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Distance Education in Hungary Has Started as Digital Practises Still Being Developed

Péter Cseresnyés 2020.03.16.

Schools were closed on Monday to prevent the spread of the coronavirus; therefore, students will continue their education via remote learning in the next weeks. Although the government issued a recommendation to teachers and students, the exact practices are still being developed in most schools. Meanwhile, several individual initiatives were launched in an attempt to help students study from home.

After universities, schools have also closed in Hungary on Monday; meanwhile, education continues through digital channels, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced on Friday.

School teachers must continue teaching, but they have to use digital devices, either from their home, or if they don’t have the necessary tools then they can enter the educational institutions to teach from there online.

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Although the government has been planning „to build the infrastructure for digital education anyway,” they have “not yet finished this work; we have to start it sooner, so it might be slow-going, but it’s still much better to continue teaching with digital tools than to cease it completely,” Orbán emphasized.

According to the Prime Minister, this solution will allow students to prepare for their graduation exams, which can be held as usual.

The government has also set up ten action groups to combat the new coronavirus, among them an action group for education. It is headed by Zoltán Maruzsa, state secretary for public education.

It will take a few days for schools to switch to a digital curriculum, but we will see what colorful education practices will develop in this area,  Maruzsa said during a public radio interview on Monday.

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On Saturday, the education action group compiled a methodology recommendation on the Educational Authority’s website.

There are several applications developed either by the government or private companies that can be used in online education, he noted, adding that „the transition to a digital curriculum will not happen over a weekend- so far, only the administrative frameworks have been laid down, with guides and guidelines for institution leaders.”

The recommendation

The Educational Authority (OH) published a recommendation for digital education on Saturday afternoon. It is not yet a detailed list of instructions, but it does collect and recommend the most notable digital contents and platforms that are already available for every student to use. According to the suggestions, teachers should first send the curriculum and assignments to students and their parents.

“We are aware that the new work schedule is a major challenge for all of us but let’s look at it as the greatest innovation opportunity for Hungarian education,” the text states.

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The document also compiles a list of portals with digitally available study materials such as the learning content management system “Sulinet,” the Hungarian Electronic Library, and the National Film Archive.

The new generation of textbook packages used in most of the schools have also been uploaded along with all sorts of additional study material, instructional videos, and more, all available for free.

Online lesson by teacher Zoltán Kiss for Miskolc Television. Photo by János Vajda/MTI

Those who do not have the right tools for digital education will receive the necessary materials in an „analog way,” either by phone or letter.

The document states that there are several tools available for schools, teachers, and students to support distance learning. One of the recommended platforms is the Education Registration and Study System (Kréta) which is already in use in most institutions, although it’s not very popular.

Of course, what remote learning will look like in practice in the coming months will depend mostly on the teaching staff’s conception.

More initiatives launched

In the meantime, many people have started brainstorming to find the best solution for distance education.

Actresses Kriszta Biró and Andrea Fullajtár launched their idea of an enthusiastic group of actors to record and make audiobooks of required readings available for teachers and students.

Widely known Hungarian presentation software company Prezi has also suggested their platform for remote studying.

Additionally, many of the public television educational programs will be broadcasted on one of its channels (M5) every day from 8 am to 2:30 pm.

Featured photo by Zsolt Szigetváry/MTI