COVID-19 is a big threat to societies. The virus has proved to be very diffusive and there is a considerable risk that health sectors’ capacity will not be enough if the virus continues to spread freely. In these exceptional times, there is a need for isolating people as much as possible, while societal workforces keep working. In the education sector, this means that in many countries the practical solution is that school buildings are closed, pupils and students are ordered to stay home, and distance education is the only way to continue teaching. However, this situation poses several challenges for all stakeholders, especially teachers.
Firstly, it is rather common that teachers do not have access to suitable tools for remote education. Especially in basic education, most teachers prefer face-to-face classroom teaching and different kinds of e-learning apps are used mostly for supplementation and variation if used at all.
Secondly, the e-learning tools in use do not support school-level data generation. Rather often, there are several independent applications that do not communicate with each other. Consequently, teachers end up having to evaluate and mark all assignments and accomplishments manually and deliver the data to the next level. School principals and managers are not able to follow what students are doing and how they are progressing. In remote education, such tracking systems would be especially relevant to identify potential dropouts as early as possible and remediate the problem.
Thirdly, the technological knowledge of teachers varies a lot. Some teachers have already used different kinds of tools, but a big portion of teachers are not capable of taking any complicated e-learning platforms to use on such a tight schedule like now. One must consider that teachers have other challenges as well: they have to reschedule the whole semester in considerable short time and most probably they are living very stressful days in their own life as well. Teachers do not need any extra challenges at the moment. Therefore, educational tools better are as simple as possible. It is not the time for complex and mysterious features covering all possible whims of developers.
These three challenges have to be taken into account when distance education is planned in these exceptional times. It is essential to get teaching tools that are easy to take into use, which really help teachers work and are simple enough to be useful with minimal (or non-existent) training. These tools have to give a clear overall view for rectors, managers, and administration to follow how teaching is organized and how it is progressing. However, these tools are rare and the existing tools are designed for a totally different world situation.
We claim Formjack to be a tool like this. Formjack is based on Eduix’s existing education solutions tailored especially to this specific situation in mind. As a cloud-based solution with simplified registration procedures, Formjack is possible to take in use in two minutes. No student lists, group or class information must be typed in, students and teachers add the information as the application is used. Teachers do not have to give and collect assignments individually and combine results manually together, the tool supports teaching scaling and combines the results per assignment together automatically. Since it has a simplified user interface with only the essential features, Formjack is easy to learn and take into use even if the teacher does not have any previous experience in e-teaching. The system collects all school information together and management can easily follow what is the situation of the school, different classes, and specific students.
As Formjack is location independent, it is easy to take in the use in all schools needing effective e-teaching solutions rapidly. During this Coronavirus period, the basic version of Formjack is free for use for all teachers, which lowers the threshold to start to use it and also minimizes the bureaucracy and time needed for change into distance education.