Ministry of Science and Education Republic of Croatia, March 2020. For the Ministry: minister prof. Blaženka Divjak, PhD
The basic principle of online teaching is that the content and the learning have to be made accessible to all students, regardless of the conditions at home and the support provided by teachers in the first week of online teaching, when the students were getting used to a new form of classwork. Lower primary school students (6 to 10 years) are especially vulnerable in this situation because they do not communicate with their teachers directly, but through their parents.
The School on Channel 3 programme of online classes will ensure that all learning outcomes are achieved by the end of the school year. We are aware that some students have already achieved some of the learning outcomes while some are lagging behind, and it is the teachers’ job to make up for the differences in pace.
The goal of the first week of online classes was that students adapt to the new methods of teaching and learning. Thus, the content provided was simple and fun. Starting from the second week already, the content will be aimed at achieving the planned learning outcomes, without additional entertaining content. The programme will be aired in the morning with a rerun in the afternoon. This is meant to provide students with free time for exercises and homework given by their teachers.
We will publish the content to be covered by the School on Channel 3 the day before, to give teachers time to prepare.
We repeat: the lower primary students need to watch the Croatian National Television Channel 3 (the School on Channel 3) during airtime, or on YouTube, and access online materials on the School for Life website.
The teachers need to provide a communication channel for parents (e-mail, Viber, WhatsApp or some other) through which they will offer guidance for students.
Communicating with their parents, the teachers will instruct children to perform tasks such as reading a text, drawing or calculating something, or talking to parents on a topic. The tasks can, but do not have to be, connected to the School on Channel 3 content. Parents or caregivers are obliged to communicate teachers’ instructions to the children and then monitor their work as much as possible, and they can ask teachers or other professional school staff for additional guidance.
The subject content for upper primary and secondary schools is also aired on TV (SPTV and RTL2), and can also be accessed on the Ministry and School for Life websites. Video materials are prepared for 5 subjects each day.
If subject teachers, especially secondary school subject teachers, prepare their own content and communicate regularly with students, the students do not necessarily have to follow the Ministry’s schedule.
We are using the opportunity to warn the teachers that if students follow the national schedule only, they will not have the required number of contact hours in all subjects. It is thus essential that teachers create their own content to achieve the necessary number of contact hours in each subject. This is especially important now that we know that students will not be able to go back to schools for at least a month.
We invite all teachers to record the content and submit their successful 15-minute video lessons on: [email protected] as we are planning to enable others to use them too. We will need over 300 video lessons per week.
In agreement with parents, the class teacher and the school principal and according to the evaluation of students’ capabilities, you can set up a virtual classroom. In this respect, it is crucial that the parents provide their consent as regards direct communication with students, and that the class teacher provides evaluation regarding the students’ adequate level of digital skills and the possessing of necessary equipment.
When assigning tasks to students it is important to take into account their suitability to the students’ age and capabilities. In case you have already been working on developing the digital competences of students and your students know how to record and send a video, the assigning of such a task makes sense. Otherwise, this might pose a problem to both students and parents.
The first two weeks of distance learning are intended for all students and teachers to adapt to the new working methods. Also, during this period it is important to monitor students and provide them with instructions on how to learn in virtual environment. Assessing and grading in virtual environment in which learning is carried out according to the asynchronous model should be carried out in tailor-made forms in relation to models in the physical classroom.
Assessing and grading in virtual environment have certain differences when compared to those carried out in the classroom, when the teacher and student are physically in the same place and when direct synchronous communication is possible, thus making it more easy to check the correctness of answers and protect against cheating, illegal copying and similar. It is therefore necessary to adapt both oral examinations (reduce their number and scope) and written examinations (routine tasks are mainly used for self-assessment and peer assessment).
At the same time, a step towards assessing more complex task forms should be made (project work, essay, small-scale research work, problem-solving tasks etc.) which do not require direct supervision and control of students, but which on the other hand enable students to achieve learning outcomes and go through an interesting process of producing solutions. The guidelines and examples of assessment will be available at the beginning of April. Should you have any useful examples, we invite you to send them to us.
According to the MSE schedule, the teaching of compulsory subjects takes place during the first week, and materials for the teaching of elective subjects have also been designed and will be made available to everyone via a link in the schedule on the MSE webpage. Also, there is the possibility within the schedule every day to prepare at least one additional lesson organised by school. Video lessons can be found on the School for Life webpage.
Teachers themselves decide on the type of materials that are to be used and/or additionally prepared according to the needs of their class and subject. It should be at the same time taken into account that it is necessary to provide the adequate amount of working materials, as well as communication with students so as to provide them with feedback and learning instructions. Video material is not required in this case, but it is recommended. The aim is to ensure that students are learning actively, with teachers individualising their support.