According to the contemporary approach to learning, the most important determinant of learning outcomes is the student’s activity. However, the teacher needs to design the learning environment in such a way that learners are engaged and can set goals and find solutions themselves. Of course, this requires a different set of skills, but also new tools. Teachers from Tartu Vocational College took part in the Erasmus+ cooperation project “Active learning through improved interactivity” (ALTII) to develop new ways of engaging learners.
Teacher Anne Krull told us more about the results.
What were the objectives of the ALTII project?
The aim of the project was to support teachers to prepare lectures, lessons and teaching in general to be more engaging for learners. I don’t see such a big engagement problem in Estonia or in the Tartu VOCO, because there is a focus on learner involvement. Teachers use different methods and digital environments quite extensively. But yes, there are many possibilities and what to use – it needs to be search and experimentation. After all, there is no fixed formula, because one tool may work with one and another with another. The important thing is that teachers have a diverse toolbox and they know what and when to use them. Diversity expands possibilities.
What did you do with partners?
The project activities were very much in Covid time, so we worked together but at a distance. We created and prepared different methodological guides for lessons in different topics, and then tested each other’s lesson plans and gave feedback on the lessons. It was an opportunity to learn about engagement techniques used elsewhere but also to share our own best practices.
Another important activity and outcome was the creation of an online environment to activate learners. This is an environment where, for example, one can carry out surveys or collect feedback. The environment is free of charge for everyone.
What opportunities does this AudIT environment offer to engage learners?
The teacher can prepare different questions and answer options. There can be right-false answers, there can be poll-type answer options that can be voted on but also student´s opinions can be collected. It is also possible to have the students write a text and form word clouds together. Some of the functionalities are similar of Mentimeter, some of Kahoot. But the biggest plus is that, unlike other well-known environments, it has been translated into Estonian. Select Estonian from the top menu and click “OK”. Therefore, AudIT could be recommended to use in case of younger students. Teachers can share the questions with a link or QR code or even its possible to create an ID number. In short, different options to use in lessons to engage learners.
Have you already used this new environment in your lessons?
All the partner schools and teachers made different lesson plans and tested them in the context of sample lessons. I used Moodle, which is the first learning environment in our school, and also Mentimeter. I would say that our teachers are quite digitally literate and the use of e-environments is common. The schools and teachers involved in the project were able to explore and experiment with different methods of engagement. This was a great value for all. But it is up to the teacher to decide how to structure the lesson, which materials to use or which tool to apply. The more options he knows, the more he can adapt lessons to the learners. But of course, once AudIT was in the testing phase, I tried and tested all the different options myself.
Who else was involved in the project?
From VOCO the project was coordinated by Signe Vedler. Teachers were Vilve Pohla, Katrin Kask-Adamson and myself. Internationally, two other Slovenian schools were involved: Anton Martin Slomšek Institute and Maribor Secondary School of Economics and Gymnasium. From Croatia, the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing of the University of Zagreb was involved in the development of the AudIT application. The project was led by the Aquilonis d.o.o. from Croatia.
The project is in its final stages, and you will soon start to present the results. Who would you recommend to use the AudIT application?
Of course, I would recommend you to try and test the application. There are many applications to engage learners, but the most important difference is still the Estonian language. For those who don’t want to use English apps, there is now a good alternative. The AudIT address is http://audit.altii.online/
The project “Active learning through improved interactivity” was co-funded by European Union Erasmus+ programme.