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The Birth of IH Manchester Online

Back in January we all started to see news stories of Wuhan in China. It was a little bit concerning to see empty streets and so many new hospitals being built. But, it all seemed so far away, didn’t it? Surely this thing would never arrive in the UK? And in any case, wasn’t it just seasonal ‘flu? What was all the fuss about?

However, as the situation detiorated and British people began to be repatriated, the Government started to put new measures in place to screen those travelling from China. But, again, that was just China, so let’s just focus on the rest of the world. No need for concern! Enquiries are coming in, students are still booking courses, we’re starting to get busy for the Spring and Summer.

Then there was the first sad news of a UK Coronavirus related death. Public Health England advised us how to wash our hands, Coronavirus testing centres opened around the country. By the time the Prime Minister held his first press conference, the full extent of what was happening was starting to dawn on us all.

At IH Manchester we work well with IH Palermo in Sicily. We follow their social media posts as they bring a funny and personal communication to their video messages. They started to post about online classes and we started to take note. IH Palermo inspired us to get ready to deliver online classes and so we got to work.

International House World Organisation have always been a wonderful support and sure enough, Head of Teacher Training, Shaun Wilden, popped up, offering a webinar about implementing online learning. The academic team in Manchester began to attend these teacher training webinars and at the same time, started to evaluate different virtual classroom platforms. As a school we put a lot of effort and resources into this project, we reckoned that we needed to have an online offer to compliment our face to face tuition.

The academic team began to pilot live online classes with our existing students. As the process progressed, it also allowed us to train our students how best to use Zoom, our chosen platform. We chose Zoom because it offered both reliability and the features we wanted to be able to teach effectively and communicatively. Zoom only needs low internet bandwith to function and can be used on pcs, laptops, tablets and even phones. All this work meant that IH Manchester was ready to start to teach online one week before the mandatory closure of schools was announced by the Prime Minister.

In fact, during that week IHM teachers were teaching in class but using Zoom, meaning that classes could be kept together; students could come into school and be taught the same lesson as those who preferred to stay in their accommodation, or who had gone back to their home countries. That gave us a further week of fine tuning, learner training and research before all UK schools were closed down on Friday 20 March. By this time we were ready to deliver fully interactive lessons in a virtual classroom of the same high quality in line with our reputation.

When the school went fully online, we worked hard to maintain the same friendly and supportive community feeling that we had enjoyed in our physical premises. And that is where Mina came in. Mina has always been the hub and focus of our school community. Loved by all our students, she is available to them in between classes to provide any help they may need, and is there to answer their questions. So, Mina now has her own Zoom room so that students can still come and speak to her before or after their class.

Mina has even managed to set up a digital online social activity programme for after school! So far this has included; playing “Pictionary” and a Yoga session led by one of our teachers, Lucy. There is even a virtual Karaoke now being planned!

By the end of March we recognised the need to adapt our timetable to fit with the time zone of our students. Consulting with key agent partners around the world, we identified from 3 to 6pm UK time as the optimum timetable for our international students. And this was when our FREE online offer was born. At IHM we are proud of how we help our students to start their journey with us to university or career success. We wanted to keep people’s dreams alive in these strange times. We wanted to encourage everyone to look forward to the time when we can all travel freely again. This situation will pass, normal life will resume. We want you to be ready.

So, we created the following offer:

Take interactive online classes in the IHM virtual classroom and start to improve your English now. All the money that you spend on online course fees with us can then be credited to you for any future English language courses in the IH Manchester school in the UK.

Start you journey with IHM Online.

Email: [email protected]
WhatsApp: + 44 7951 739 675

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