Tikas – Learning ICT More Easily (TIKAS)

Published on: 30/11/2007
Tikas is an innovative ICT training model designed for student groups with special needs. Tikas aims to assist educational establishments, associations and other organisations in providing ICT tuition for learners with special needs of all different ages. Tikas gives comprehensive support to students who are learning basic ICT skills. Learning is supported by qualified Tikas-instructors, detailed goals and learning material adapted for student groups with special needs. Owing to its flexibility, Tikas gives them a chance to proceed in their ICT-studies individually according to their own capabilities.

Policy Context

All citizens require the basic ICT skills to enjoy the same quality of life as others in the information society. Many students need special support in learning the basic ICT skills. Well-designed and well-implemented ICT tuition gives students the skills they need in order to function as equal members of the information society (Tikas helps to participate in societal activities, increases employment opportunities and makes the society more accessible and inclusive). Tikas helps to prevent exclusion from the information society.

Description of target users and groups

Tikas is designed for student groups with special needs. Tikas aims to assist educational establishments, associations and other organisations in providing ICT tuition for learners with special needs of all different ages. Tikas will benefit, among others, people with intellectual disabilities, the autistic, those studying according to an individual syllabus and people with reading and learning difficulties. Tikas is also ideal for elderly people, immigrants and people with multilingual backgrounds who have insufficient knowledge of the official languages of their country of residence.

Description of the way to implement the initiative

The Tikas Curriculum describes the skills a student must adopt in order to use various computer programs: Using a computer; Word processing; Internet; E-mail; Drawing; Presentation graphics; Digital photographing and editing; Spreadsheets. Students can study the sections they need individually in the order of their choice. Each section is divided into three levels of difficulty. Learners can choose among these different levels according to their needs and capabilities. The Curriculum is based on the requirements of the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) and have been adapted for students with special needs. A student can receive a special Tikas ICT Certificate (doesn’t require passing a separate test). The Certificate provides thorough information that gives a new teacher or employer accurate details on the student’s skills. The Certificate has been seen to motivate students to learn more ICT-skills and to help them form a clear view of his or her own skills/abilities.

Technology solution

VerkkoTikas E-learning environment is based on Moodle technology, open source. The Internet-based VerkkoTikas environment has been developed as an operational environment independent of time and place. The VerkkoTikas consists of a web service and an e-learning environment for Instructor in-service training. The contents of the VerkkoTikas web service include: - Evaluation forms - Easy-to-read PDF guidebooks - Learning material (i.e. exercises) - Tips for teaching - An opportunity to exchange views with other Tikas instructors - Current information concerning ICT and teaching Technology choice: Mainly (or only) open standards

Main results, benefits and impacts

Experienced ICT instructors and special needs teachers have been involved in developing Tikas. Their input has been valuable in choosing the contents and in producing and testing the material. Tikas tuition is provided by educational establishments. The tuition is given by a qualified Tikasinstructor and is based on the Tikas Curriculum and easy-to read -material. Tikas has produced a series of textbooks to teach basic ICT skills in plain language. The textbooks help students learn the basic ICT skills. The requirements of students with special needs have been considered in the language and layout of the textbooks. All the instructions have been converted easy-to-read language, and the text is supported with a large number of pictures. The teachers In-Service training covers designing and implementing ICT tuition for student groups with special needs as well as using and producing learning material. The training emphasises the adaptation and implementation of the Tikas Curriculum. In addition, the principles of plain language and its use in tuition are taught. Training is implemented in a versatile way: the Internet-based learning environment is supplemented with activating, face-to-face learning periods.

Return on investment

Return on investment: Not applicable / Not available

Track record of sharing

There are 320 trained Tikas teachers and trainers in Finland. They teach ICT-skill (Tikas-tuition) in 105 different school and educational establishments. More than 2500 Tikas ICT-Certificates has been given to the students with special needs. Tikas was invited to Learn and work from the best conference in Graz, Austria in 2006. Tikas is working closely with The Finnish National Board of Education. They support Tikas In-Service training to personnel working on the education field. We believe that Tikas could make a difference in other EU countries too. Many of them have ECDL-test centers, but they are not focused on Cognitive disability like Tikas is. We are looking partners who would be interested in disseminating Tikas in their own country’s education sector. The partners should be professional in the education and/or publishing fields, since the education system differs in different EU countries, to make the implementation suitable for their own countries systems, laws and needs. Tikas was awarded as a Best practises in 2004 in training and learning by the Finnish Prime Minister. Tikas has also been a registered trade mark since 2005

Lessons learnt

Lesson 1 - With good planning and a strong believe you can make the difference in the fields of Special education. In just a few years many lives have changed since their (SEN people) own believes not be able to be a part of ICT-world has changed. The key issue is to give something concrete to the teachers and the concept and contents they teach can change. They do make the difference! Not just new strategies – a concrete tool how to carry out the strategy. Lesson 2 - Easy to read language is a vital part of special education, but still not so well know in the fields of education. So many teachers do their masters and do not know anything about the plain language. Scope: National