Changes in Education Format: Moving Online in the Era of COVID-19 - Adam Arthur
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Better Life Vietnam (BLV) has had to confront massive changes in both the local and global education landscapes. Changes BLV has had to contend with have included a transition from an in-person classroom model to a virtual classroom model. The mission, however, remains broadly the same: increasing student confidence in second-language communication. The program focuses primarily, though not exclusively, on providing free English language education to underprivileged children in Vietnam. BLV has had to face the monumental challenge of maintaining this goal through a period of disruption. It is a challenge, however, that BLV has managed to the benefit of the program’s students.
The multitude of differences in face-to-face and online instruction can by no means be overstated. This change in education models has created a need for adjustment on both the student and instructor ends. On the instructor end, this transition has necessitated a change in classroom management styles. On the student end, this change presents challenges in adjusting to a different system of rewards and a different level of interactivity.
However, students in the program have managed this challenge gracefully, remaining thoroughly committed to their language learning goals. Nhi Bao, one of the younger learners in the program, has praised the program for the affable approach taken by its instructors. One of the online English program’s adult students has remarked that the teachers allow students numerous chances to practice listening and speaking. In addition, BLV has provided numerous resources for both young and adult learners in the form of publicly available Youtube videos which cover such subject areas as adjectives and shapes, consonant sounds, and speaking English with foreigners. These serve as valuable supplementary aids for English language learners who seek to benefit from BLV’s services.
In spite of these successes, one challenge remains for BLV: access to education for individuals traditionally deprived of technology. Under typical circumstances, an educational volunteer organization such as BLV would be able to rely on the resourcefulness, creativity, and teamwork of its instructors to present engaging, in-class lessons utilizing limited resources, aimed at teaching students with only rare or intermittent access to computers and the internet. This is the greatest uphill journey that BLV faces in the era of COVID-19.
In general, however, BLV has utilized its resources to optimum effect. Students can now access English language lessons online in order to meet their goals, as BLV has transitioned from a face-to-face classroom setting to a virtual one. While a few barriers remain and must be confronted, BLV has remained thoroughly committed to ensuring access to education for underprivileged students across Vietnam.
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