VIPKid hosts its Journey conference for the teacher community to convene for an event where teachers on the platform network with one another, hear from education thought leaders, and learn best practices and strategies for navigating the digital classroom. This past Saturday, December 5, 2020, marked VIPKid’s 7th Journey conference, and although it looked a little different, the day’s content was just as valuable.
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VIPKid’s 7th Journey Conference Celebrates “Joy Through A Screen” (Graphic: Business Wire)
Instead of meeting in-person, teachers gathered virtually for the day-long Journey conference. More than 3,000 platform teachers from across the U.S. and Canada joined, which marks the largest audience for any VIPKid Journey event. Attendees heard from leading experts in childhood education about building connections and empathy as online educators; centering around the event theme: how do you create joy through a screen?
VIPKid’s founder and CEO Cindy Mi addressed the audience with some words of encouragement for teachers, “You all are uniquely positioned during this new era of online education, helping to lead it forward with your experience.”
“Your ability to connect with your students, build relationships and have an engaging experience is what makes VIPKid unique,” she continued. “The seven years of one-on-one online English language learning has enhanced the understanding that the virtual classroom environment between teacher and student has value in social and emotional learning. We see this in the meaningful relationships formed between teachers and students [on the VIPKid platform].”
The day’s agenda included breakout sessions—which covered a range of topics, including communicating with empathy across borders, authentic communication in online teaching and best practices for cultural exchange and engaging with students—where attendees had the chance to learn from VIPKid staff and network with other platform teachers.
Sonia Manzano, actor, screenwriter and author best known for her role as “Maria” on Sesame Street gave a keynote presentation about the importance of diversity, representation and her experiences engaging with children through the television screen.
“Using media to connect on a human level is certainly viable. The situation the world is in today certainly makes it worthwhile to connect with each other all over the world. And worldwide organizations, such as VIPKid, have a wonderful opportunity to do just that,” Manzano said during her remarks.
More than 20 thought leaders gave presentations throughout the day, including opening remarks from Carlos Watson, multi-Emmy-winning journalist, television host and founder and CEO of OZY, an international media and entertainment company. Attendees heard closing remarks from Zak Dychtwald, author and founder of Young China Group, an organization that provides insights about engaging with China’s millennial generation.
Dr. Jun Liu, VIPKid’s chief academic officer and founding president of VIPKid Research Institute shared insights from his new book, Teaching English Online to Young Learners: 100 FAQs, during his keynote address.
“The success of teaching English to young learners online requires extra sets of skills and strategies that embrace virtual re-imagination, reflective adaptation, and cultural empathy,” said Dr. Liu, as he reflected on the importance of the event dedicated to online educators.
Although this event was virtual, organizers re-created typical in-person Journey favorites for attendees to enjoy. There was a virtual photo booth where teachers on the platform could pose with the beloved VIPKid mascot, Dino; speed meeting and networking opportunities; expo booths; awards, and there was even a welcome gift with event-exclusive swag delivered to attendees prior to the event.
“As always Journey has renewed my spirit and love for teaching with VIPKid,” said Victoria Branchini, a veteran Journey attendee from Morris County, New Jersey. “Today was such a professional, enjoyable, and inspiring day to be part of.”
The event was equally invigorating for first-time attendees.
“This is my first Journey and it was exactly what I needed to reignite the fire in me as a teacher and a mom of virtual learners this year,” said Jasmin Gaumer-Bowden from Raleigh, North Carolina. “I am feeling inspired by the whole experience from the uplifting music to the wonderful speakers! What an amazing Journey this has been!”
VIPKid is a global education technology company that connects children with the world’s best teachers for real-time online education. VIPKid’s mission is to inspire and empower every child for the future. VIPKid envisions a global classroom that empowers students and teachers through personalized learning, connects cultures across the world and ignites a passion for lifelong learning. It believes that education is not one-size-fits-all, rather, all students are unique and the world is within their reach when connected with great teachers capable of personalizing learning and sparking curiosity. Founded in 2013 and formally launched in 2014, VIPKid has become China’s market-leading online education startup, attracting investment from Tencent, Coatue Management, Sequoia Capital, Sinovation Ventures, Yunfeng Capital, Matrix Partners, Learn Capital, Northern Light VC and Bryant Stibel, among others. The VIPKid platform currently connects over 800,000 students with approximately 100,000 teachers in the U.S. and Canada.