in three different languages; English, Chinese Simplified and Chinese Traditional, in order to support varying learning levels.

Networking platform for Chinese students

The mobile-friendly site provided language input in the form of text, audio and video - sometimes accompanied by a simple task or a glossary/ transcript, however the main focus was to encourage interaction between members.

Therefore, like many social networks, each registered user had a profile area where they could create a bio, add friends, post on their wall and blog. Developers also opened up commenting on all content so that students were provided with a platform where they could communicate quickly and easily with their peers.

The final channel for communication was a simple threaded forum with a few basic starter topics, this was designed to initiate conversations between students and give them an educational platform to connect with each other.

A multilingual network of over 130,000 English language teachers and learners in China

With more than 10 million unique visitors a month, the success of this project far exceeded British Council expectations. The extremely rapid growth in numbers resulted in a multilingual network of over 130,000 English language teachers and learners in China.

“BrightLemon led development of a site which contained multilingual capacity, in depth registration and customer relationship management.

“They also developed a widget and mobile website. All of this contributed to over 50,000 members in our first year.” Andrew Newton - British Council, Hong Kong

Although the site is no longer live, English Online became one of the largest community learning portals within the education sector and featured on high profile websites including the British government’s Number10.gov.uk, BBC News and The Sun.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7193681.stm

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2008/jan/17/gordonbrown.labour

http://www.politics.co.uk/news/2008/1/17/brown-pushes-english-as-global-language

http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/777807/brown-announces-website-further-english-language

http://www.chinese-embassy.org.uk/eng//xnyfgk/t400778.htm

English Online was a new British Council project that came from a government initiative to increase the number of English language learners. We set about helping them guide young Chinese students through key language-learning steps online.

Background

The site needed to provide the latest in innovation and resources for teachers and students of the English language, as well as include features to promote community-based learning. It’s always nice to get that extra bit of extra motivation, and online communities are a great way to provide this. As well as the community element, the site needed to be an educational hub for students, with a variety features implemented to aid different learning styles.

Delivery

The site had to be built in three different languages in order to support different learning levels: English, Chinese Simplified and Chinese Traditional. We enabled the multilingual capabilities of Drupal to do this. To aid sharing and community learning, we implemented social features such as discussions, comments and blogs. And, for on-the-go students, all of this was also available on a mobile site. The site achieved an extremely rapid growth in numbers after going live, well exceeding British Council’s expectations (proud faces all round!) Although the site is no longer live, we are happy to have been able to support the 130,000+ site members throughout the project’s lifetime.

Impact

  • English Online became one of the largest community learning portals within the education sector.
  • Press coverage was received from the BBC, Downing Street, Dries Buytaert's website, and more. (add links)
  • 10 million unique visitors a month. (add key metrics)