From Researching Virtual Initiatives in Education
The University of Tartu (Tartu Ülikooli) supports e-learning through the LMS Moodle and Blackboard, according to its e-learning page.
The University of Tartu is said to have been the alma mater for the entire educational system and the scientific research in Estonia. It was founded already in 1632. However, it became a national university - Tartu Ülikool - only in 1919. Nowadays, the university has some 10 faculties, 3 research institutes and 5 colleges with more than 70 departments, institutes and clinics.
The University of Tartu main office is in Tartu, Estonia.
The number of students is over 17,000 (of whom 5,100 Open University students) and the number of teaching staff some 1,700.
The University of Tartu web site is at http://www.ut.ee/.
The Tartu Ülikooli is a member of the Coimbra Group.
The University of Tartu Open University was established in 1996. The mission of the Open University was:
- to improve access to education;
- to diversify study opportunities;
- to make the education more student-centred, taking the student's needs into greater account;
- to provide high quality education under maximum flexibility, with course offerings being independent of time and place.
Today the Open University is a successful hallmark of the University of Tartu, covering both degree education and continuing education programs through distance education or other "unconventional" learning environments. Training under the trademark of Open University is provided by the faculties and colleges at University of Tartu. The activities, in turn, are coordinated by the Open University Centre and the Academic Affairs Office.
E-learning at University of Tartu
Year 1995 may be considered the beginning of e-learning at University of Tartu. It was the year, when the first e-mail based course was delivered in the Faculty of Mathemathics, and only three years later (1998), the Multimedia Center obtained videoconference facilities with the support of the PHARE Multi-country Project in Distance Education. In 1998, also first web-based course in the WebCT environment was developed and delivered at the university. And since then, the number of web-based courses has indeed increased. At the end of year 2007, the number of web-based courses was approximately 600. However, entirely web-based curricula did not yet exist.
In January 2000, the University Council gave priority to ICT-based learning acclaiming that it should be important to inculcate ICT-based learning in all study moulds, to start the development program of ICT-based courses and assigning the Distance Education Centre as a structural unit with the responsibility for developing ICT-based learning at the University of Tartu.
In 2001, the Multimedia Center started to create CDs for study purposes. In November 2002, the Multimedia Center launched a project of video lectures that received financial support from EITSA (Estonian Information Technology Foundation) in 2003. They used both real time video streaming as well as storage and archival of lectures. The project was continued in 2004 by replacing the outdated video conference equipment with the support from EITF.
In February 2002, the E-University portal of University of Tartu was opened. Besides offering learning opportunities and support for learners, this portal provided both technical and methodological help for academic staff (professors and tutors) for elaborating ICT-based courses, etc.
In February 2003, the University of Tartu initiated in cooperation with other universities, the Ministry of Education and Research and the Estonian Information Technology Foundation, the Estonian e-University, which has since grown into a consortium under EITF to support the universities and coordinate the development of e-learning.
The university's first education technologist was employed in year 2000 (and seven more a few years later) to assist the teaching staff in the development of web-based courses. At the end of year 2005, the University of Tartu then approved its first e-learning strategy (E-learning strategy 2006-2010), which sets the tasks of developing e-learning in 3 categories:
- I Support high-quality studies centred on the student and involvement of new target groups;
- II Increase the e-learning competence of teaching staff, students and assistance personnel and develop the cooperation models for e-learning;
- III Ensure the high level of infrastructure and support services for e-learning.
This institution/programme was discussed as a case study in the Megatrends project in its second report, Megaproviders of e-learning in Europe (PDF - 212 pages - EN), 2007 (ISBN 978 82 562 88184).