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Coronavirus: Swedish college implements digital plans early

Work done by a Swedish medical school over the past few years to prepare digital education options is paying off as lockdown forces it to close physical classrooms

Since the second half of March, following instruction from the Swedish government that high schools and universities must close due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, educational establishments have advanced their digital tutoring capabilities.

In Stockholm, the Scandinavian College of Naprapathic Manual Medicine was already well prepared. It had equipment, processes, ways of working and a plan that it was able to launch faster than expected.

The college recently carried out a survey, in which students rated the success rate of the current change. In general, students said they were “happy” or even “very happy”. Headteacher Helène Schulte said the level of cooperation with students and teachers was really good.

Graduating on time will not be a problem in most cases, even if a student prefers to study from home. The main reason being that the course is four years long and there will be plenty of time to catch up after the coronavirus, said Simon Berg, head of administration at the college.

“The pandemic will not affect students’ ability to graduate on time. We will find a workable solution for each individual class so that our students’ education will not be prolonged,” added Berg.  

The college has students from all over the Nordics, and is especially popular with Norwegian students. Half of the study is practical.

Alternative methods of teaching now available include web broadcasts of practical education in combination with case-based assignments. Eventually, however, all students will need to get back on site for their practical and clinical examinations. A transition to offering remote education was already planned for autumn 2020, having been in the works for years. It meant that starting ahead of time was easy.

“The pandemic will not affect students’ ability to graduate on time. Since we are a fairly small organisation, we are fast to implement new technologies and new modes of education”
Simon Berg, Scandinavian College of Naprapathic Manual Medicine

The college already used Google’s G Suite for education, so all systems, teachers, students and staff are well integrated into a whole Google ecosystem. They have also implemented a fully cloud-based school management system known as Schoolity, which allows students and teachers to easily access everything from student information to attendance, grades, course plans and curriculum from wherever they are.

“Since we are a fairly small organisation, we are fast to implement new technologies and new modes of education,” said Berg. “Those educators that lack a solid IT infrastructure and a way to implement technological change throughout the organisation are probably struggling at the moment.”

Education is usually one of the sectors to suffer least during an economic downturn. When the labour market is weak, going to school is considered to be a good option. This downturn, however, according to Berg, poses some unique challenges, especially when it comes to educators providing clinical and practical training. How it all plays out and what effects this college will see on education remain to be seen.

Berg predicted that the situation would have a long-lasting impact on higher education as a whole, but not necessarily a bad one. “Creativity and pedagogical innovation thrive in times like these,” he said.

Another institution of learning in the Nordic region is Örebro University. It has made the transition to digital, and even exams can be taken from anywhere. Its digital setup went live on 13 March, and since then almost all tutoring has been done through technology.

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