In the little country of Estonia, there is a company called the Tiger Leap Foundation, which has long been known for it's hand in education and e-learning. Now, the Tiger Leap Foundation has a new division called ProgTiiger, which is headed by Ave Lauringson. Lauringson sat down with me for an open and honest Skype interview to tell me all about the ProgTiiger program and give some ideas on how we can integrate it here in the U.S.
AAAS MemberCentral (AAASMC): It's hard to find any information about how the ProgTiiger program works in English. Can you give us a quick overview of how it works?
Ave Lauringson, ProgeTiiger's Project Manager: ProgeTiiger is funded by the government and made of volunteers. The volunteers are the teachers that are interested in learning coding and then teaching [the] programming skills they learned.
AAASMC: Can you tell us about the training the volunteers go through?
Lauringson: ProgeTiiger has set up and compiled freely available information into training packets. These packets are available for different types of learning for the teacher, so they can either go into a classroom and learn or do a 4-week e-learning.
AAASMC: What kind of programming are the teachers and students getting introduced to?
Lauringson: There are several different coding and programming platforms that are available and introduced. Some examples are Code Gameware, Logo, and Scratch.
AAASMC: Is there any difficulty in teaching the logic and math behind programming for the younger students?
Lauringson: No, because there are several programming platforms out there that are a lot like playing a game. The logic and math are integrated in at that step. The math and logic are mostly taught at high school and up and integrated into their other subjects as well.
AAASMC: What has been the biggest hurdle for ProgeTiiger so far?
Lauringson: Most of the information out there is in English. Most of the Estonian teachers speak and read Estonian much faster, so translating the material has been the hardest part.
AAASMC: What advice can you give to us in America to initiate similar programs here?
Lauringson: All you need is a PC, some interest, and a willingness to learn. There is a lot of information, most of which we have compiled on the Estonian version of our website. The links to the types of software and directions are all in English though.
This is all about learning and teaching each other, so don't be afraid to learn. It's more collaboration, which can work beautifully.
More information about Tiger Leap Foundation, ProgeTiiger, and Ave Lauringson can be found below.