Schools often resist change, but necessity has been the mother of online reinvention. Scrambled Eggs English School in Milan and its native English teachers have battled through this pandemic from the onset and have come out of it more enlightened and stronger than ever.
This pandemic could profoundly change education for the better. Throughout history, the sector has been conservative and resistant to change. For centuries it had the slate, then came a century of blackboard and chalk. Now students are just a finger-click away from the vast knowledge of Google — so much greater than that of any individual teacher.
Coronavirus has given schools Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Classroom. The technology turns a laptop screen into a classroom, where students and teachers see each other and can question each other in truly collaborative online learning. Just after the UK’s lockdown began, the Department for Education launched a new online school, the Oak National Academy, where 2m lessons were accessed by learners across the country in its first week. Necessity really is the mother of invention.
The pandemic has led us to reevaluate how we view education, and we had to do it fast. The UK government, for example, now sees the advantage of online teaching because it is making laptops available to students who either can’t afford the necessary technology.
Our students at Scrambled Eggs have been more than ecstatic with virtual lessons, as we have garnered very positive feedback. Online English lessons eliminate long journeys to our school in Milan. They allow our teachers to reach even more students than before, as we now have students online who are currently residing in different regions of Italy as well as different countries all around the world. In the future, virtual classes could allow students to attend lesson when they’re available or have the time, and then to stay at home or in a remote location when they prefer.
What lessons can we learn from this?
First, crises force us to adapt. In the current crisis, COVID is forcing parents to be teachers and forcing everyone—students, parents, and teachers—to adapt to online learning tools.
Second, people get comfortable with some of these adaptations. While families are now stressed out trying to educate their children, they are also experiencing educational methods and tools that they’ve never seen before. They are getting more accustomed to them, which means they are also seeing the benefits they may pose.
This is not to say that all the online tools are very good. Many are not. But consider the following: Suppose a teacher tries three online tools during the crisis. She likes tool A, dislikes tool B, and is indifferent on tool C. This doesn’t exactly sound like a recipe for mass transformation, does it? Well, actually, if the crisis had never happened, the teacher would never have known about any of these tools and wouldn’t have used B or C anyway. The key is that the teachers (and perhaps students and parents) now want more of A, and that could be transformative.
At Scrambled Eggs, we have certainly experimented with different ways to carry out online English lessons from our school in Milan, and we’ve been able to draw from the positives and trash the negatives, coming out of this experience as better teachers and getting the most from our students.
It’s impossible to say where exactly COVID-19 has forced us to go and where we will end up, but here at Scrambled Eggs English School we’re always ready to adapt and give our students the best possible product, whether that’s in person or over the computer.