A school year-long joint pilot project by Microsoft, the Estonian Ministry of Education, and the Tallinn City Strategy Centre tested the modernization of the studying process in Tallinn Jaervotsa Gymnasium in the context of the history lesson. Equipped with Surface devices, the classroom positively influenced the studying process – among many outcomes, the project reduced the time needed to organize the lessons and enabled higher student involvement.
In coordination with the Tallinn City Strategy Centre, Microsoft offered Surface classroom pilot for representatives of Jaervotsa Gymnasium in Tallinn, run by a teacher well-versed in Microsoft Education technologies. It’s a classroom scenario for history class from 4th to 9th grade where 27 student Surface Go 3 and 2 teacher Surface Pro 8 devices were loaned for the whole school year (August 2022 – June 2023). The tablets can be used as usual for writing, coding, and research. The A4-size Surface device resembles an ordinary piece of paper, which can be read like a book and on which notes can be made with a special pen, similar to a notebook.
After the launch in August, there was an extensive check-in interview between Microsoft and the teacher in November, where she shared several improvements and learnings from experience. According to Andra Pikkel, a history teacher at Järveotsa Gümnaasium, digital learning has made the teacher’s daily workload much easier. “Students can be sent assignments at the same time. There is no need to print out the worksheets, hand them out, collect them, and take them home for grading,” explained Pikkel. “Students’ work can be assessed anytime, anywhere with access to a computer, and feedback reaches students instantly. Student comments also reach the teacher instantaneously.”
Positive tagging was also boosted by Reflect, a feedback system that allows students to give feedback in their way using emoticons. “Students are more comfortable giving feedback privately than in front of other students. This way, we can better engage young people in their learning, address problem areas and build confidence. In the long term, this improves both academic performance and satisfaction with learning.” added Pikkel. Students on their side commented on the ergonomics of the devices: compared to usual laptops, it was easy to use the devices in the classroom, on their tables.
According to Eve Tagavälja, Tallinna Järveotsa Gümnaasium IT manager, who witnessed Surface classroom in action mid-January during the mini event, the innovative project will be continued in other schools: “We believe that the Estonian education system should always be one step ahead of the times and use elements of digital literacy already from primary school.”
Toomas Adson, project manager at the Ministry of Education and Research, noted that Estonia is the first country to implement this pilot project. “For the student, a developmentally supportive school means a place where his or her potential is noticed and given the opportunity to develop to the maximum. New innovative learning solutions are certainly part of this. We look forward to receiving further feedback.”
Oliver Zofic, CEE Senior Solution Specialist for Education at Microsoft, commented, “We’re delighted to see the positive feedback we’ve received. Microsoft’s education projects aim to bring modern digital solutions to young people and contribute to the best education. Latvia and several other countries will be joining the project next”.