Sweden, Estonia, and Finland: Lessons on the Laptop

Also in the far north of Europe, most schools have closed due to the Coronavirus. But lessons are continuing on the laptop in Sweden, Finland and Estonia. But this not only has advantages.

Written by Sofie Donges, ARD-Studio Stockholm

Matthias Burghart has not seen his students in three days. The German is a teacher of religion and philosophy in Estonia. Schools are closed, but lessons continue – at home on the laptop:

“I sit down in the morning and write long letters to my students,” says Burgardt. “Send them what we want to learn in the lesson. There is also a timetable that I send out at the start of the week and then ask them questions and provide them with the materials.”

Estonia’s schools have always been digital

This isn’t entirely new to him, because the homework has been done, corrected and graded here via an online portal for years. As early as the late 1990s, Estonia placed great emphasis on digital expansion. This is now paying off in the crisis.

Every now and then, however, the system vibrates a little, because there hasn’t been a stress test like this: 153,000 kids are currently logging in from home.

Distance learning in Sweden

The Swedes also decided to close the school for students in grade 10 – but of course lessons continue here as well. The Swedish student is divided:

“It’s really nice not to have to go to school and to be able to work at home,” he says. “But at some point it will definitely get boring, and getting information on the network is more difficult than direct communication.”

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The Swedish school authorities have put up an information page for teachers on the Internet: here you can find tips for successful distance learning as well as a lot of digital teaching materials. They should also use the hashtag “Skula Hema” – “School at Home” – to share ideas on social networks and spread examples across the country.

Computers do not replace teachers

Swedes are ambitious. Peter Fredrickson, the school’s chairman, says anything that isn’t managed in times of crisis is still not on the table under the table: “There is a set time for teaching, and if it’s not committed now, then you have to redo it. It could be afternoon, on Weekend or during the actual holiday season. “

Even if the Nordic countries always take a numerical step ahead of the Germans: here too, the lessons will not be able to continue smoothly in times of Coronavirus. Computers cannot replace teachers in everything, says Jaco Salou of the Finnish Teachers’ Union:

“You must not forget that students are very different. If you give assignments, for example, the challenge will be that some students can work completely independently. But we have students in every class who always need help.”

See you via video conference

The school is not just about transferring materials, the school is much more than that. The digitally developed Nordic countries are also thinking about this. Finnish Education Minister Lee Anderson pointed out that for some children, school is the only place where they can get a hot meal.

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Again in Burghardt in Estonia. On the weekend, there’s a first showing of him: He’ll see his class again if all goes well: “On the weekend, there is a video conference in which I invite all of my 25 students on the course to the video room. We want to do that. Then let’s see if he works. But the school authorities are completely comfortable. They say, ‘If it doesn’t work, then we learn from it and try to do it the next time he works.’

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