Coronavirus: Czech TV to air ‘virtual classroom’ shows until schools reopen

16-03-2020

To help slow the spread of the new coronavirus, the Ministry of Health last week ordered all primary and secondary schools to close indefinitely. Some schools and teachers are better prepared and more technically equipped than others to transition to remote learning. To help ensure students don’t fall behind in core subjects – and give structure to their days – Czech Television has begun airing special educational programmes that replicate the feel of a classroom.

Photo: Czech TelevisionPhoto: Czech Television Czech Television on Monday started airing extended educational programmes for primary school pupils called “UčíTelka” – a play on the word “teacher” and the phrase “televised teaching” – and another for older students called “Odpoledka” – which loosely translates as “afternoon session”.

Over the next four weeks, at least, the public broadcaster’s channel ČT2 will air blocs of 30-minute lessons, designed for specific age groups, in which a teacher/moderator interacts with a handful of children in the studio.

The programmes were prepared under the auspices of the Ministry of Education. The aim is to, at least in part, replicate the classroom experience. Keeping a regular daily schedule of instruction can also help parents and caretakers manage the coronavirus quarantine period, says Czech Television general director Petr Dvořák.

“As with the news, we try to keep the population fully informed about help them understand what is happening. So, here we’re trying to help parents, children and educators get through this period when schools are closed. The idea was first discussed at the start of last week. Since then, we’ve been working to implement it. I must say the pace has been quite hectic, so viewers will have to forgive us for any shortcomings.”

UčíTelka will air weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon, and Odpoledka from noon to 3 p.m. on Czech Television’s station ČT2. Both will focus on basic core subjects like Czech language and mathematics, but also include, for instance, physical education blocs – taught by Olympic pentathlon champion David Svoboda.

For older students preparing for entrance exams, the public broadcaster is also airing 45-minute programmes called Škola doma (Home schooling) The show, which airs Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2 p.m., is interactive – in that students can pose questions in advance by email or chat programmes.

Photo: Czech TelevisionPhoto: Czech Television In an interview with Czech Radio, Association of Primary Schools chairman Michal Černý said headmasters like himself had weeks ago anticipated that the schools would be closing. But many teachers were anxious about how to adapt their courses to e-learning.

“For example, one of our teachers was quite desperate because she teaches geometry and really felt students had to be physically present to learn it. At home, some would rather poke their eyes with compasses than draw something. I advised her to shift the curriculum, revise the thematic plan to something suitable for home teaching.”

Older students may need to show greater self-discipline during the coronavirus quarantine. For younger children, Czech Television’s channel Déčko offers a wide array of educational games through its website (decko.ceskatelevize.cz) to help kids use their time at home productively.

16-03-2020