How has Coronavirus affected the Online Education Industry?

25 March 2020

How has Coronavirus affected the Online Education Industry?

Coronavirus is the latest ‘big bad’ on the international stage - like a Thanos who snaps you into being a recluse.
Millions of people are currently having to turn their lives upside down so as to avoid catching the virus, and those unfortunate enough to already be presenting symptoms are having to keep themselves as far away from other people as is humanly possible.
Schools across the world are being suspended, with every new day bringing a new school closure.
I’ve written bits and pieces over the years for ‘traditional’ classroom-based teachers, but my emphasis has always been on teaching online. This means that you’re probably not surprised to learn that this shift towards online education internationally has left me with a few things to say on the matter.


How is it affecting online education?

The virus is pushing more people than ever onto online teaching platforms, and the swell in membership is coming with a boost in income for those using these platforms.
Parents throughout Asia are opting to keep their children at home, and educate them over the internet rather than run the risk of a face-to-face interaction.



How does online teaching work?

Even in Europe the schools are sending children home by the thousands, forcing them to learn through their own intranet cloud based education software.
Examinations, for the most part, have been suspended, with children being encouraged to continue their learning at their own pace.
It’s unprecedented in our history - and where online teaching has always been like the red headed step child of teaching that’s kept in the attic, now it’s the only one who can save the day.



What’s it like for those teaching locally in China?

Many teachers are reporting the ‘eeriness’ of seeing the usually bustling cities so quiet, and the experiences of trying to teach a class with only two or three pupils in it.
But this is where an online teacher excels - most online teachers are accustomed to teaching smaller classes, and being confronted with the possibility of several classes of two or three pupils is something of a dream come true for many online ESL teachers.
Empty streets means people are staying indoors - and when they’re indoors then that’s exactly when they might become your students.



OK, so, stay at home and teach English online…?

There’s plenty of money to be made teaching English online, in the wake of physical classrooms shutting down. Don’t endanger yourself or other people when you can easily be keeping a roof over your head teaching English through any of several online ESL programs widely available on the internet.
Thousands of people are rushing to enroll their children in online English classes, so for the first time in a long time, you’ll find jobs falling into your lap. You just have to know where to look.
As the world descends into pandemonium, it’ll do you good to keep a level head - start booking some classes!
There are millions of house-bound Asian children now looking for someone to teach them English over the internet.
Well, more specifically their parents are looking… though I suppose there might be one or two industrious little polyglots signing themselves up once they realize the school gates are closed.



How is the rest of the world talking about this?

An article in the New York Times written by Raymond Zhong highlighted the fact that there are still many children in China who don’t have the capacity to learn online - this is a sobering reality, but we have to stay focussed on who we can help.
Zhong talks about how some children are receiving their homework through a smart phone app, which is proving useful for many of the children who use it.
This, of course, has lead to many heartwarming, if mischievous, stories about students ‘downvoting’ and giving poor reviews to this homework app to avoid having to do their homework.
It’s not an attitude we can endorse, but it’s also quite hard to not be impressed…
But the reality of the situation is this: as the virus spreads ever westward the focus on its effects starts to become more provincial.
The virus has a death toll of over three thousand in Italy and therefore overtakes China. In Spain, up to 80% of people are expected to contract some form of the virus according to CNN; and in the UK, headlines are dominated by recent school closures and fears of high mortality rates among the elderly.
The rest of the world is caught up in a media cycle that’s forcing people to focus on this as if it were the end of the world. We need to remember that there is a whole world full of children who need education because this is not the end of the world.
The children who are sitting at home now, worried because the TV will only talk about the people who aren’t going to make it, will make it. They need to be taught, and they need their education to take as slight a hit as possible.
For too long now, each country has put its own interests ahead of international interests. We’ve seen ‘America first’ and ‘India first’ and ‘China first’ - but this is when we come together because this is affecting all of us.
We’ve all got parts to play - some of us need to stay inside and not pass potential illnesses on to vulnerable people; some of us are nurses and doctors fighting to keep the world together, but many of us are making a living teaching English online, and this is exactly the time when we’re needed.



How Can You Help, as well as Help Yourself?

If you’re already registered with a certified online ESL company then get to booking classes, my friend. There’s plenty of children needing schooling right now - and while it’s not exactly chivalrous to take advantage of a crisis, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t some serious money sitting on the table.
Don’t travel to China, or if you’re already there then don’t turn up at a school all eager and enthused, ready to save the day - there’s probably not going to be anyone to answer the door anyway.
But do get working online.
Using the various companies available and making use of services like Payoneer who provide a way for teachers to receive their online teaching salary from China in their home currency, you can really help to make a difference to the education of frightened children.
So there might not be a Thanos out there, but the world is panicking - and online teaching is uniquely qualified to help.