Cyprus Mail

Patchy use of online learning, but ministry says it’s pushing ahead

Photo (Philip Mark)

The ministry is trying to help students and teachers on several levels with e-learning in state schools, head of the Paedagogical Institute Athina Michaelidou told the Cyprus Mail on Monday.

“We are trying to support the students on two levels,” she explained. “We have uploaded educational material centrally on our website, not only for graduates but also for other students of secondary and primary schools. These are really useful and include exercises and leaflets.”

The ministry is also offering seminars for teachers on the use of Microsoft Teams, the shared online platform. Online courses are available for the students, and more will follow.

Schools have been asked to send weekly reports to the institute, so that problems can be evaluated.

Michaelidou said the challenges are not merely technological. The ministry has found that psychological support is also needed. Students and parents need contact with the teachers and with the ministry.

“More attention needs to be paid to how this live communication is done,” she said.

The institute has also been uploading examples of good practice for the central website.

One example is a cartoon for small children, showing them what the coronavirus is and how they can protect themselves from it. This will also be given to TV stations for dissemination.

The ministry has contacted the education ministry in Greece, which has agreed to share some of their material with Cyprus.

The problems with access to technology are being ironed out, Michaelidou added, saying that there will be help from banks and others, though it has not yet been decided how exactly this will be used. One possibility is handing out laptops to families.

Joanne Kyriacou, a mother with two children in a public school, told the Cyprus Mail that the teachers had contacted her to check what technology was in place in the household and how it was going to be shared.

“My older son who is in third grade in the lyceum has been in contact with most of his teachers for the exam subjects and has been told a timetable will be sent through tonight for lessons to begin Tuesday or Wednesday,” Kyriacou said, but she added that the scale of the system’s success depended very much on the individual teachers.

“Some of the teachers have been more engaged than others – he started a daily Greek lesson last week. Most were in contact via Facebook but from some he has heard nothing since the school closed. Dont they care?”

Some lessons in the gymnasium have also started with varying degrees of success, the mother reported.

“Google classroom seems to fizzle out and during a Skype lesson the teacher seemed to have difficulty making sure everyone in the group was present before starting. I guess there is a learning curve. There was certainly a lot more of kicking a ball around in my house this morning than I should imagine goes on in an actual classroom!”

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