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.
The goal of the program is to provide children and youth with the skills they need to cope in the future. Robotics, programming, and STEAM subjects are very suitable for this. Thanks to them, children learn much more than programming or robotics: they learn to solve problems, to be creative, to collaborate, and to think critically.
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 program is aimed at all young children, from kindergarteners to high school and vocational school students. The focus is on three major areas: engineering sciences, information technology, and design & technology. Developing technological literacy in children is becoming increasingly important. To help them grow into creative people who want and know how to make the world a better place through technology, and not just consumers of entertainment and services created by others. Year by year, cybersecurity has also become more important in ProgeTiger’s activities: for young people to behave responsibly in the online world: to protect themselves and not to hurt others.
A network of tigers. ProgeTigers
The greatest value of ProgeTiger is the network of enthusiastic leaders – there are so-called progetigers – technology-interested teachers who offer exciting opportunities for children and inspire new colleagues to get involved – in every Estonian county. It is with their help that Estonia has now achieved results that we would not have dared to dream of in 2012. Today, in one way or another, almost all Estonian kindergartens and schools have become more or less involved in the activities of the ProgeTiger program.
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).