President of Estonia, Kersti Kaljulaid, moderated the online conference HITSA held with school students, teachers, education specialists and parents to jointly find solutions that would support remote learning.
Following the declaration of the state of emergency to prevent the spread of COVID-19, schools in Estonia had to switch to the remote-learning system on 16 March, and schools will remain closed until mid-April at the earliest.
President of Estonia, Kersti Kaljulaid, moderated the online conference that the Information Technology Foundation for Education (HITSA) held with school students, teachers, education specialists and parents. The conference focused on providing an overview of the first ten days of remote learning and on jointly looking for new solutions on the basis of the experience gained so far to facilitate remote learning.
In the opening speech at the beginning of the conference, Kersti Kaljulaid said that both teachers and parents had to perform at least two roles in this new situation: everyone was forced to adapt quickly to cope with supporting their children in remote learning and with their own work duties. “Even in the situation of remote learning, teaching can be left to teachers while parents can provide control and support. We have not been left out in the cold; let us look for support and sense of community in schools and wherever else we interact with people,” Kaljulaid highlighted positive aspects of learning in the times of the state of emergency.
- The online conference can be viewed here (English subititles).
Heli Aru-Chabilan, the head of the Information Technology Foundation for Education (HITSA), said that counselling had been provided to schools, and preparations for digital learning had been going on for years, but the year 2020 is of breakthrough importance. The number of users of e-learning platforms had increased by ten folds in the first two weeks of remote learning.
Solutions to have
the transition of Estonia to remote e-learning:
- Estonia’s substantial technological background. Estonian school students secured the first place in Europe in the worldwide PISA test in 2018. In addition, the number of start-ups per total population in Estonia is larger than in other countries.
- At the beginning of the remote learning period, HITSA collaborated with specialists in technology for education and counsellors to hold webinars meant for parents, teachers and principals. The webinar "How to support children’s remote learning", meant for parents and organised in collaboration with the Estonian Association of Specialists in Technology for Education, Innove and private sector companies, had the largest number of viewers.
- A great number of Estonian schools had already joined digital platforms for remote learning, and the number of their users has increased severalfold in the first two weeks of remote learning:
- the number of users of the freeware environment Moodle meant for creating e-learning courses has doubled;
- the number of users of the examination information system EIS has increased by 1.5 times;
- the number of users of HarID, an authentication solution for education e-services, has quadrupled;
- the number of users of the digital learning materials portal E-schoolbag has increased by 2.5 times.
- Specialists in technology for education have been providing ongoing support to teachers, parents and principals through the information line opened by HITSA and the Facebook groups created especially for supporting technology-based remote learning.
- As Russian is the mother tongue of a third of the population, webinars and supporting materials had also been prepared in Russian.
- Estonian edtech start-ups are offering their e-learning solutions free of charge to other states in the crisis situation.
HITSA communication manager
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