Estonia is to support other countries' digital education efforts during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the Ministry of Education and Research announced Monday morning. This includes making a variety of e-education tools, something the country is noted as a leading light in, available internationally.
"Who isn't afraid of digital education?" said Mart Laidmets, Ministry of Education and Research Secretary General said, according to a ministry press release.
"Learning and teaching digitally are challenging even under normal circumstances. However, during the COVID-19 outbreak, digital schooling is the only option," he added.
All Estonian schools have been closed from Monday, March 16 until further notice following a government announcement late last week and part of its emergency situation package of measures in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Schoolchildren are continuing their studies remotely, primarily via the Estonian-developed eKool platform.
"In Estonia, we make ICT work for education, we have a number of solutions that fully support distance learning. We are ready to share Estonia's best practices and solutions with the countries in need. After all, providing education is essential for a sustainable society," Laidmets added.
"A number of tools are being prepared for international usage, and the companies developing these tools have also kindly agreed to support other countries in need. The aim of this initiative is to support distance learning and work in the education sector during this time of crisis. The aim of these solutions is to increase the social aspect of distance learning and do their best to motivate learners," said Märt Aro, Co-Founder, with the European Commission, of the European EdTech Alliance.
Aro said that thanks to Estonia's general adoption of digital technologies, the country's education sector naturally has a set of tools which support remote learning, for adults as well as children. The tools are typically developed via cooperation between schools, universities, and the private sector.
Co-founder of the Good Deed Education Fund as well as ride-hailing app Bolt, Martin Villig, added that: "Estonia is globally known for its digital government services, and, thanks to these solutions, the country is somewhat better prepared for this crisis. I am humbled to see companies coming to support schools and universities this quickly, and also organizing free webinars to support educators in achieving the best possible results."
Many solutions have been developed covering different education aspects, including the following, many of which are free to use and many of which will run to the end of the school year:
- eKool: School management system, which is offering a free subscription for new schools until the end of the school year. As noted eKool is the platform Estonian schoolchildren are using from Monday, March 16, to facilitate their own studies while off school due to the virus. The platform had already been in widespread use prior to the virus spread.
- Lingvist.com: A language learning platform which is opening up to schools for free through to the end of the school year.
- Speakly.me: A language learning innovation, which is opening its web and mobile applications up to schools for free until the end of the school year.
Maths and sciences
- 99math.com (link in Estonian): A math platform which has developed a special version to bring learners together virtually. It is free to use and is to organize daily webinars for teachers.
- Eliis: a childcare software company which is offering free subscription and online training until the end of summer, for all kindergartens who wish to start using it.
- ALPA Kids: Early education learning platform, also offering its content for free. The company says it is also happy to carry out localization for any country with a suitable partner.
Teachers, admissions and other solutions
- DreamApply: A European-leading online student admission solution., which is launching a rapidly deployable (within two to three days) e-admission & remote work system for higher education institutions, with free usage this spring and summer.
- Clanbeat.com: A virtual teachers' room which is offering its services for free until the end of the school year, and will organize webinars to help schools engender strong virtual communities among their school staff.
- Tutor.id: connects tutors and students in all subjects – be they school-related or "soft" skills. Tutor.id has waived all its fees until the end of the school year.
A full list of internationally available educational tools is available here.
The initiative is supported by Startup Estonia and co-organized by the Ministry of Education and Research, The Estonian Union of Educational Technologists, the Good Deed Education Fund, education promoters Innove, the Information Technology Foundation for Estonia (HITSA), and Education Nation, part of the e-Estonia portal.
Estonia placed first in Europe in the most recently release PISA tests, the international education gold standard.
Editor: Andrew Whyte