For the further development of the education system and for it to be able to change and adapt as needed, it would make sense to transfer the teaching work of all Estonian schools to one of the world’s leading virtual learning platforms, Mart Habakuk, the chancellor of the Estonian Business School, thinks.
Habakuk feels this would not only leave the country’s schools better placed to deal with emergency situations – such as the one happening now in the form of the coronavirus crisis – but also simplify the sharing of best practice between teachers and schools and enable students to access rapidly evolving virtual learning solutions.
“From our first weeks of distance learning, we can see very clearly just how different the level of preparedness has been between schools in Estonia to implement digital studies,” Habakuk said. “The wide range of resources available for virtual studies has caused a great deal of confusion. Critical software choices for virtual schooling were made by schools or teachers, many of which and whom lacked the experience and competence necessary to make such choices and the time to make informed decisions. This resulted in people wasting time and becoming frustrated when faced with choosing between the dozens of resources and solutions on offer.”
“In developing the Estonian education system, we would take a big step forward if we made the transition throughout the country to one of the world’s foremost open, cloud-based virtual learning platforms – which can be translated into Estonian and with which everything needed can be easily integrated: content produced in Estonia and elsewhere and e-courses, while also taking into account the differences that exist between schools,” according to Habakuk.
An environment for everything the students need
“The state of emergency has provided the opportunity to adopt across all schools and education levels one of the best virtual learning platforms in the world, and to plan and implement this major step before the start of the next academic year. An effective resource is also a doffing of the hat to the work of teachers, who need professional IT support now more than ever.”
Habakuk says his school, the Estonian Business School, “is in a position to share its experience. It took us almost half a year to choose a contemporary virtual learning platform, but thankfully we made this choice back in 2017.”
“By contemporary virtual learning platform, I mean an environment in which students can find everything they need: a calendar, the learning outcomes, the study programme, the teaching materials, feedback options, assessment, group discussions, recorded lectures, recommended reading and more.”
No additional software
“An environment in which they can do virtual group work during classes, ask questions, make notes in electronic teaching materials, take tests and exams and upload homework; a place where the teacher can monitor the progress of the students’ independent work, share answers to any questions that come up and access everything they need for teaching (and everything the students need for studying) from their mobile phones, tablets and computers.”
“In practice, this meant that after the decision last week to make the transition to virtual studies, none of the students or teaching staff at the Estonian Business School had to install and learn to use a single new piece of software or make any changes to their timetables,” he says.
“Lectures, seminars and workshops are all taking place at the scheduled times and to the planned volume, and all of them can be watched back. The 100% transition to virtual studies of the 1,400 students at our university and the 120 students at our secondary school was effected in both Tallinn and Helsinki in just one day without the need for any external assistance.”
The Estonian Business School is the oldest private university in the country. A total of 1,400 students study at the university at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels.
Cover: Mart Habakuk, the chancellor of the Estonian Business School.