Pedagogicum of the University of Tartu is coordinating teacher education at the university and ensuring collaboration of teacher education departments and schools. Pedagogicum represents the University in issues of teacher education and educational research, organizes activities in these fields and makes proposals for initiating and updating legislation on teacher education and education in general. In addition to Estonian collaborations, the Pedagogicum also supports international communication.
The role of the Pedagogicum in updating teacher education
By 2008, several of the University of Tartu’s units had been actively involved in teacher education and educational sciences for a long time. It was possible to study to become a teacher in six faculties and two colleges. Each unit stood for its own interests and, in communicating with the university’s external partners, including the Ministry of Education and Research, it may have appeared that the various departments of the university were in competition with each other and there was no institution to address general issues in teacher education. The field was fragmented. On 25 April 2008, a Rector’s Order was signed in preparation for the establishment of the Pedagogicum. Three issues to be addressed were identified to be coordinating activities, assuring quality of management and maintaining an acceptable level of research activities. The founding of the Pedagogicum was led by Professor Tõnu Meidla. Under his leadership, the first statute was completed. The Pedagogicum started work on 1 January 2009 and on 30 January 2009 Margus Pedaste was elected to be its first head. He holds this position to this day.
Initially, the objectives of the Pedagogicum were to (1) develop teaching staff and doctoral studies, (2) promote education through research and analysis, (3) analyse and develop teacher training curricula, (4) upgrade teaching methods and content and develop human resources, (5) promote information and cooperation in the categories mentioned above. Later, organising funding for in-service teacher education, launching the doctoral school project, developing and furnishing university teacher education study laboratories, and other development projects were included in the list of tasks. The Pedagogicum has played an important role in applying, coordinating and reporting on all these projects within the university. The renewal of curricula for teacher training and the establishment of an Educational Innovation Centre deserve to be highlighted separately. Both of these have been key activities in renewing teacher education at the University of Tartu.
The Pedagogicum also has a very important role outside the university according to its current statute. The Pedagogicum represents the University in issues of teacher education and educational research, organises activities in these fields and makes proposals for initiating and updating legislation on teacher education and education in general. Teacher and school associations, the Ministry of Education and Research and the Estonian Qualifications Authority are very important partners in this regard. The latter certainly deserves special attention because the Pedagogicum has had a key role in updating the system of teachers’ professional standards in Estonia in cooperation with the institution. In addition to Estonian collaborations, the Pedagogicum also supports international communication. All this groundwork has led to the University of Tartu becoming the first Estonian university to be mentioned in the prestigious international Times Higher Education and QS World University Rankings in the field of educational sciences in 2019. This shows that we are moving in the right direction with our developments.
Margus Pedaste, 2009