I would like to start by the IT Academy’s nationally conceived grant programme that has given many opportunities in the IT field to have a broader perspective on things.
What this has led to is earmarked funding for study programmes – the programme manager has funds for developing the programme.
We have taken advantage of this in various ways – we have implemented a wide range of projects, for instance a project where we provide mentorship to students. We particularly monitor students during the first semester – we know in the IT faculty that this is the time when the drop-out rate is the highest. We put an extra effort on them, we organise events outside the university for them to tighten the links between students and the university.
TalTech has developed a lot of courses outside the university. The popular Elements of AI, which also had international participation, is just one of them. We also have cyber security programmes for example one called the CyberSpike for school pupils.
This autumn I offered a fundamentals of programming course for secondary school students, to which almost 300 students have enrolled as of today. This gives pupils an idea of whether this speciality might suit them already prior to enrolment at university. We have partner schools that have spread the word among students about this. Thanks to this we have had roughly 300 pupils enrolling already, but considering that we started only two weeks ago, I expect this figure to rise. This project was developed in cooperation with the Network of Estonian Teachers of Informatics and Computer Science.
From perspective of the university, I would like to mention that I personally have received a lot of support from the university for delivering a range of study programmes and training courses. If I have an idea, the university supports that. I find it easy to make my ideas happen and the university has been a good source of support.
The entire Moodle project that we have today: moodle.taltech.ee, partially evolved from one of my courses. I had an idea, I received support from the university and the idea was implemented: now we have a single Moodle environment for the entire university.
All the courses that we offer to pupils, be it the national examination course taken by thousands of pupils, contributed – especially given the circumstances – to the success at national examinations. Likewise, the programming or Elements of IA courses have taken teaching outside the university. TalTech is more broadly on the radar than just for those who become our students! This is a good thing and gives us an advantage: pupils already know which university they might choose.
Without doubt one important aspect is our colleagues. I myself work in excellent company – everyone working on the study programme or at the institute, are fans of their job. When we need to work on new exciting projects, everyone contributes, nobody complains. The working environment is brilliant. I would like to emphasize this, and the university has made this possible - we have fun, and we support each other.