When language schools were forced to suspend in-person classes earlier this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic many switched immediately to online delivery in order to continue teaching currently enrolled students.
Students and agents now face a myriad of online learning programs, many of them with questionable pricing and quality. Should online language learning courses be just a simple Zoom or Skype teaching, or should they be developed into true E-learning systems taught by trained teachers? Would it be better for schools to adjust their online learning pricing according to the current quality of teaching and programs offered, and move forward in stages? There are schools that have offered free online classes as a way to get their teachers trained and accustomed to the new situation and/or to keep existing and gain new students – a good move that will most certainly not alienate their students and agents, which might happen with overpriced online teaching.
As the online market grows more crowded seemingly by the week, foreign language schools increasingly have to examine their competitors. In these new circumstances, when the excitement of experiencing a language destination is gone, those main competitors have also become local language schools and established online language learning platforms. In addition, schools (and agents) should also understand their target audience and diminished purchasing power caused by the global depression.
While still measuring the quality of instruction and student experience on offer, students and agents wonder how online language studies will continue to evolve as programs are strengthened through further investment and development this year. We believe that successful schools will be those which will be able to offer e-learning systems, delivered by trained teachers. With those e-learning systems the main source of knowledge is not a teacher but knowledge-bases collected and placed in the e-learning system by the teacher. The teacher role shifts from lecturer to that of course developer and, once an online course is in session, the course facilitator. Therefore, investing in preparing teachers to teach online and in developing active learning programs should be a priority for every educational institution, something that might prove to be an insurmountable challenge for many schools which are now struggling to keep themselves afloat.
I would say that the same issues apply for schools and universities, whose fierce rivals have become local educators with Western management and teachers…at least for the time being.
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