Ict-based teaching at the University of Tartu, Estonia Aune Valk, Aire Ots I background: legislation

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Tartu University/ Open University 



ICT-based teaching at the University of Tartu, Estonia 

Aune Valk, Aire Ots 


I Background: legislation 


In Estonia, CE is regulated by a number of laws: the Law of Education (Haridusseadus, 

1992), the Law of Universities (Ülikooliseadus, 1995), the Law of Private Schools 

(Erakooliseadus, 1998), the Law of Applied Higher Education Institutions 

(Rakenduskõrgkooliseadus, 1998), the Law of Adult Education (Täiskasvanute 

koolituse seadus, 1993), and the Regulation for the Development of Professional Skills 

of Educators (Haridustöötajate kutseoskuste täiustamise kord,1998). The Ministry of 

Education is primarily involved with questions concerning educators’ continuing 

education. All the programmes entitling the participants to more than one credit point 

(40 hours of work), and those applying for funding from the state budget (3% of 

teachers’ salary is allocated to continuing education), must be registered with the 

Ministry of Education. The main aim of the Register is not to assess the quality of the 

courses but to ensure the proper use of state funds for professional development. 


Universities are independent in managing their UCE. According to the Law of 

Universities  (Ülikooliseadus 1995, § 20), the council of a particular university 

establishes the fields, forms and the management system of UCE at the university. 

Continuing education is defined as professional education. 


In addition, universities may have their own regulations for CE management: for 

example, they may have set regulations for the opening, changing and closing of CE 



At the University of Tartu, CE is also regulated by the Statutes of the University and by 

the Development Programme of the University.  


ICT-based teaching/learning is not separately regulated in legislation. In the basic 

principles of the Educational Strategy for Education, "Learning Estonia", ICT-based 

learning is pointed out as natural part of process of learning and management. For 

realising this, ICT-competence demands must be at the very first engaged to the 

teachers' initial and continuing education and learning and teaching have to be 

modernised with new technologies. 


The Council of the University of Tartu have decided to support more extensively 

applying ICT in all study modes (campus based, DE, UCE), to start development 




Tartu University/ Open University 


programme for ICT-based courses and to fund these activities from the university 



According to the Development Plan (until 2005) Tartu University shall offer ICT-based 

flexible and open study opportunities also for adults and as a continuing education. The 

knowledge and skills of students have to be in accordance with development of science 

and technology, new teaching methods must be taken into use and new didactics 

appropriate to ICT development will be elaborated. 


II ICT-based teaching at the University of Tartu 


The main responsibility to accomplish these ideas at the University of Tartu relies on 

the Open University. Tartu University Open University was started as a project in 1996. 

Since 1999 Open University is defined as the trademark of education given in a non-

traditional form at the University of Tartu. So, the Open University is one function of the 

University of Tartu, which fulfilment is connected with the whole university. 


The aims of Open University activities are: 


providing high quality lifelong education opportunities both via degree studies 

and continuing education;  


developing ICT-based learning and ICT-based learning environment in Tartu 



developing regional network for carrying out ICT-based distance education; 


introducing and mediating university research and institutional development 

activities and learning possibilities to counties. 


The aims of the Open University are achieved in the co-operation of faculties/colleges 

and Open University support centres. Open University courses are provided by the 

university faculties and colleges. The activities of Open University are organised, co-

ordinated and supported by Distance Education Centre and Multimedia Centre.   


Development of ICT-based learning environment and ICT-based studying is the task of 

the Multimedia Centre and the Office of Educational Technology of the Distance 

Education Centre. Teachers are offered methodological and technological help and 

consultations in preparing and delivering video- and audio-conferences and internet-

based courses. For teachers ICT-based training and seminars are organised. 

Regional support to learners is certified with the help of university representatives and 

contact persons in all counties. To improve Internet access of Open University learners, 

Distance Education Centre has made contracts with public Internet offices in a several 

counties, contracts to use computer classes of colleges or other universities. There is a 

Library and Learning Support Centre for Open University learners in Tartu with 




Tartu University/ Open University 


possibility to use computers to participate in web-based courses and use databases of 

university library. In Spring 2001 a study centre for Open University students and for 

organising CE courses was opened in Tallinn. As the teaching in Open University takes 

place in all university colleges too, regional support is offered also by university 

teachers who deliver their lectures in colleges (going there or via videoconferences). 

Besides introducing Open University possibilities and supporting Open University 

learners in counties, Regional Development Office of the Distance Education Centre 

introduces the whole university in counties, organises public lectures, exhibitions and 

other activities in regions. 


Figure 1: Continuing education courses of the University of Tartu 1999 and 2000. 


                                     1999                                            2000 

Figure 2: Web-based courses at the University of Tartu 
















in Tartu

in counties





Tartu University/ Open University 




III SWOT analyses of the current system 



close connections between research and ICT-based teaching 


one system for organizing and co-ordinating different non-traditional studies (UCE, 

ICT-based teaching, DE), technological support and regional activities 


degree and continuing education are both coordinated by the same structural unit – 

which makes easier to move between educational programs and recognize courses 



close co-operation between Open University support centres and faculties 


system of contact persons and educational technologists in faculties 


university representatives and contact persons in counties 


Open University’ summer courses – way to international market 


effective support system for ICT-based studies provided by the Multimedia Centre 

and the Office of Educational Technology 


operative system of seminars and courses for development of teaching staff (incl 

virtual learning) 


technological readiness (software, technology) for virtual teaching/learning in the 

university as well as in Estonia generally 


highly evaluated university 




teachers are not enough ready to develop virtual learning courses (lack of time, 

knowledge’s, finances)  


need for methodological competence in preparing ICT-based courses 


limited funding for both support centres as well as faculties what concerns ICT-

based teaching activities 















1999 Autumn

2000 February



2001 May

number of courses




Tartu University/ Open University 



no national policy, finances for ICT-based teaching 


the elaboration of the regional system of distance education study centres and 

tutors is in the very beginning 


student support could be better, more intensive and systematic 




Estonian educational market is limited (students, finances) 


Estonian legislation does not support distance learning, part-time learning, co-

operation between universities 


some groups might be even more excluded from opportunities to obtain education if 

they have to pay and use new technology 




education is greatly valued in Estonia 


potential to offer courses in English 


economical growth in future (people have more possibilities to study, hopefully) 


increasing trend to study and work at the same time brings more students to Open 



improving knowledge and possibilities to use internet 


Example of good practice 

Good experiences in initiating ICT-based teaching at the University with limited funding 

and without external (state) support. System of courses, seminars, rising awareness 

with different methods, offering methodological and technological support for teachers 

both centrally and based on educational technologists in faculties.  


Area that requires developing 


What might be the best system on national level for offering ICT-based teaching? 


How to create the system of tutors and initiate the division of labour between 

teachers and tutors in a classical university? 


Document Outline

  • ICT-based teaching at the University of Tartu, Estonia
  • Aune Valk, Aire Ots
  • I Background: legislation
      • II ICT-based teaching at the University of Tartu
      • Figure 2: Web-based courses at the University of Tartu
  • Strenghts
  • Weaknesses
  • Threats
  • Opportunities
    • Example of good practice
    • Area that requires developing

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