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Innovative assessment tools and methods - Estonia

The Tiger Leap Programme has ensured that Estonian schools have acceptable ITC bases so that resources can be used to ensure close communication between  school and home. It is also possible for the state or local authorities to quickly gather necessary information for making decisions or working out strategies.

Since 2003 there has been an e-school based on the web programme. The existing e-school solution has the following functionality: Class Register – is the main tool for teachers where they insert current results, missed classes, home assignments etc. about daily learning. The “missed class” register – shows which classes the pupil has missed or  been late for, for all subjects during the period. Study book – here a pupil and parent can view all the grades during a term and a year.

Homework and tests – shows pupils and parents the information about the homework and tests entered into the class register with the deadlines for home assignments. Pupil grade sheet (pupil diary) – shows a pupil and parent the current grades of the pupil, missed classes, late arrivals in all subjects during the period. Timetable – shows the timetable to pupils, parents and teachers.

Forums –are a communication channel between parents, pupils and a class teacher as well as between parents and school administration. E-school is a solution that allows parents and pupils to see their study-information i.e. grades, missed classes, home assignments through the Internet. The information in e-school is personalized, it allows only authorised persons to view the information. The monthly fee for each school is about 50 €.

E-school is based on a centrally hosted secure server and it is available to all users of the Internet. Because of central hosting it requires no investments into servers and software in each school. All it takes to use e-school is a good internet connection and computer usage possibilities for teachers. In Estonia 96% of schools have permanent Internet connections and the majority of schools also have a sufficient number of computers for teachers.

Users of all schools can access e-school from one URL www.ekool.ee.  Authentication is based on personal ID code and the system gives every user access to all defined roles within the same logged-in session. It also offers additional value for schools by reports, statistics etc. By now 78 schools out of 600 in Estonia have signed in for E-school and the number is growing. Almost 30 000 people use it every month. More detailed information can be found here: http://europeandcis.undp.org/uploads/ICTD%20e-schools%20Estonia.pdf

The relative high cost of the service has prevented the system from expanding and therefore being used all over the country. There are schools that have developed systems like e-school but only for their own usage. For example out of 15 secondary schools in Tartu, 2 schools are using their own web solutions and no school has joined e-school.

There is also a school in Tartu that uses m-learning. It uses cell phones to give parents information about their child’s marks and learning. At the end of the day class teachers will send SMS to parents who have ordered the service. So the parents will get operational information. Last year there were two classes piloting the system and as it was a success as from this year the whole school and also some other schools are using it. The money for the service comes from projects and its usage is coordinated by a school.

Another system based on the Internet is Estonian Educational Information System (EHIS). It was launched in 2004 and it is a part of state’s info system.  The legislative bases can be found here: https://www.riigiteataja.ee/ert/act.jsp?id=931063

EHIS collects information about educational institutions, pupils and pupils, teachers, educational certificates, curricula.  The system can be used by state, local authorities, schools. With limitations it can be used by everyone through a special portal.

From this year it is obligatory for schools to insert every pupil’s unsatisfactory year marks. This allows gathering information all over Estonia and for example to make decisions for changing curricula. Mapping special needs is another development of EHIS. If a pupil at school has a special need, the school has to insert it into the database and specify what kind of steps would be needed or are taken to help the child e.g. speech therapist help, learning support, individual education plan. It will give the overview what steps have been taken to implement inclusive education and which schools need more resources.

As the Estonian Educational Information System is under constant development there may be new functions implemented in the near future. It is even possible that the system will overtake functions from e-school.

Another web based environment is Miksike (http://www.miksike.ee). It includes different learning materials for pupils and teachers. There is also a possibility for teachers to create online test and quizzes. As teachers have the ability to determine different user groups they can easily select which exercises certain pupils will get. Later the environment calculates the marks by pre-defined criteria.

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