Sometimes, the cliché ‘think outside the box’ is not just a throw-away term, but it’s a necessity to overcome some major challenges. We worked hard to create the best experience possible under current restrictions. Escape’s ethos is about high contact time for feedback and guidance, so how could we keep that ‘contact’ is now often over a network? How do you build a community when it’s primarily virtual rather than physical? Our approach uses classes that are a mixture of in-studio and online – people study at the same pace – allowing the move to either fully online or fully in-studio at short notice.
To achieve this we needed tutors, studio assistants and tech support gurus all to work out how this would work in practice. It’s still not perfect and we’re learning as we go, but it’s great to see how everyone has approached this to make the best of it. It shows flexibility and resilience that will benefit everyone going forward, whatever the future holds. But how could we engage students in the Escape community, and ‘break the ice’ with new students? Luckily, I work with some smart people who came up with some great ideas. They decided to use Discord (which had been popular with staff and students last year) to create an online community for students. And when you have a team that you trust, even when they say “let’s play socially-distanced crazy golf” rather than say “are you mad” you think “OK, let’s see if that can work”. That’s what you get when you work with a great team. And that’s why we put such an emphasis on teamwork in our course.
The next time someone suggests something that may seem crazy, think how you could make it happen. It may just be genius at work.