Ave Paasikivi from Kuresaare Ametikool in Estonia is working away from the office like most of us these days. ” I actually like it quite a lot! As Kuressaare is the corona epicentre of Estonia I moved at the very beginning to our summer cottage which is on a small island called Vilsandi. It’s the first spring I have the possibility to witness the spring arriving in full.” For Kuresaare college staf there have been busy weeks and very busy weeks. The biggest challenge has been to stay inside and work even when the weather has been good and the work load smaller. “We are allowed to work at our own pace – so I can work in the mornings and evenings and enjoy the day outside. I do, however, miss my office equipment – the printer and the copy machine 😃. So probably one day I have to go back to the office…” Right now the decision is that those who can work from home will do it till end of this school year. “My best tip for remote working is to create your own daily routine and follow it. Otherwise, keep a positive mind and try to enjoy the coming of spring.” Ave also appreciates her supportive friends and colleagues who have made it easier to make the best out of this unexpected situation.
Kuresaare Ametikool switched to distance learning on 16 March and it has gone surprisingly well. The school year had been planned in such a way most of the practical lessons were more or less already over and they are finding providing more theoretical studies from the distance fairly easy. “Our school is using Office 365 and it’s facilities mostly, but of course every teacher has their own favourite tools, too. “ In some curricula there have been lot of online learning already before. The situation has been challenging for some students as Kuresaare college also has a lot of adult students who have children and work. “It’s been pretty hard to handle children, work and school work for them, but by now things have more of less settled, I believe, ” says Ave. “And of course it has been hard also for some teachers who maybe had less experience in using digital tools. We’ve also learned that online teaching needs very clear planning as well.” Kuresaare Ametikool have also provided both students and staff with computers and technical support.
“We still have some courses which have to finish their practical work at the school, so we hope that we can start limited contact lessons from 18 May.” Another challenge is how to manage the company placements as most companies are closed. “We hope that things are going to be better soon and everybody is able to do their placements by autumn.” Right now they are hoping that all groups who should graduate this term, could do so by the end of June.
“Last week we had the traditional Health Week at the school so we published training, cooking and psychology videos on our Facebook page and those were really popular.” What they have learned from this experience is that actually everything is possible and maybe for some courses they will use more distance learning even when things are back to normal.
“I really hope that there will be no long term impact for our international activities. We just have to learn how to live with this new reality.” Kuresaare college had to cancel almost 30 student and staff mobilities for this spring term but everyone of them still want to go as soon as it’s possible. “I also had to bring back more than 20 students from abroad earlier than planned, which is really pity – but I hope at least some can go back and continue at a later date.”
And finally Ave would like to remind us to “be healthy, be positive, the show will go on, just the rules have changed. ” 😀