Smart Talk is an educational institution for adults with its main focus on language teaching. They provide courses in five languages – the chief language is German, but they also have a big department for English, French, Spanish with a sub-brand, and Italian. They also conduct very broad courses in basic competencies – writing and reading in German, information technologies, and mathematics. Smart Talk also provides courses to companies and private lessons, mostly for languages. They also work with institutions such as the Migration Department in Lucerne, the Department for Unemployment, etc.
Their customers are mainly people from Central Switzerland – they have one physical school in Lucerne, where they are teaching people coming from up to 25 km away. Their students are between 25 and 65 years old and they have almost the same amount of students in all age groups. They have activities both in-presence at their school and online.
How Smart Talk started using VEDAMO Virtual Classroom?
Smart Talk was founded in 2016. They are based in Lucerne and rely on flexibility and direct contact with their learners. During the pandemic, they needed to change all their courses to online. They found VEDAMO just before the lockdown – when they saw that in other countries the public life shut down and wanted to prepare for this situation.
Smart Talk chose VEDAMO after thorough online research. They were looking for the following key points:
- A software solution that is dedicated to teaching and can be used for workshops which is very similar to their setting. The main focus was to find a virtual classroom with an interactive whiteboard.
- To be a school solution – as they had about 50 teachers, they needed a system that can be set up by the administrator and only provide access to the teachers. They did not want to let the teachers register by themselves and needed to have full control over the system.
- A virtual classroom, which does not require any installation.
The transition to online teaching was very easy for Smart Talk. It was Friday and they knew they needed a solution right then. They started working with VEDAMO because it provided all the key factors they were seeking. On Monday the lockdown was a fact and they already had everything set up. One hour later they sent out information to all the teachers and students. The first classes started half an hour later.
How they use VEDAMO now
After the pandemic, some Smart Talk’s courses continued online, and others returned to the physical school. Now they still use VEDAMO on a daily basis. It allows their learners to access online classes from wherever they are. This is a huge benefit for companies, where people work remotely or when they have multiple locations in which their employees are split up. VEDAMO Virtual Classroom is also very often used for private students, especially those who travel a lot. Most of them do a physical class once a month and then they continue with three classes online. This type of mix is the most preferred.
The feedback from Smart Talk teachers
The teachers share that they like doing online classes. They like VEDAMO because it is very easy-to-use. They appreciate the fact that they can prepare very well for their online classes – they have the option to set up all their materials one day in advance, using the session templates. When the online class starts, the teacher needs only 1 minute to upload the lesson content. They do not need to change rooms or use additional textbooks and it is very easy for them. Thus, the teachers save time and can schedule more classes in one day.
Usually, the Smart Talk teachers create presentations with the teaching material for their online lessons in PowerPoint or PDF. They also use audio files and the screen sharing tool to give the students input to the learning platform that comes with the student book.
The feedback from Smart Talk students
The students like that VEDAMO is very accessible and easy-to-use. In the beginning, the Smart Talk team was planning to prepare pre-training sessions with the students. After they started using VEDAMO, they found out that such kind of technical preparation is not needed, because there were not any issues with students using the virtual classroom.
Florian Rieder, Smart Talk Manager shares:
We are very happy to use VEDAMO because it is very dedicated to the solutions that we need. The virtual classroom provides the features we need and not much more. It is not complicated, it is not overloaded. The teachers use almost all the features in every online class they have – the breakout rooms, the file upload, the possibility to display pdfs, the possibility to upload audio and video files, and the tool to highlight or mark things on the whiteboard. They have the features they need and these features are working easily and fast.