In Moldova, as in many places across the world, education was amongst the first sector hit by the COVID-19 crisis in ways no one could have imagined. As distance learning became the new normal, schools, kindergartens and universities were quickly forced to explore remote learning platforms.

Yet the education sector (like many others) was unprepared to embrace this shift with such short notice. The process revealed hidden challenges which up to that point had been overlooked.

One such challenge is the low rates of internet literacy in the country. Though the use of Internet has been on the rise in Moldova for the last couple of years, many citizens – including teachers – do not have the technical skills required to figure out how to download, install and use tools needed for remote learning.

Complicating matters further was that Moldova planned to offer two types of learning: synchronous and asynchronous. With synchronous learning, users can receive immediate feedback through instant messaging (Zoom, Skype Google+ Hangout) whereas the latter provides for an individual, self-paced learning experience (file transfer, email, blogs, on-line courses). Without a centralized plan for remote learning, teachers were given freedom to choose the format they wished to implement, which made things chaotic for students and parents, who had to install a number of different software depending on the lesson and teacher.

Teachers struggled with collecting homework and reviewing progress through such decentralized platforms. They used individual chats to share the content, which made the process even more confusing for all involved. At the same time, they were required to report daily on the wellbeing of their students, which turned out to be a heavy administrative task as they needed to write each person individually.

In 2018, UNDP Moldova helped create an e-learning platform studii.md, in partnership with Tekwill and developed by Simpals. At the time, UNDP’s goal was to set up a system that helped parents track the performance of their children through a centralized platform. The platform had all the standard functions – displaying grades, homework, comments by teachers - and could hold the online schedule for up to a year. It also provided statistics on the progress and absences of each student for any period of time. Teachers could use the data to generate statistical and graphic reports on the students.

Then COVID-19 hit. With the crisis in the background, Studii.md had to quickly transform to meet the rising needs of the moment.

Studii.md started the transformation process by opening up to feedback from all the parties involved: parents, teachers, and students. The team used the crisis as an opportunity to test and incorporate new and necessary functionalities on the platform, ones that would support not only distance education, but also classroom education. 

For many parents, managing children’s school schedule, connecting them to classes, printing out homework, helping out with school chores and reporting back to teachers only added to an already long list of domestic work. A platform that would centralize school agendas, homework, and teachers’ feedback was becoming necessity.

Shortly after the decision on emergency lockdown and home schooling, Studii.md added new functionalities:

  • The ability for teachers to upload videos on the lesson page and attach files and links to homework.
  • The opportunity for students to send homework for review in electronic format.
  • A video conferencing feature that allows for conducting lessons in real time.
  • A library with electronic textbooks for grades 1 – 12 in all languages ​​of instruction, as well as a section with school courses in various subjects.
  • A simplified registration process for students and parents, allowing teachers to connect students via links.
  • Automatic calculations of average scores and absences, saving teachers’ time. During the quarantine period, users fill out a mandatory health report, which is automatically displayed in the classroom's journal.
  • Progress monitoring for parents by accessing their student’s profile, with information on grades, absences and mentors’ comments.
  • The possibility to directly add comments on uploaded homework photos, without having to download the files.

As of May 2020, 55 schools from all over the country have connected to Studii.md. 68,375 user accounts have been registered, which includes around 33,860 parents, 32,000 students and 2,500 teachers. The platform was included in the list of recommended distance learning tools by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research of Moldova.

More challenges are ahead for the educational environment in Moldova, but regardless of the outcomes of the COVID crisis, this is an important advancement towards the implementation of digital solutions. What started as a basic platform with information has transformed into a fully functional educational instrument that facilitates the lives of thousands of people.

--

UNDP harnessing the power of digital technology to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, creating support platforms for distance learning in Moldova, helping Kazakhstan shift its civil service delivery to digital forms, partnering with mobile companies in Albania for an online medical resource and running a global hackathon for innovative solutions in Azerbaijan. If you are curious to learn more, see how we’re adapting UNDP’s existing programmes to fight Coronavirus.

Icon of SDG 03 Icon of SDG 04

Discover

Loading…

UNDP Around the world

You are at UNDP Moldova 
Go to UNDP Global