The LINK educational Alliance has adopted an education strategy developed by the Institute for Contemporary Education (ICE) together with other institutions operating under their wings. The strategy is based on the best examples of educational and psychological adaptation implemented by globally renowned education systems that have proven to be highly successful in developing different teaching methods and solutions.
The strategy combines the experience in innovative teaching practices of LINKgroup’s educational institutions that spans over two decades, while taking into consideration the recommendations of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development regarding the necessary steps during the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, the strategy is compatible with current models and educational trends around the world, and complies with EU recommendations.
In addition, a distinctive feature of the strategy is the fact that it has been harmonized with a series of guidelines published by Cambridge Assessment International Education, which refer to the enhancement of the teaching and learning process in the context of modern education.
The strategy focuses on the comprehensive development of children
The teaching model focuses on the comprehensive development of children; in other words, it enables students to not only learn and master the curriculum, but also to develop their determination and motivation to achieve excellent academic results. The aim of the model is twofold: to include in the learning process the development of skills and character, which are equally as important for the success of each individual child, and develop digital competences of both students and teachers.
Digitally-oriented teaching, in combination with developing children’s personality, has shown the best results in education systems, e.g. those in Finland and Singapore. Consequently, LINK’s strategy draws from multiple educational and psychological practices applied by education systems that have proven to be highly successful in finding solutions to online forms of teaching. Research has shown that placing focus on the comprehensive development of children within the school system is stimulating for both academic success and the development of a healthy personality.
Improving quality through teaching evaluation
The use of online teaching for educational and psychological purposes has undergone significant innovation. It includes the analysis of recorded lessons, which is an excellent opportunity for teachers to self-observe and evaluate the success of the lessons and used materials. Self-criticism and self-reflection are excellent instruments for adapting to students’ educational needs, and for enhancing one’s educational, psychological, technological, and other capacities which teachers should recognize as a chance for professional development and lifelong learning.
A team of psychologists and educators provides constructive support in the reflection process and, together with the teachers, analyzes positive aspects of lessons and those that need further improvement. This approach should encourage all those participating in the teaching process to adopt a culture of constant professional development through a dialog between co-workers. Through the support of ICE, as an element of external evaluation, educators, psychologists and teachers can receive feedback on their work and guidelines for improvement.
Creative project-based learning through an interdisciplinary approach
Despite the fact that organizing project-based learning is a demanding task, teachers have the freedom to step outside the box and find creative ways to enrich lessons and motivate students in their virtual or real classrooms.
On the other hand, the students can design project tasks after going through the proposed topics and content with the teachers. They form interdisciplinary teams which work on a project with specific goals and within a set time-frame. Each student creates their own portfolio based on which they are marked, while the teams receive marks according to predefined rubrics.
Innovative Distance Learning Platform as a tool for cooperation and communication
In addition to providing support to students, teachers and parents in following livestreamed lessons, the Distance Learning Platform is a good tool for monitoring student progress through homework. The system is supported by system emails designed to inform the students and parents about homework deadlines. It also supports text messages which remind students and parents of their school obligations.
Through the DL platform, the students and parents can follow lessons synchronously or asynchronously, which is a great advantage during the pandemic. Video lessons are available in the archive, which means that students can access them 24/7 from any location. A classroom without time and geographic limitations is a vision of education implemented by LINK group as we speak.
The LINKgroup Distance Learning System is the first and most cutting-edge distance learning system in Serbia. It adheres to the standards of the leading global universities. The system enables uninterrupted lessons, which in the current coronavirus situation is the perfect solution for carrying out a continuous teaching process.
The platform is the result of the dedicated effort of experts in the fields of education, software engineering, programming, administration, pedagogy, psychology and andragogy, and is extremely flexible for use. The students and teachers can use their laptops, computers, smartphones, tablets, as well as iOS and Android apps.
School life adapted to new circumstances
The return to school requires special measures. In order to adapt the newly created circumstances to students’ needs and teenagers’ circadian rhythm, lessons will begin at 9:30 AM rather than 8 according to the new strategy. This way, the teenagers’ brains will be better prepared for new content and tasks.
Similarly to the new learning standards set by the University of Cambridge, LINK’s model entails social and emotional learning, and student support through workshops, group meetings and one-on-one discussions. This particularly refers to developing emotional wellness, overcoming trauma, adapting to new routines in learning, and socializing and interacting in school. In addition, models have been designed that deal with lesson reorganization and the notification system that informs parents and students about the preventive activities that need implementing.
In order to keep students and parents up-to-date, particularly during the period of adapted lessons, system emails are sent to them on a daily basis. Also, students can receive curriculum-related notifications via consultations, before and after class. This allows students to spend less time in front of the computer, and enables teachers to efficiently intervene and give guidelines when necessary.
The beginning of the school year and nice weather should be used for outdoor lessons, which is a tradition in all Alliance’s institutions implemented through the “classroom without walls” concept. Students work in small groups and there are no activities that cause the spread of droplets or those that require close contact.
All measures stipulated by the strategy fully adhere to the recommendations of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development regarding the coronavirus outbreak.
Workshops in line with the Cambridge approach – an addition to modern lessons
Workshops and counselling are an important aspect of the strategy. The workshops are designed to cover different topics, such as: social values, ethics, solidarity, mutual support, diversity, etc. The strategy promotes the concept of social and emotional learning in an online environment, in accordance with the Cambridge approach. Through different relaxation and concentration strategies, students learn how to reduce stress, review their decisions and control their emotions (“mindfulness” workshops).
Learning via the online platform during the state of emergency also includes programs that are specially designed to elevate social and emotional learning. One of the creative solutions are online clubs, where students can make videos of the working process and post them online. The pre-arranged project allows students to use the resources they have at home to experiment and contribute to the spread of knowledge. For instance, students attending the healthy diet club can make photos of their dishes or post cooking videos and recipes online.
The Institute for Contemporary Education – an agent of positive change in education
In order to provide critical assessment and guidelines for enhancing the education system in Serbia, LINKgroup founded the Institute for Contemporary Education. ICE’s role is to give advice on how to advance educational and psychological activities in schools, identify the areas that can improve the quality of the lessons, and help teachers enhance their capacities as a response to positive change.
Given that the strategy draws upon the analysis of information gathered during the implementation of lessons during the state of emergency, one can safely say that it is based on tangible parameters and planned with a vision to enhance human, material and organizational capacities so as to maximize performance.
Through its modern program tailored to the needs and requirements of contemporary education, the LINK education strategy clearly shows the capacity of LINK educational Alliance’s institutions to respond to the high standards of teaching. Taking into account their decades-long experience in education and modern solutions that adhere to global standards, the adopted education strategy is a guarantee for success.