In 2012 Estonia launched the ProgeTiger programme to improve technological literacy and digital competencies of teachers and students. Various courses and training have been undertaken to this end, including programming, robotics and 3D technology, which have proved to be very popular.
“We support the development of students from consumers of technology to developers and creators. We create opportunities for students from kindergarten to university to develop technological literacy,” says ProgeTiger programme manager Kristi Salum, Education and Youth Board. “Technological literacy gives learners the ability to cope in the technological world, understand the nature of technology, use technological equipment, and to develop and apply technology creatively and innovatively.”
At the time the ProgeTiger programme was launched, Codecademy.com was also making headlines in the world. Estonia took a big step to be on board with this initiative. Estonia started to train teachers, develop learning materials and translate Codecademy.com programming courses. Today the ProgeTiger programme has developed into a technology programme widely targeted at engineering sciences, design & technology and information & communication technology (ICT).
The programme is aimed at preschool, primary and vocational education to integrate technology education into the curriculum. It offers teachers educational resources and training courses and also supports kindergartens and schools in acquiring different programmable devices.
Technology and innovation in Estonian schools
Estonia has a national cross-curricular theme called “Technology and Innovation,” requiring all teachers to implement technology in their teaching in primary education. That means that teachers have to integrate technology in their subjects in different fields. For example, to use Scratch in mathematics, music programs in music lessons, etc. It does not say what to use or how to use technology specifically – teachers in Estonia are autonomous.
In addition, we have different national elective courses as well as different elective courses created by the school itself in the field of technology education. These include programming, robotics, 3D graphics, computer science, informatics etc., which schools can choose to add into their school programme. We also have extra-curricular activities in kindergartens and schools.
The basic knowledge of coding from kindergartens
In preschool, teachers teach and use different robots like Qobo, mTiny, Blue-Bot, Matata Lab, LEGO WeDo Set, tablets with coding game or animation creation apps. At this age it is important to give students the basic knowledge of coding and digital media through playful and fun activities – learning by doing.
In primary school, teachers teach and use Kodu Game Lab, Scratch, different robots, LEGO Spike Prime or Mindstorms EV3 Sets, mobile app creating programmes. Important topic is also digital safety. Many different programmes and environments are used for teaching various subjects (music, mathematics, physics, biology), e-labs etc.
ProgeTiger programme is coordinated by the Education and Youth Board of Estonia. The programme is supported and funded by the Estonian government through the Ministry of Education and European Union (ESF).