The Bulgarian Education is Going Digital
Four Bulgarian teachers share their first-hand experience with remote learning and how Microsoft is helping by making the transition easier
Many schools and universities globally are moving classes online, as more and more countries around the world take steps to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. In these trying times technology plays a key role in supporting people and organizations each day. Digital education is a big change for most students and teachers. Without a physical classroom, how could one be sure that students are engaged and progressing? How do educators and faculty stay connected? Some experienced teachers were asked about the challenges they are facing every day, doing their job in a digital environment. You can see more about their stories below (content is available in Bulgarian).
“During these couple of weeks, the Bulgarian teachers are making revolution in the Bulgarian education. Revolution regarding the teaching process, as well as the learning process.” This is what Petya Syarova, Principal, “Vasil Levski” High School, Yambol, said at the beginning of her interview for TV EVROPA’s morning show. “Since 2015 our school has been working with Microsoft Office 365 and we have certain experience.” So, when they had to begin with digital education on 16th March, they managed to build a suitable online environment fast and without many problems. “Now the teachers are even more engaged, they have to spend much more time preparing their lessons than before,” said Syarova. According to her this all is due to the fact the recordings of their teaching will be put into an e-archive. “Even the Physical education (PE) teachers are making videos with suitable exercises“, she continued.
“This digital education gives a lot to think about:
- how could this way of teaching and learning be used for consulting with the students after school time
- how the recording we are creating now can be used in the future”
„The positive effects of digital education will be seen in the future,” said Syarova.
“I’m not sure if the Bulgarian schools are ready to adopt digital education, but I’m certain that if they have to – they will do it in the most proper way, no matter what it takes”. This is what Lyudmila Dermendjieva, Principal of “SS. Cyril and Methodius” First Elementary School, Gotse Delchev, stated in an interview for Economy.bg. “The teachers are responsible people, you can always count on them,” said Dermendjieva. “The school has been using Microsoft Office 365 since 2010 but not all available features – mostly Outlook and some document editing features.” But since 2017 “SS. Cyril and Methodius” First Elementary School is getting more and more digitalized. So, the school was prepared to start immediately remote learning right after the government announced all the measures for fighting the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The Teams classroom became our classroom,” said Dermendjieva. Microsoft Teams is a unified communication and collaboration platform that combines workplace chat, video meetings, file storage, and can help all 600 students of the school as well as their 49 teachers stay connected. “Our students are having fun while studying online. The younger students had difficulties with the platform at the beginning, but we all helped – teachers and parents,” explained Dermendjieva. She thanked the Bulgarian teachers for all the hard work going online, “for the sake of the proper education for every child in Bulgaria.”
“The current situation is a stress test for the Bulgarian education,” states Flashnews.bg and reached out to Deiana Peykova, Deputy principal, “Hristo Smirnenski” Elementary School, Rakovski, to find how students and educators are coping with the digital education. “The children from 5th to 7th grade were the first to be totally responsive to the platform. They are used to working with Office 365.” The school managed to create some how-to guidelines in no time and the whole process began smoothly.
“The parents were also of great help, especially when it came to the younger students.” said Peykova. From her point of view the worst-case scenario is if this school year is cancelled. The current situation is challenging for every teacher, “but we can do it. My greatest desire is to return to the classroom, but for now we (the educators) are trying our best not to miss anything regarding the education of the children.”
“I’m under the impression that the Ministry of Education for some years now has been preparing the schools for digital education”, said Marieta Hristova, Principal, “Vasil Levski” Secondary School, Elin Pelin, in an interview for Novini.bg. She explained that the new way of remote learning was adopted by the school in about 3 days and without many problems. As schools move to digital environment, Microsoft Teams provides an online classroom that brings together virtual face-to-face connections, assignments, files, and conversations into a single platform.
In Hristova’s opinion working online was hard at first, especially for the elder teachers, “but now the things are happening.” Even the preparation for the final exam is under way. “The education system has to adapt to this way of working.”
Faced with delaying the term and even canceling the school year, all these schools you already read about, have sprung into action, quickly migrating their entire curriculum online. And as countries around the world are impacted by the outbreak, many more educational organizations will need to do the same.