The last issue of ETp included several articles giving advice on the technical side of the sudden switch from face-to-face to online teaching occasioned by the Covid-19 lockdown. By the time you receive this issue, teachers in some countries may be starting to return to the classroom, but many others will still be required to teach online. The articles chosen for this issue reflect this duality and concentrate less on how to set up your online classes, and more on what to do with the students once you are firmly established in your virtual classroom. I notice a recurrent theme in many of the articles, suggesting that online teaching may be seen to have actual advantages, rather than merely being a poor substitute for ‘the real thing’. I wonder how many teachers will continue to incorporate an online element in their teaching once the virus crisis is over.
One of the most inventive ideas comes from Michelle Ocriciano, who takes the opportunity of having access to her own kitchen (and possibly also the virtual kitchens of her students) during her English classes to base her lessons on food – always a popular topic – and actually demonstrate her favourite recipe for pizza.
Both Riccardo Chiappini and Nicky Hockly tackle the question of how to engage the very young (and their parents) in online English lessons, whilst Chris Roland maintains that structure and support are crucial to managing the fun that can be had with his online activities for children.
Sandi Ferdiansyah and Kenia Ninoska Obando have found the Covid-19 lockdown a perfect time to run their intercultural collaboration project, with students from Indonesia and Nicaragua working together on personal digital videos.
Our main feature, by Natalia Wright, makes an important point about teaching, whether this is done face to face or online: the teacher remains fundamental. She is concerned that a complete switch to online teaching runs the risk of fulfilling science fiction writer Isaac Asimov’s vision of a future in which students no longer attend school or interact with each other, and where the teacher is a robot rather than a human.
Whether you are revelling in the possibilities of online teaching, lamenting its restrictions or perhaps even celebrating your return to the classroom, albeit with social distancing precautions, I wish you all the best for the next few months, and hope that you, your families and your students remain happy and healthy.