AK: Universities mainly using remote learning when spring semester starts

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Estonia University of Life Sciences (Eesti Maaülikool) in Tartu, one of the higher education institutions conducting most of its teaching remotely, once the spring semester starts. Source: Kairit Prits/Eesti Maaülikool

Higher education institutions in Estonia are to start the spring semester using remote, online learning, for the most part, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Friday night.

At present, most students are preparing for or taking exams, which will also mostly be online, but the spring semester proper starts in a matter of weeks, AK said.

Tallinn University (TLÜ) says it will generally make use of remote learning, at least to March end, while Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) says the procedure will be remote learning for the first two weeks, followed by in-house lectures, up to a maximum 50 percent capacity, if the coronavirus rate in the capital starts to fall.

University of Tartu follows suit

The University of Tartu is to follow similar methodologies, focusing on remote learning, Vice-Rector for Studies Aune Valk told AK.

Valk said: "Students inevitably move around, not only across Estonia, but also around the world. They study different subjects, in different institutes, which means contacts between a very large number of people. This is the main reason [for the remote learning policy."

Tartu has a lower infection rate than Tallinn, but still posts double-figure cases on a daily basis, at least across Tartu County.

The continuation of remote learning is not without its challenges, however, Valk said, with technical issues, the requirement to adapt to a new means of learning and issues surround isolation being the main ones.

Challenges for more physically-based courses

Professor Anneli Saro at the University of Tartu told AK that: "Those of our lecturers who work here in Tartu can, I believe, do a little better. But our field also includes the Viljandi Academy of Culture, where there are many practical specialties, including for actors, musicians, dancers and so on. It is clear that it is very difficult for instruction in such professions … where physical presence and training are important."

On the other hand, this did not amount to anything like an overall decline in studying and results, Ina Järve, head of study at the Estonia University of Life Sciences (Eesti Maaülikool) in Tartu sold AK.

She said: "Naturally, there are also those for whom distance learning is not so suitable and can not do so well, there is definitely dissatisfaction in this respect. However, everyone understands that the situation is difficult and difficult, it is better to find solutions how we can continue and take advantage of not that we should remain in the wait-and-see attitude that what will happen now."

Exceptions to the remote learning rule include internships, AK reported, while primary and secondary school students can now attend school following the easing of national restrictions; in practice schools are often providing a combination of in-person and online learning.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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