Online Schooling in Croatia Due to Coronavirus: A Teacher's Viewpoint

By 19 March 2020

March 19, 2020 - Online schooling in Croatia has replaced regular school for an initial two weeks due to the coronavirus crisis. Some reflections from the viewpoint of a dedicated teacher. 

 When a letter arrived from the Ministry of Science and Education last week to start distance education in Istria from Monday, we knew what was waiting for us in other parts of Croatia.

We quickly decided on which platform to use for online teaching at our school, added students and teachers to virtual classes, lent tablets and mobile cards to students from low-income families so that everyone could successfully follow classes with the help of ICT.

Helping each other out, we prepared first-hand teaching materials and devised backup plans and strategies to work from home every day. New circumstances imposed new rules and made us turn into teachers on the other side of the screen overnight.

Unfortunately, many colleagues from other schools still need to be present at schools in their workplaces. These are still unbelievable instructions by competent ministry directors. Every presentation, departure, and commute to work increases the risk of infection, and someone above us just can't figure it out.

And while one education adviser says 150,000 students have forgotten their passwords and crashed virtual platforms that students cannot log in to, it is simply a well-known situation that we teachers relive year after year, for example, when printing student certificates. And while they boast that we do so much better than other wealthier countries, I have to admit that I'm not so sure about that. My colleagues in Norway tell me that they have no problems with logging in to the system all day. A colleague from Turkey is surprised that in this situation, we are still required to be at work. They, too, are tired just like us, but at least their education ministers do not tell them that they have to come to school to learn to work online and, in collaboration with colleagues, be better prepared to work from home.

In communication with students, I see how frustrated many are that they are unsuccessfully trying to login to a system that has never been designed to handle such traffic and workload. My cellphone rings and messages come from all over, and I just can't help the students and their parents with any login issues. I try to calm them down, as always, and as the days go by, we will already get used to these existing problems.

Fortunately, I work in two small schools where we continue to encourage each other and share experiences, just as we do in teaching groups on social networks where we are from all over Croatia. We are aware that online teaching will not be as good as teaching in normal circumstances, but we do our best.

Although behind-the-scenes, friendly, kind and willing to help, we're still here for our students who may miss a class (be it on TV or in a virtual classroom), but we're sure everyone will get more important life lessons not written down in school books.

The views expressed in this article are solely mine and do not represent the views of either of the two schools in which I work.

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