Department of Business and Computer Education
University of Strathclyde, Faculty of Education
Glasgow, Scotland G13 1PP
Department of Business and Computer Education
University of Strathclyde, Faculty of Education
Glasgow, Scotland G13 1PP
The focus of this paper will be on the work undertaken
by the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland in partnership
with the University of Barcelona, Spain working with Universities
in Estonia. The work is ongoing and has been undertaken as one
of the Tempus projects funded by the European Union. The project
involves working with colleagues in three Estonian Universities
to develop courses in teacher education and information technology
at both pre-service and postgraduate level. The experience in
both Scotland and Barcelona of running these type of courses has
been invaluable. However, the main theme of the project is that
of partnership and towards this aim we have worked closely with
our Estonian colleagues to develop systems and courses which are
in tune with their background, culture and experience.
Estonia is a country which has experienced considerable
change over the last 10 years, moving from being a part of the
USSR to full independence. This has also involved a shift in culture
and this is recognised by both students, teachers, and lecturers.
The previous system led in part to isolation in terms of technology
and the Universities are keen to move quickly into the information
age particularly in the fields of E-mail and the Internet.
The population of Estonia is a mix of mainly Estonian
or Russian nationalities, with about 50% of each. There are separate
Estonian and Russian schools. The Russian schools still form a
large part of the education system where Russian is the main teaching
language. The second taught language of most Estonians until independence
was Russian, although now most children are learning English.
The IT provision in the schools is patchy and many schools have
old Russian computers and little software.
Since independence a competition has been held each
year to allocate a number of 486 PCís to schools. The schools
put in bids describing how the machines will be used and the best
bids receive machines. This has resulted in a number of schools
receiving modern machines over the last five years. Software in
the Estonian language is however still limited, although the Universities
and some enthusiastic teachers are producing educational materials.
2. The Tempus Project
The acronym TEMPUS stands for Trans European
Mobility Programme for University Staff.
Tempus Projects are funded by the European Union. Countries from
Eastern Europe publish a number of strategic aims and bids to
meet their needs are received from Universities in member states
of the European Union. Bids have to involve at least two European
Union countries, and the Eastern partner then decides which most
closely meet their needs. The Tempus Office in the Eastern Country
then decides from these bids which it will fund.
The Faculty of Education of the University of Strathclyde,
in collaboration with the University of Barcelona has run two
Tempus projects over the last five years. The first of these involved
working with the Czech Republic and the current one with Estonia.
Tempus projects funded by the EU take several different
forms. This one is run on a collaborative model with colleagues
from Estonia visiting institutions in Glasgow and Barcelona and
colleagues from Glasgow and Barcelona visiting Estonia.
3. The Aims
The main aims of the project are, to develop in Estonian
ï Courses on skills and educational uses of
IT for all students undergoing initial teacher education.
ï Inservice courses in IT for teachers which
can lead to a postgraduate award.
ï Developing a nationally agreed system for
the structure, management and organisation of postgraduate inservice
courses in IT for teachers.
4. Undergraduate Courses
Estonia education is in a process of great change
moving from the prescriptive, didactic model of the USSR to a
more flexible model where active learning is to play a greater
part. The need for teachers to change their methodology and take
a greater part in the learning experience of their students is
one of great opportunity, however for some the experience is proving
traumatic. The Universities are working hard to prepare their
students for this new role. However the shortage of teachers has
led to the development of localised colleges of education which
in general are poorly funded, staffed and resourced.
Economics plays a big part in the development work
being undertaken and although the student teachers are enthusiastic
and well prepared for their future role the reality is that many
will take better paid jobs in commerce.
The project is working with two Universities in Estonia
in a partnership role to help them introduce relevant courses
in their undergraduate teacher education programme. The Universities
are based in Tallinn (the capital) and Tartu, and are the only
providers of teacher education at degree level in Estonia. The
project is certainly focussed around the provision of IT education
to teachers in Estonia. However much work, perhaps of more general
significance, is also related to the development of the teaching
methods employed. Students are used to a didactic approach with
traditional lectures being delivered and progress monitored solely
by means of a final examination. The new courses are encouraging
much greater student participation in the learning process and
are assessed both formatively and summatively on a continuous
basis. This does not however mean the end of final exams or a
reduction in the academic rigour of the courses - quite the reverse
5. Postgraduate Courses
In order to progress the educational use of IT in
schools it is important to have a programme in place to train
teachers already in posts to enhance their methodology and status
and give them new skills in using the modern technology. These
courses have been developed across the three Estonian Universities
which provide postgraduate teacher education. The structure of
the award-bearing programme was agreed between the three Universities
and follows a modular pattern, with students able to ëmix
and matchí modules from each of the three Universities.
This concept is known colloquially as the "hitch-hiking student".
The postgraduate award is at three levels - Certificate,
Diploma and Masters. Each level requires a prescribed number of
modules to be passed and for the Masters level a thesis is also
Modules are defined as being the equivalent of 60
hours work, with a balance between taught classes and individual
study or development, the balance is usually 30:30. Each sixty
hour module is worth two credit points which count towards the
given target for each award. The number of points and modules
for each award is as follows:
Certificate 4 Modules 8 Credit points
Diploma +10 Modules +20 Credit points
Masters +6 Modules +12 Credit points
+Thesis +40 Credit points
The above structure follows a generally accepted
pattern for Estonia, with a Masters involving 40 credits of study
plus a final thesis of 40 credits.
The modules used for the Postgraduate Award have
in several cases been modified from the new courses delivered
to the pre-service students, and take into account the teachers'
basis of experience. In this way the work in each area has benefited
both groups. As much of the methodology is new to serving teachers
this has not caused problems, although the level of assessment
has been tailored to suit the different target group with the
possibility of designing, implementing and reflecting on a practical
classroom application of IT.
5.1 Content of the Modules
The modules taken for Certificate level will have
an emphasis on development of IT competence and classroom application.
This however goes beyond computer literacy and covers a broad
range of IT skills and concepts and their application to the educational
context. The modules at Diploma and Masters level will focus on
broader pedagogical and management issues and need not be entirely
5.2 Modes of Delivery
Although Estonia is a small country, the countryside
is rural with a scattered population, the Universities are aware
of these problems and have therefore emphasised the use of E-mail
in their course development with three of the postgraduate modules
being delivered exclusively in this way. In this area Estonia
is leading the way and colleagues from both Glasgow and Barcelona
have been interested in seeing the results.
The modules have been developed by each of the Universities
independently, and the mode of delivery varies according to their
client group. The modules appear to be popular with teachers and
the first students will achieve a certificate this year.
6. Collaborative Working
The key word in this project has been partnership,
with all participating Universities having equal status. Staff
from the Universities of Barcelona and Strathclyde have visited
the three Universities in Estonia on a regular basis and a variety
of involved staff have had reciprocal visits. There has also been
a great degree of collaboration between the three Estonian Universities
both in the development of the course structure and the format
Staff from a number of different departments have
been involved in the work and have developed modules within their
own areas. This has resulted in a wide variety of modules being
on offer to the students. Modules in Art, Logo, Desktop Publishing,
Foreign Language, Native Language, Biology as well as the more
generic Information Handling have been developed by subject specialists
and are being delivered to teachers from a variety of backgrounds.
Some of the most interesting developments have involved
the use of the Internet and e-mail as a delivery medium. Some
modules, especially in the University of Tartu are being delivered
entirely through this medium, including Logo, and one for School
Internet Postmasters. Small rural schools who do not have access
to e-mail have been collaborating with larger schools to give
them access through their system and this has in the main been
a great success.
The Tempus project funds new equipment for the Universities
to use for the courses run for the project and this has had an
immediate impact on transforming the IT capability of the departments
involved. The equipment has also provided for developmental work
with video conferencing being explored by one of the Universities.
8 Progress to Date
The project is now in its third year and has to date
been highly regarded by the Estonian Universities and the European
Training Foundation who advise the European Commission on such
matters. A national framework for postgraduate awards has been
set up and the first candidates will have received awards by the
end of this year. Useful and enduring links have been forged between
colleagues at an international level. Collaboration amongst the
Estonian universities has increased. Further to this colleagues
from departments previously unaware of the potential of IT in
their subject have been involved and have developed an enthusiasm
for the value of the use of IT in the educational process.
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