I am Dhurata Myrtollari, an Albanian language teacher in lower secondary education in Tirana, Albania. I am also an ambassador for the Scientix and eTwinning network. I have followed for 5 years trainings offered by Scientix and eTwinning. During this time, I have also been part of Edmodo which is a platform that provides very helpful tools to communicate and collaborate online with students, parents, and school staff.
Initially, I started to use this platform for two main reasons, first because I noticed that my students liked to use technology but they wasted a lot of time on social media or playing games. That had no learning benefit to them so I wanted to lead them to use this time for education and in beneficial ways instead. I ended up finding out that online tools are a great way to stay connected to them even after school hours.
Due to the situation with COVID-19 pandemic both students and teachers are experiencing a transition from school classes to online classes. For the first time in Albania, online learning is taking place with students of pre-university education. The Ministry of Education directed the school’s staff all over the country to continue the learning and teaching processes online. This situation was difficult in the first weeks: most of the teachers had never used before an online tool or engaged with their students online for learning reasons. Misinformation about the many opportunities that exist online was all over the place.
This also meant that their students were probably unaware of these opportunities as well. However already difficult, this was not the whole problem: not all students have access to computers, phones, or the internet. Making the circumstances even more challenging.
But I shall remember that this is only one side of the coin. On the other, fortunately, is that in Albania there are approximately 4000 teachers that have followed trainings from Scientix and eTwinning ambassadors and have been familiarized with several online platforms. These teachers were the first ones to help alleviate the situation. Scientix and eTwinning provide free platforms to create training sessions for a given audience. The Ambassadors used, and continue using this support to provide training sessions online that help other teachers to learn to use online tools. Preparing them to be able to use these tools to reach their students.
Moreover, in order to solve the problem of means of access for students, the Ministry of Education took a decision to create and offer courses accessible to every student on national television. Like many other teachers involved, I am also part of this experience.
Based on the feedback I have received from my students, teacher, and parents; I believe that many people have overcome countless difficulties since the situation started. Teachers now feel comfortable teaching online, students are also becoming more and more involved and engaged in the process, demonstrating independence and engagement. Parents have also become more confident in the expected results of this process for their children.
In addition, some of the tools that I use to collaborate with my students are Padlet, Quizz, Kahoot, Mentimeter, etc. But these may vary for other teachers and their class depending on the subject and the purpose of collaboration.
I highly recommend that technology and online learning should be an integral part of the everyday learning approach. I defend that teachers keep on using the smart support of such tools and programs that contribute to the development of students of all levels. The smart collaboration and use of technology for teaching should not only be for these unusual periods that we are facing. I have seen firsthand that the proper use of technology in the learning process can bring a lot of learning benefits and also a great deal of engagement from students.
Author: Dhurata Myrtollari, Scientix Ambassador