Οur school is situated in Astypalea, a small island in Greece. Astypalea is one of the Dodecanese islands - very close to Santorini and Kos. It has an overall of 1,330 residents. It is a rather small island but with great natural beauty and a sense of strong energy. It is a tiny but entrancing island known as the “Butterfly of the Aegean’’. It is 10 hours away from Piraeus by ship and just 45 minutes away from the mainland by plane.
If I had to describe my island two things come in mind.
The Gymnasium of Astypalea has got 59 pupils and 15 teachers. The students’ ages vary from 13-18 years old.
Before the first lockdown on the 11th of March 2020 we didn’t have any previous experience in distance learning. We have an e-class in our school where our students are in contact with the digital part of education but we definitely couldn’t say that we are digitally literate. The same goes for the majority of public Greek schools. We had never been properly educated so as to be effective on line educators and learners. Only a limited group of teachers had attended an educational program concerning digital skills offered by the Ministry of Education.
So it was a great challenge for all of us to cope with the new situation. The Ministry of Education gave us an educational platform to work with. We had problems with our internet connections. Some of our students didn’t have computers or weren’t connected to internet. Online education was offered on an optional basis so not everyone participated. Schools reopened on the 11th of May and it was a great relief for everybody.
The second lockdown came on the 9th of November 2020. It is the 30th of November and schools are still closed. But now we were prepared. We did our homework and both students and teachers were well prepared. We now use the Cisco Webex educational platform and we are really satisfied with it. What our students really love is breakout sessions when working as groups. They are really cooperative doing projects, tests online etc. Teachers in our school have a database of material they are going to use when coming back to the real class.