Online or Offline Teaching

Face-to-face small group learning is best done in a physical space, however we can get close to this experience, at a much lower cost, via online video conferencing. Free commercial tools such as Google Hangouts allow individuals with a common learning objective, but living in different geographical locations, to form close mutually supportive learning communities. We have found that one of the most significant barriers to online learning are the isolation, confidence and communication issues of potential learners. Tackling this problem is a core objective of the Viral Academy.

However the Viral Academy is not just about online learning, the methodology is just as applicable to physical space. Viral Academy courses can be taught in traditional classroom settings, or more informal spaces. This practice is what is know as Flip teaching or flipped classrooms, and has been shown to have significantly better course completion rates when applied to online courses.

We believe that it is not necessary to think of courses as either online, or offline. This conceptual separation of online learning versus physical classes is not helpful. Of course online resources and interaction is part of education. The question is what is the best way to integrate these experiences. In the Viral Academy we encourage small groups to get together in physical space and to team up with individual online students, or even another team of two or three students sitting together at another location. The teamwork can then take place by having a video projector at each physical space enabling a natural dialogue between both remote participants and the person sitting next to you. The emphasis is on group work and interaction, not whether this is online or offline.

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Organizing FlashMobs and/or integrating to Courses

Another way to break the barriers of isolation, confidence and communication issues of potential learners can be achieved via flashmobs at Matera and Sassi, integrating with learning objectives of the course. 

For example: In order to promote an event, A facebook group is developed for the event, and then a flashmob is organized with videos, by a small group of volunteers from Matera (having Artistic, Martial Arts or other interests) will hug a person on streets and make a selfie instagram photo while giving the flyer of the event to the strangers and uploaded to facebook page to promote the event. If the member of the group makes ten such uploads they will get a free lunch) this is an idea that is being floating around to promote a “physical space learning” for VA while breaking above mentioned barriers connected with a series of events for a Kung Fu Project  (initiated by a local from Matera, Felice