Important Message from GOA's Executive Director | New Programming for Students, Teachers, and Leaders in Response to COVID-19

This article was first sent as a letter from Executive Director Michael Nachbar to school leaders on February 27, 2020. The letter has been modified to include specific programming details.

We have all been tracking the spread of Covid-19, and it seems likely that it is only a matter of time before it impacts all of our school communities. We have watched many of our consortium schools in Asia prepare for and implement remote learning plans, and we’ve been speaking with our faculty from those schools to learn about what impact this is having on them and their students, how they’re handling the disruption, and what they need moving forward. What we’re finding is that there are a range of needs for both students and educators—some of whom are struggling and others who are thriving. We would like to help all our students have a positive learning journey until this ends, and we feel uniquely positioned to help meet that goal.

Over the past nine years as GOA has identified and trained educators in best practices for remote learning. There are a few key points that need to be understood.

  • First, online learning is all about connecting with others and fostering the relationships we have with our students and colleagues. Whether you’re designing for students or adults, keep the relationships central. You can create strong, healthy communities online. This becomes vital when students and teachers feel isolated or disconnected.
  • Second, you will not get through all the content you might in an on-campus environment. At first, this will feel like a loss, but you will see that this acknowledgement will open up exciting possibilities for what you ask of your students. Online learning is not about replication of what you are doing in on-campus settings. Rather, there is an opportunity to reimagine learning in new spaces. Educators may need support in learning how to teach online.
  • Third, assessments look different online. Instead of having students take a test or a quiz (although those can be used effectively as formative assessments and check-ins), have students demonstrate their learning in a way that requires real application of the material. Teachers will need to create new ways to summatively assess learning through culminating projects, peer-to-peer feedback, and teacher feedback.
  • Finally, balance is fundamental to keeping your online communities healthy. Teachers need to balance synchronous and asynchronous connections and collaboration, and students need to do some of this on their own.

We don’t expect these bullets to be silver ones. When we train our GOA faculty, who are teachers at your schools, we spend hours, days, and years working with them to hone their craft in each of these areas. Some of our schools may be closed for days, others for weeks or longer. We have time to get this right and we’re going to help you through it.

Over the next few weeks we have programming for students, educators, and school leaders covering many of these topics and we hope to see you and your faculty there.

  • For students we will be running our course When Viruses Go Viral again so students can connect with experts in the field of communicable diseases while interacting with other students from around the globe.
  • For educators we will be offering a week-long course, Designing for Online Learning, starting on March 9. This course will cover the fundamentals for quality online courses, online design, relationship building and student support, and other nuts and bolts of staying organized and connected.
  • For leaders we are going to run a Leadership Roundtable to hear from leaders about how they have and are planning to deal with this challenge. We will have more details available soon. Please sign up now to reserve your spot.

This is just the beginning of how we’re planning on helping out. We’ll continue to build and offer other resources to support everyone through this in any way we can. Be sure to also read the blog we published with strategies for online learning when school is closed.

If you need immediate assistance or have a question about any of these programs, please email us at, and we will respond soon.

Be a part of what's next
Connect with us

Contact Us