Dear friends,

The Prague Spring is in full bloom, and normally this would be the busiest season of the year here at the CEELI Institute. I can report that we are all well here, and are mostly working remotely for the time being. For us, as for all of you, this has been a challenging time of quarantine, travel restrictions, and great uncertainty as to the long term return to “life as normal.”
At the Institute, we recognize that the new conditions will require new solutions. Accordingly, we have been diligently working on migrating our program content to online platforms, and to developing a “blended learning” approach that incorporates both online (distance learning) opportunities, and in-person program delivery, and which therefore allows maximum flexibility. We have explored a number of software platforms to identify the ones best suited to our programs, and have already begun delivering some program content online. We realize, however, that regardless of the platform used, the key to successful online delivery is to design programs that are flexible, easily adapted to on-the-ground realities, and that continue to encourage opportunities for interaction between and amongst faculty and participants.

Eventually, as travel restrictions relax, we hope to move to a combination of in-person engagement and distance learning. For our initial in-person sessions, we will employ a ‘flipped learning approach’ which involves pre-session reading materials or online lectures, so that the in-person program can continue from a significantly more advanced starting point. We expect that initial in-person programs here at the Villa will be for smaller groups from within the Czech Republic and from nearby countries. Needless to say, we are closely watching developments across Europe.
In sum, we believe that this “blended learning” approach enables maximum flexibility in delivering programs in an uncertain time. It allows us to move program components online if conditions preclude onsite delivery. It allows fine-tuning of the curriculum, materials, and style of delivery during the program based on identified new needs. And it allows us to easily revert to enhanced in-person delivery when conditions are right.
I am confident that when the time is right, we will all meet again, in person, at the Villa Grebovka.
Christopher Lehmann

Executive Director of the CEELI Institute