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Interview with an Estonian IT teacher

1. What kind of e-learning systems and opportunities are available in your school?

The school has adopted the following e-learning systems and practices for learning purposes in online environments: E-school, Wordpress, Moodle, Koolielu (School Life), Miksike, Roundcube Webmail. From the beginning of a new semester, we will start using the following systems: GP Untis electronic timetable application, learning environment Krihvel for primary school and a separate learning environment & learning materials hosted on Wordpress. We will also start using such systems as LeMill, Dippler and various blogging sites.
2. How much deciding can the school do and how many of these decisions have already been made outside the school?
Thus far all decisions have been made by the school. Only e-school was a mandatory choice and this has a lot to do with the fact that they were the only ones on the market at the time. But things are already beginning to change and we can already choose between different applications. We’ve remained true to e-school, though.
3. How many different learning environments have you used since becoming a teacher?
I’ve used e-school, Moodle, Wordpress, Koolielu, Miksike, Facebook plus many other Web 2.0 devices and services.
4. How often do these tools change?
They don’t change that much, it’s more about how many of these new services are out there. We use about two to three new environments in a year so we’ll have enough time and energy to learn to use these new environments.
5. Is there a way for the students to send their homework via internet?
There’s a way to submit one’s homework via Moodle and Facebook plus many other Web 2 environments. We used to have Roundcube Webmail for that, however, our priority is to use other services so we wouldn’t burden our server with thousands of attachments.
6. Do you also use some kind of an environment for informing the students?
There are various tools for that, such as e-school, electronic time table, Moodle or whatever the teacher might find suitable.
7. How many of the students own a smartphone?
I would say 1/3 of the students. It’s a growing trend and the transition is clearly visible. I’m sure that in half a year the situation will, again, be very different from now. By then 50% may own a smartphone.
8. Do you see any ways for integrating smart phones into the learning process?
Sure, why not. There are many useful apps out there that could be easily used for learning purposes. It’s also useful to learn how the smartphone itself works. I’m aware that there are even separate M-courses available, one of which Microsoft organized for teachers. However, it was too pricey and many schools could not afford it. Our school hasn’t joined in either. Having different operating systems could also be problematic, although it could in some way be used for teamworks. I, myself, prefer Android for its free software, which is easier to integrate into schoolwork.
9. How many students does a regular class consist of?
30 to 31 students, in groupwork classes 15-16 students in a group.
10. How big is your school? How many students go there and how many new students are accepted each year?
This year there are 38 classes altogether and overall 1171 students go here. Each year about 4x28 students are accepted to the first class and tenth class.
11. Have there been any problems regarding online privacy (information leak etc)?
Not that I’m aware of, because our school has a very experienced IT specialist who takes care of everything being safe on our server.
12. Do you, as a teacher, see any other ways of implementing technology into schoolwork, do you see need for it?
I do see need for it, because learning materials are full of different media and web-based learning games in forms of apps are much more appealing to students that traditional learning materials. With the increasing amount of different apps, many more ways to educate students unlock. Students are much more eager to learn and find things out themselves. Teacher’s role in this process is becoming more and more guiding and supporting.

Discuss & brainstorm