IH Beirut shares their experience during this difficult time with a positive light.
First and foremost, we’d like our peers in the wonderful IH network, to know that we’re in this with you and hope our story makes you realise that you’re not alone whilst giving you the courage to keep going no matter what challenges you face.
At ALLC IH Beirut, we started looking into online teaching platforms well before COVID-19. For us it was not only a potential revenue stream but also a plan B for when our students were unable to get to us physically. In October 2019, a revolution started here and with it civil unrest, road closures etc. And so the process began, investigating options, testing, training teachers, creating guides for students and teachers, preparing students, trying to convince both students and even some teachers that they had to be ready for online classes, training teachers again etc. Add to that a worsening economy, jobs being lost by the minute or salaries reduced, political instability, uncertainty, declining student numbers, and a notoriously terrible internet connection and you have a recipe for disaster even before COVID-19.
However, we refused to let this stop us. We had to be proactive and adapt. We all knew it was the future not just for us but also our field in general and we’d need to get up to speed with it if we wanted to be able to survive, develop our teachers and ultimately continue helping the Lebanese community achieve their goals.
COVID-19 came to Lebanon in February and as it spread, the Ministry of Education ordered all educational institutions to close including us. We were in the middle of a session but our management team and teaching team came together to get online classes off the ground. Hours were spent again, re-examining online teaching platform offerings out there, understanding, testing, training, re-training, practising and trying to convince those affected that this was the way to go now, in fact our only choice. You either had to get on the bus or get left behind so-to-speak.
Then the fun part came, the platform had been tested, our students and teachers were armed with all the support and training needed and ready to commence online classes but this definitely did not come without its teething problems. Remember reading about our amazing internet? This didn’t help in any way and added to frustrations. Students and some teachers were understandably starting to give up. However, the Lebanese are a highly resilient bunch, after all we’ve lived through civil war amongst other things.
So, as you would expect, we didn’t let this incredibly stressful and frustrating experience nor all the challenges stop us from making this work. We decided to try another platform, Zoom, and we’re now thrilled to say that it’s working a charm but we couldn’t have done it without the support of IH and of course our amazing team of teachers and staff who persisted and refused to give up. Our heartfelt thanks to each and every one of you near and far.