The country that’s digitally ready for remote learning this September
The United Nations have issued a warning that mass school closures that seem to be on the horizon due to COVID-19 threats could lead to a generational catastrophe, indicating that a return to classrooms should be prioritized.
Many parents worldwide are experiencing anxiety about the unfavourable options presented to them this September – be that facing another period of involved homeschooling, or sending children to school where they run an increased risk of exposure to the virus.
One exception to this education-based anxiety is Latvia.
Latvia has long-since implemented various digital communications tools, as well as was quick to develop remote classrooms during the first COVID-19 lockdown period. As a result, if schools are scheduled to open or not, parents are spared the extent of uncertainty that their counterparts in other countries are subject to.
Systems already in place include e-klase and Mycoob, competing platforms that digitize parent-teacher interaction, as well as homework assigning and assignment submission. These platforms provide the necessary guidance for pupils about the topics that should be learned, homework that should be completed, supporting materials to complete said homework, as well as feedback to both students and parents.
Edurio, the feedback and engagement platform, has adjusted its services to support students, as well as educational personnel, during the trying COVID-19 period. This has helped educational institutions better understand student requirements for improved home-classroom engagement, as well as how to better support teachers navigating new waters.
Two linear television channels for schools were developed in record time during the first lockdown period. The project, known as TavaKlase, was built in three weeks and featured filmed classroom content for primary school-aged children. The content allowed children to be guided through lessons as they would be in classes. This project was lauded by the OECD as one of the best educational projects in the world during the pandemic. The platform is also available to other countries for rapid implementation of their own linear educational channels.
Alternative education has also flourished. As the “country that sings”, it is no coincidence that these platforms are mostly related to music. Solfeg.io offers remote music lessons, teaching both children and adults music theory and how to play their favourite songs on a new instrument of their choice. Meanwhile, Koklu Mezs is a newly-developed platform that teaches anyone worldwide how to play the kokle – an ancient instrument native only to Latvia.
Students generally had responded well to remote learning that the first lockdown wave prompted. On the whole, in national final exams, students did better in most subjects compared to previous years, particularly in math, physics, English, and French. With an extensive array of digital tools to alleviate remote learning, parents in Latvia experience significantly less stress than those in other countries, and even thriving under the new conditions. Many of these platforms were already available during the first lockdown, and therefore the prospect of potential future home-learning is not as daunting as elsewhere.