At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, when schools closed and remote learning became necessary, it became clear that North Macedonia was ill-equipped to handle the transition from traditional education to digital remote learning. There were insufficient digital resources to support this and teachers were generally unprepared for digital education. As in other parts of the region, the authorities were struggling to cope with the challenge and required assistance.
The non-governmental organization SmartUp – Social Innovation Lab, with the financial and technical support from UNICEF, Bureau for Development of Education (BDE), and the key educational institutions in the country, had been working for the past four years to support innovation and co-creation within the education sector. They had already trained a solid group of collaborators and developed some initial platforms, which they could rapidly restructure to address these challenges. They accepted the challenge and began creating what is now known as the largest digital education library in North Macedonia.
Aleksander Lazovski, co-founder of SmartUp, has revealed that the organisation with support from BDE advisors immediately launched a call for teachers to submit short video lessons for the EDUINO platform, after they took on the task of providing digital resources to support remote learning in North Macedonia. “We expected to receive maybe 100 or 200 video lessons at the beginning. However, in the first two or three days, we had over 600 video lessons submitted by the teachers across the country. It was thrilling,” said Aleksandar.
This initial success led the founders to see the potential for EDUINO as a long-term national solution for digital education in North Macedonia. The platform shifted towards this goal after the crisis period, becoming what the founders call a “Collective portal for digital educational solutions.” The platform is built on the idea of co-creation and community action, offering resources for teachers, parents, and learners in pre-primary, primary, and secondary education.
EDUINO now includes three main sections: EDUINO Teaching and Learning, EDUINO – Early Childhood Development (ECD) and EDUINO Laboratory. EDUINO Teaching and Learning houses a video lessons library, tutorials on 21st digital skills for educators, digital games, and learning resources. EDUINO ECD offers play-based activities and professional development opportunities. Lastly, EDUINO Laboratory is a 2D virtual science lab that offers experiential learning about scientific concepts and climate change.
The project has achieved considerable success in terms of numbers and outcomes. Some notable achievements include the creation of over 4500 video lessons, which have received around seven million views, as well as the development of approximately 800 play-based activities aimed at helping children aged 3-10 learn complex educational concepts while improving their socioemotional skills. The project has also attracted over 25,000 registered members of the EDUINO community.
The European Union has recognized the impact and potential of EDUINO and through UNICEF has supported the project by becoming a partner. The EU has funded the EDUINO Webinar series, which provides interactive events for participants to follow 60-90 minute lectures on innovative and advanced topics in the field of education through examples of good practices and advice from practitioners or experts. According to Aleksandar, the EDUINO Webinar series has been a huge success, with a total of 42 webinars conducted so far and an average of 1800 participants per event. “These EU funded webinar series have directly supported the professional development of at least 5000 educators in North Macedonia,” he adds.
The webinars are designed to provide teachers with opportunity for continuing professional development. They’re also connected to a system that helps teachers advance in their careers in the country. This means that teachers have the chance to become mentors and advisors and make a positive impact on the quality of education in their school. Today, the EDUINO Webinar series is one of the most recognized online resources for acquiring skills in the field of education and, according to statistics from SmartUp, the most viewed online webinars in the country.
About the project
EDUINO, North Macedonia’s platform for digital learning, fostered a community of practice and successfully crowdsourced a large amount of educational content from teachers and educators around the country within weeks of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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