Online Language Learning: Wall Street English CEO’s View of Technology in Education

Wall Street English CEO, David Kedwards, expressed in a recent webinar the importance of using technology to continuously improve the learning experience, adapting to evolving consumer needs. In turn this enhances the company’s competitive advantage in the global market.

On August 19th, David Kedwards was invited to participate in a webinar organized by Vonage, a global provider of cloud communications solutions. Hosted by Tanya Vernitsky, Product Marketing at Vonage, the event considered the future of online education and especially online language learning in a post-Covid environment. (View excerpts of the webinar in the video below.)

Online English Learning at Wall Street English

Asked about how Wall Street English provides English education to adults, David explains “our methodology was created in 1972 in Italy, and is now delivered in more than 420 centers in over 28 territories around the world. The company focuses on the concept of a blended learning method”. This approach combines self-paced online study with small group in-person classes led by qualified English teachers. (Learn more about the Wall Street English method in this short video).

As the Covid crisis swept westwards, closing brick-and-mortar centers across the world, Wall Street English launched a digital classroom platform to allow its students continued access to their courses.

Kedwards continues: “Our main objective is to offer choice to our students. Every learner will study in different ways, as each of them has its own strengths, weaknesses and desires. Yes, we do operate through over 420 physical centers, but we now give learners the choice to access the full method by moving our classrooms online as well. As the Covid19 pandemic has demonstrated, offering choice to the learners is very important, as it gives them even further confidence that they are able to study in a complete online environment, especially in current times”.

How Wall Street English progressively moved online

Wall Street English has historically always embraced technological innovation in its learning method. Back in the 70s, the original learning method was based on books and cassettes, and evolved over time to using gaming consoles and PCs in the 90s. In the webinar, host Tanya Vernitsky asks the panelists to expand on their experience in online education. David Kedwards explains how Wall Street English progressively moved its core course online through the 2000s, in three main steps:

  1. In 2004, the interactive lessons (the self-study element) were made available online, “allowing the students to progress at their own pace, and using a technology that was specifically developed to be very interactive with the students”. David then adds that “those interactive lessons were developed using the “Friends” sitcom concept, where people can create really strong connections with the characters, making the learning experience much more engaging”.
  2. In 2012, the student workbook was released online, providing learners with an enhanced “interactive experience linking to interesting content, making it again much more engaging compared to printed materials”. This was followed by a complete upgrade of the proprietary learning management system (LMS) and curriculum, which included many new features, greatly enhancing the learning experience and improving efficacy. (Read more about the “Education Platform of the Year” award received at the EducationInvestor Asia Summit in 2019, in recognition of these advances).
  3. Most recently, the launch of digital classes represented “a huge development to the company”, with the objective of “making the online classes much more real life, so that you don’t only interact with your teacher, but also with your fellow students in the way you would do in a physical setting. This is really the key to making the online classes closer to an in-person classroom experience.” David continues that this addition “unleashes the potential of online learning for adults”. Deployed in pilot during 2018 and 2019, online classes were released to the whole network in March 2020, allowing the 160,000 current students to continue learning English during the pandemic.

This short video illustrates the evolution of the Wall Street English blended learning method since its creation in 1972.

 The Breadth of Online Language Learning in the Future

Offering the Wall Street English learning method 100% online represents a great step forward for the company, and contributes greatly to evolving its business and franchise model. When Vernitsky asks Kedwards how he sees the impact of online language learning in post-Covid times, he explains he would identify “three areas that bring real opportunities” to Wall Street English’s business:

  • Move into the online-only market: “Offering a blended learning solution online and in our centers, we’re giving students the choice: they can either come to the center or attend the class online”, David explains. “And there’s a big part of the market that likes to have the flexibility to study at home when they need to, knowing they can also come to the center and meet their friends. Of course, we know that there is a big market which is purely online. This opens up significant opportunities to increase the company’s geographical reach.” David stresses: “it is key for us to maintain efficacy in the digital classrooms, as we always want to be sure and prove that our students learn”. He adds: “We have best-in-class efficacy experts and processes in place to demonstrate that if the students follow our method, they will learn.” (Read more about the Wall Street English unique learning guarantee).
“It is key for us to maintain efficacy in the digital classrooms, as we always want to be sure and prove that our students learn”.
  •  Create content for new courses: According to Kedwards, the online channel enables Wall Street English to “create and offer a great variety of supplementary classes and activities, such as webinars, coaching sessions or courses on specific topics or industries”. This will help the learners improve their language skills and increase their engagement through a much wider range of content, at a global scale. “Technology unleashes a better segmentation, and offers it to a wider audience, bringing like-minds together on a specific content of their interest”.
  • Offer hyper-personalized courses: As every student has different interests and goals when learning English, David explains: “If you can make the technology much more adaptive and interactive, you can tailor the content of the courses rather than create it as a block. If we can make the content more fluid through technology, to adapt to the students’ needs and desires furthermore, we would then get the perfect outcome. The student and the content itself would be adapting to each other.” Hyper-personalization creates more engagement and greater efficacy for learners.

Hyper-personalization creates more engagement and greater efficacy for learners.

Technology and Online Language Learning

Across the years, technology in language learning has enabled Wall Street English to be at the forefront of the English training market, continuously improving learning outcomes for its clients and providing a unique guarantee of results.

Now with an online-only offer in addition to brick-and-mortar centers, Wall Street English is positioning itself as the only player in the market to provide consistency of the learning experience across different channels.

Online learning opens up great opportunities to further evolve the company´s business model, enhancing its offering at the leading edge of technology and increasing its competitive advantage in the global market.

Watch excerpts of the interview with David Kedwards, Wall Street English CEO, and Tanya Vernitsky, Product Marketing at Vonage (August, 19th 2020).

If you wish to watch the whole interview, please contact us by filling the form below. 

Click here to find out more about Vonage.


 

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