A Step Ahead: Estonia Emerges as a Leader in Worldwide Distance Learning Experiment


Since gaining independence in the early 1990s, Estonia has transformed itself into a digital society, which has resulted in a high level of public trust in technology solutions. While Estonia is perhaps best known for its advances in e-governance, which allow Estonians to access nearly all government services online, this commitment to technology applies to education as well. Estonia’s efforts to leverage technology for teaching and learning began in the 1990s with an ambitious programto build up schools’ technology infrastructure, including providing internet access to all schools nationwide. By the early 2000s, Estonia had already met this goal and moved on to developing digital resources for online teaching and learning. Throughout these early years and in the years that followed, as new technologies and digital resources were introduced, Estonia maintained a parallel focus on building digital literacy skills among educators and students. For example, school-based educational technologists—experienced teachers who complete an additional master’s degree to become technology integration specialists—have supported teachers in Estonian schools since 2005. Their focus is on how digital resources can best be used to enhance the curriculum. 

Two government-supported foundations—the Innove Foundation, founded in 2003 to provide implementation support for the Ministry of Education and Research, and the Information Technology Foundation for Education(HITSA), founded in 2013 to promote digital skills development in education—have played key roles in centrally organizing and curating Estonia’s collection of digital resources. These resources, which today form the backbone of Estonia’s jurisdiction-level support for distance learning, are described below.