At Studycat we’ve talked about communities of learning for years now and our decision to donate our products to people affected by school closures at the start of February meant that our community expanded very quickly (it now covers more than 70 countries and over 11m families). But a community needs to be connected to be a true community, so we started thinking of ways we could help to foster this connection. That’s where our Forums come in.
These forums help by bringing people together to share ideas and learn from each other. The pandemic has had a tremendous, negative impact on us all, but, in many ways, it has had a unifying effect on the world’s educators; for the first time in our generation, the challenges facing us as teachers are largely the same no matter where we are in the world.
Our forums draw teachers from across Asia, Europe and the Americas together and enable us all to share our experiences and jointly explore the best ways to adapt and thrive in the midst of a global crisis. The first forum focused on the day to day implications of making the sudden move from teaching face to face to teaching online and it took place on Classin, Asia’s largest online teaching platform (thank you to Classin for donating it for the event). Phyllis Zhang, Classin’s head of global markets, joined the panel, alongside Alex Russler, director of academics at Seed Education, an institution that combines psychology with English language teaching theories and practices; Ross Thorburn, the host of the TEFL Training Institute Podcast (check out their interview with one of our co-founders here) and Irene Li, the founder of Publink, one of Asia’s largest publishing companies.
We asked our guests what their biggest challenges are, and the need to suddenly become familiar with technology that enables us to reach students remotely was a common theme in their responses. Others highlighted the challenges of navigating our weird new normal, from the difficulties of live lessons being interrupted by house pets or children to the sensitivities of teachers now virtually appearing in their students homes, hyper-aware of what they say and do.
One of the great, positive things we discussed is how we may be able to use what we must do now – use technology to reach students that can’t attend school – to amplify education once the pandemic is over. As we become more familiar with tools that help us educate students remotely, and as children become more accustomed to learning at home, we are adding to our own teaching toolkits. Now’s the time to try new things out!
Our next forum looks at this in more detail because it’s such an important topic – we’ll discuss models for future learning and the ways in which we can use what we are going through now to create opportunities for education in the future. We may not be able to make education fully future-proof but we all know a lot more about how to mitigate the effects of school closures now compared to what we knew just a couple of months ago! It will take place on 5th May at 12pm GMT and we’ll be joined again by Phyllis Zhang from Classin, Rory Henson from Ibis Capital and Gavin McLean from Edmentum.
Anyone can sign up to the forum so come along and share your experiences with us. We are all in this together, and if we join with each other to exchange ideas and expertise, we can come through this stronger and better at what we do. We hope you can join us.