A regulation was published in the Journal of Laws, pursuant to which schools, kindergartens, and preschools were closed throughout the country between March 16 and 25, 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak. The purpose of the special act is to halt the spread of the epidemic. On Friday, March 13, the prime minister announced that educational facilities would be closed until Easter. However, the situation changes day by day, and nobody seems to know when the children will return to school. The government has recommended the implementation of a distance learning curriculum. Is it possible to introduce effective e-learning in schools in Poland?
E-learning: the Government’s vision vs. reality
As it turns out, introducing an educational revolution in such a short time is not easy. After the introduction of the special act, school principals were asked to check whether the institution was able to utilize distance learning (communication with teachers, students, and parents via the Internet, preparing the remote implementation of curricula while considering the different needs of the students, remote monitoring, and the assessment of students’ progress). The Ministry of National Education has prepared widely available materials and tips for distance learning. Furthermore, the Ministry of Digitization and NASK (Research and Academic Computer Network) have implemented a platform with distance teaching ideas, incorporating the old and new core curriculum. The platform is divided into three domains: for teachers, students, and parents. Some principals are afraid, however, that making the platform accessible to all parties and overcoming technical problems take time—especially when time is of the essence.
Tools provided by the Ministry of Education
The Ministry of Digitization has provided a helpful guide to organizing classes for students. In sync with the Government, the guide proposes three types of teacher-student communication:
- electronic diary;
- school website;
- email, also addressed to parents.
Children can use educational materials: e-textbooks, the “Connect to Poland” online manual plus the requiredreading.gov.pl portal listing the required reading items. Finally, on the Government website, the Ministry of National Education has launched a website containing e-learning classes (prepared for each day of the week, for each age group). Among the solutions being considered by the Ministry of National Education there is also an educational band on TVP run by teachers, but it has not been embraced by the teachers due to the obvious lack of interaction between students and teachers.
E-learning vs. legal norms
Legal provisions stating that students should switch to e-learning at the time of a school closure had not been prepared in advance. Until now, e-learning has been directed only at students outside the country. Another problem is the teaching staff’s lack of training.
The relevant legal standards had previously only been established for higher education: many universities have been regularly using effective e-learning platforms for years.
Parental dislike and lack of motivation in students
Another factor is the parents’ lack of enthusiasm about the solutions introduced. Currently, teachers send a list of topics and tasks to be carried out by e-journal or e-mail. This poses a big problem for parents: they are anxious about their new role and they are not exactly keen on working through the material with their child. Also, there was no previous attempt to verify whether each parent has the capacity to check the materials sent by teachers on an ongoing basis. The situation also discourages and demotivates the students themselves. Moreover, not all students have regular access to a computer with high-speed Internet in order to use e-learning on a daily basis.
Too many faults and shortcomings
In short, the Polish teaching system is not ready to be a school fit for the 21st century. Instead of an instant response and a smooth transition to e-learning, we have seen chaos and a total lack of guidance. Sadly, the possibilities of e-learning could have been utilized much earlier…
What should e-learning look like in Polish schools?
Most likely, we can all agree that e-learning at Polish schools is not the e-learning we expect in this day and age. Meanwhile, technological opportunities are constantly evolving, and a suitably adapted system should provide each student with individual access to a platform with material this is consistent with the curriculum. Such solutions have been used in business for a long time.
The idea is that for each student, after logging into an individual account on the educational platform, online lessons would be prepared, with interesting content, quizzes, and tests to check the student’s knowledge – developed and designed by e-learning specialists, using modern and effective teaching techniques. Teachers would be able to monitor their students’ progress via the platform. Parents would not have to be involved in preparing the material. Additionally, with the use of video conferencing, chat groups, and messengers, teachers would be in constant contact with their students.
The market offers many solutions that would allow for a seamless transition of the education system to remote learning. Such an approach would not only guarantee the repetition and fostering consolidation of the material, but also the possibility to acquire completely new knowledge. Classes could be much more interesting and unrestricted by time, making the learning process highly individualized and thus more effective. Animations, interactive audio, and video materials are just examples of how you can make learning more attractive and at the same time interesting for your student by using non-standard teaching methods and encouraging engagement with multimedia interaction.
Was it really necessary for us to face a pandemic outbreak to realize that the Polish teaching system had not yet entered the 21st century? This is our last opportunity to finally revolutionize education, not just to for times of crisis and epidemics. E-learning in Poland could prove useful in many other situations, for example, for students in individual learning programs, or those with disabilities or chronic diseases who cannot always attend school. We have been helping companies switch to e-learning for almost 18 years. If you need more information about online learning, please contact