Estonian e-Learning Development Centre

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Contents

Overview

The Estonian e-Learning Development Centre was created as a separate structural unit of the Estonian Information Technology Foundation (EITF) on 2 May 2006. Before the creation of the Estonian e-Learning Development Centre, e-learning in Estonian higher and vocational education was coordinated by two consortia: the Estonian e-University consortium, founded February 21, 2003 by eight largest Estonian public and private universities and the Ministry of Education and Research and the Estonian e-Vocational School consortium (founded on 16 February 2005) which at the time included 27 vocational schools and 8 applied universities. Among people acquiring higher and vocational education, the consortium of the Estonian e-Vocational School forms 87% of the total number of learners and the consortium of the Estonian e-University forms 83% of the total number of learners (as of January 2007).

The main attention of The Estonian e-Learning Development Centre is on five areas:

Staff training and support

The training program is closely related to the ICT competences of teachers and lecturers and it is built up on three levels. In 2011, the training program consists of 42 e-courses (total volume 111,5 ECTS). The program is constantly being elaborated and the courses have to be followed-up at least once in every two years. By the end of 2010, the number of teaching staff participating in the training programme reached more than 3000.

One aspect of e-learning is the change in the role of the teacher and a greater division of tasks in education. While preparing quality e-courses, an important role is played by educational technologists. Starting from autumn 2003, there are 53 educational technologists working at the member universities and vocational schools of the e-University and e-VET consortia. Altogether educational technologists have five areas of responsibilities within the schools: improvement of cooperation; staff training; project management, content development and dissemination.

e-Learning content development

Higher and vocational education institutions have received financial support in making ca 600 ECTS of e-courses, 50 video lectures and 200 learning objects or content packages per year. During 2003-2008 additional 1800 ECTS of e-courses, 150 video lectures and 650 learning objects or content packages were created. Universities and vocational schools had more than 50 000 students registered in e-learning environments and 3700 e-courses available at the end of 2007. Contrastingly, by the end of 2006 the total number of e-courses in higher education reached 1430 with 21 800 students altogether. In vocational education the figures were 570 e-courses with 6950 students. During 2007, the number of students and courses has grown 1,5 times. By the end of 2010 the number of courses within the virtual learning environments managed centrally by the e-Learning Development Centre had grown to 5500 with about 120 000 students enrolled.

Quality management

One of the main goals of Estonian e-Learning Development Centre is to assure quality in e-learning. Staff training system and support activities, development of infrastructure, the annual “Quality e-course“ prize awarded since 2004 ensure that it is achieved. Quality label application procedure has been developed so every teacher or lecturer can apply for the quality mark for their e-courses from 2008 onwards.

The knowledge level of teaching staff for using ICT in the learning process is very uneven. In order for them to be more aware of their existing skills and make right choices in choosing the most appropriate training courses, we started to elaborate ICT competences for teachers and lecturers. Since 2006 the ICT competences model for teachers, lecturers, and educational technologists (also for schools) has been available. Every competence in this model describes a skill that is known in their regular work. It can be used as self assessment tool to map individual ICT competences. The model of ICT competences and all the courses in the e-learning program are connected in a way that every course in the program includes competences that can be achieved by the end of the course. The model of ICT competences will be annually revised and renewed by a group of e-learning experts.

Infrastructure

Estonian e-Learning development Centre offers an opportunity to use several central services for the member institutions of both consortia.

Virtual learning environments (as of 2010):

  • Blackboard Vista - about 55 000 users and 2000 courses. The license for Blackboard Vista expires at the end of 2011 and will not be renewed.
  • Moodle - about 64 000 users and 3589 courses. University of Tartu and several applied universities and vocational schools have also Moodle installed in their own servers.
  • IVA is developed at Tallinn University (Estonia) based on social-constructivist pedagogy. Half of the vocational schools and Tallinn University use IVA

Additionally e-Learning Development Centre provides:

  • Codian multipoint video conference server provides an opportunity to connect up to 20 different points and record the video conferences.
  • MathCad - country license for teaching staff in higher and vocational education.


Promotion and internationalisation

One important aspect is to improve awareness about e-learning possibilities among teachers and the public. To achieve that goal, Estonian e-Learning Development Centre conducts seminars and discussions, publishes articles and disseminates information. A conference in early spring is becoming an important tradition. In 2011 an eighth conference will take place in April. In addition, there is an annual training seminar each autumn oriented more on hands-on activities and sharing of experiences, successes and failures.

A long term goal of Estonian e-Learning Development Centre is to create inter-university e-learning curricula in English as well as being an international marketing channel for e-learning. Estonian e-Learning Development Centre is a member of European Distance and e-Learning Network (EDEN); European Institute for E-Learning (EIfEL); European Foundation for Quality in eLearning (EFQUEL) and Baltic Sea Virtual Campus (BSVC). Strong emphasis is placed on international contacts and cooperation, thus providing opportunities to participate in numerous international projects.

Relevant links

http://www.e-ope.ee, http://www.e-uni.ee, http://www.e-vet.ee

Reports

See detailed report on the Estonian e-Learning Development Centre strategy, 2007-2012, at http://www.e-uni.ee/documents/strat_final_en_web.pdf


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> European Union
> Estonia

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