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EF builds a classroom in the cloud for students in China

EF builds a classroom in the cloud for students in China

“School might be closed…but we’re still here!”

That’s the message EF teachers in China sent to their students earlier this year.

When both students and teachers had to stay home due to COVID-19, EF Education First staff worldwide sprang into action and brought the classroom to them.

Over the course of a three-week period, EF completely rebuilt class schedules and moved programs from more than 300 brick-and-mortar schools online, creating immersive group-learning experiences for 200,000 students and 20,000 staff on a newly designed cloud-based platform. The digital shift even caught the attention of CNN.

“We know that students want to get back into their classrooms and they want to be engaged,” said Jacob Torén, CEO of EF China, during an interview with the network. “In this special time we are obsessed with quality, both in our teaching and in our tech platform. Our mindset has to be: we can’t leave any student behind, we have to care for their individual needs and ensure they have a stellar experience regardless of how they access us.”

In a global collaborative effort, staff from all areas of the business made sure students had the tools they needed to continue their learning experience from home. Teachers have the same students they did before the digital pivot and class sizes are still small with a maximum of six students per class.

Since mid-January, EF has continued to add up to 10,000 students per day to online classes in an effort to ensure all students can benefit from these digital classrooms.

“[My students] have all shown a positive attitude to their online group lessons,” EF teacher Sophie Newell told the Shanghai Daily. “Many of them have also been sending us regular videos of them practicing at home.”

EF created brand new online resources for students and teachers such as free daily live streams of English lessons, guides for teachers with tips for leading lessons and information for parents on how they can best support their children’s at-home learning.

EF also provided existing platforms for free, such as Grammar Pro, a personalized, grammar-focused course for kids in grades 3 through 12, the EF Nametale book series for kids 3 to 9 years old, and EF Phonics, daily 10-minute drills for kids 3 to 8 years old.

For adults, EF English Centers provided 2,000 hours of free language learning content online, and the EF Hello app was officially launched in China allowing users to practice conversational English through AI technology.

“It’s been a learning…even if you take all your colleagues…and everyone is spread out across the country and working from home, it’s possible to keep the collaboration going and it’s possible to operate at full speed,” said Jacob. “It’s a great experience to see it.”