Great Britain, Norway, Germany, Thailand or even Nepal – Lithuanian emigrants and their children are scattered all over the world. Many of them still heard the school bell ringing from Vilnius on 1 September. There are currently over 1000 students in Oz’s Gymnasium. However, 570 of them only see the school’s walls once every six months during the examination period. They all spend their days before a computer; remotely communicating with teachers, preparing homework or mastering a new lesson.
The school’s Principal, Albinas Daubaras, is not an ordinary teacher. Instead answering a regular phone he uses Skype and monitors student and teacher attendance with the same program, noting whether someone is “online” or “offline”.
“The distance learning school system was created for separate groups of students living in Lithuania, but it has recently become particularly popular among emigrants. In order to make their children not forget their native language an increasing number of parents living abroad are sending their children to our school,” said the Principal.
The school’s e-learning program has more than seven thousand virtual lessons. “While creating this system we tried to make the structure of a lesson as close as possible to a traditional lesson. We also have a timetable, in the beginning the student is presented with a recorded teacher’s speech and after that a theoretical part of a lesson is taught. Later on students get their assignments by private e-mail and solve them with the help of the teacher,” explained the educator.
According to Daubaras, this style of distance education allows foreign Lithuanian children to continue studies in Lithuanian schools without any difficulties if they were to return to Lithuania. “There are some cases when families leave for a year or half of a year. Some end up in countries such as Thailand, where the education system is completely different. But our distance education system enables them to stay in touch with Lithuania and children don’t have to be tossed around through different schools,” said an interviewee.