How homeschooling performs - Experience of the first 4 days from an education expert’s perspective

Schools have been shut since Monday. Teachers, students and parents had to adapt to the new situation in record time. Please find a summary of the first 4 days by teacher Balázs Koren, Head of Telenor’s HiperSuli program. 

1.      Schools and teachers responded fast, children were not appropriately informed 

After the initial shock, teachers responded fast – during the weekend. The first step of the lightning-fast transition was to assess the devices and internet access children and families have at home and select the platform and format that can be used for remote education. In many schools, the entire first week was devoted to this task. “Most schools were experimenting during the weekend. Then the staff got together on Monday and started developing and standardising the new operating environment. This was more difficult for schools where the system had to be set up from scratch. Schools that had used digital platforms and online tools before, like the over 30 HiperSuli schools, could continue teaching with less hiccups,” said Balázs Koren who believe that the greatest problem was the lack of preparation time that prevented schools and teachers from properly informing children of the next steps. 

2.      Managing contact as a new task 

Until know, classroom education had three phases: sharing new knowledge, doing exercises and testing. In this extraordinary situation, managing contact between teachers and students is a new requirement. What was simply natural in the classroom can now be managed only using new tools. “This week was about finding the suitable online tools and learn how to use them with students. Many teachers spent the past 4 days identifying ways of maintaining contact with their students and they are still trying to use analogue methods for the other three phases of education. In the next weeks and months, the success of digital education will also depend on how flexibly we can make the transition and how well we can use the opportunities provided by the new situation,” said Balázs Koren. 

3.      Timetable or freedom 

45-minute classes have loosened up, time boundaries are getting increasingly blurred. “This aspect is also in the stage of transition. It seems that few teachers insist on keeping the timetable and 45-minute classes. This would not be feasible in the current situation, anyway. There are no boundaries now. If a student is motivated, they can spend a lot more time with a given subject and learning is not confined to the textbook,” said Balázs Koren.

4.      Difficulties of evaluation: how to give marks?

The only thing everybody is helpless about is evaluation. “It is too early to tell at this stage what to do. In this environment, you don’t have the same level of control as in the classroom. The main motive of studying, that is, bad marks for poor performance, doesn’t work as effectively as in the traditional school setup,” said Balázs Koren who considers this to be a key challenge of the new situation.

5.      Maximum support to all 

Hardly any of the more than 300 Hipersuli teachers asked for help but several of them proactively offered to share their experience or give advice to those who need it. At an online teachers’ meeting attended by 80 people on Monday, each request was met by at least 10 people offering their help. Most participants agreed that going digital is a huge professional challenge, yet it is not a mission impossible. The HiperSuli teachers’ community took the initiative right after the closing of schools was announced last Friday: in one day’s time, they developed their guidelines for online education. They’ve published a document with their recommendations for parents and teachers available at http://hipersuli.hu/tavoktatas and also in the recommended content list of the Educational Authority. After the document was uploaded, the traffic of the website hipersuli.hu increased twentyfold. Additional recommendations and articles for teachers and parents are being posted on this website on an ongoing basis. 

Our latest recommendations on how to help your child study at home: https://hipersuli.hu/hogyan-tanuljunk-a-gyerekkel-tavoktatas-idejen/ 
Some tips for the devices to be used at home: https://hipersuli.hu/milyen-eszkozt-hasznaljak-otthon-tanulasra/