You are here

Presidency Conference ´Contemporary Approaches to Learning and Teaching´ logo

Presidency Conference in Tallinn, Estonia
19-20 September, 2017
Venue: Tallinn University, Narva mnt 25, Tallinn 10120


The conference focuses on the adaptation of learning and teaching roles in response to the wide-ranging and increasingly rapid pace of change in Europe and the world at large. New technologies are entering our workplaces and homes encouraging and compelling us to learn new skills and acquire new knowledge. In addition, the world remains in flux and huge advances in scientific understanding of human behaviour have taken place and consequently new challenges constantly emerge. However, education systems are slow to change and adapt to new realities. Traditional learning and teaching practices continue to dominate our education systems.

While the education offered by EU countries tends to be of high quality, our traditional teaching and learning practices and the knowledge on offer do not sufficiently meet the emergent demands of a world in flux. The generational gap in values and behavioural patterns is deepening. How do we ensure that our children and young people are satisfied with their educational experience – that they are happy to attend school and further educational institutions whilst also gaining required knowledge and competencies? How do we ensure young people become open to the world, willing and capable of assuming supportive as well as leadership roles, and that they take responsibility for the wellbeing of the world around them? Best practices capable of meeting these demands can be found across Europe including in Estonia. The conference aims to shine a light on these and discuss how they can be applied more widely, and calls on European countries to devote greater coordinated attention to the changing roles of teachers, schools and other educational institutions.

The conference also seeks to build a shared and coherent understanding of key educational research results and how these can support student learning and achievement. Our challenge is to find evidence-based, effective and efficient ways of ensuring our education systems evolve in an optimal manner to address both long-standing and newly emerging needs. We invite participants to contribute to discussions about best practices and their widespread implementation organised around the following three main overlapping themes:

  • stakeholder engagement,
  • educator and learner engagement and autonomy, 
  • the building of effective learning environments that address the needs of a world in flux.

We expect for the reports and discussions to be based not only on the best practices or methodologies, but also on recent educational research.

Moderator: Artur Taevere, Senior Schools Advisor at British Council


Presentations, videos and pictures


  • Presentations

Mindshifts related to learning. Prof. P. Robert-Jan Simons

Educational neuroscience – using insights into brain function to shape educational practices. Prof. Michael S. C. Thomas

Combined child-related and contextual factors that support learning outcomes and well-being. Examples from Estonian research. Prof. Eve Kikas

Which education systems support a more equal and effective acquisition of skills at a later age? Prof. Andy Green

Benefits of hybrid systems and double-qualifications – the case of Austria. DI. Dr. Jörg Markowitsch

Transition between upper secondary and higher education - student success according to background, and policies to improve success rates. Gro Beate Vige

Different contexts for learning: why do we need to make learning meaningful (and why we often fail in that)? PhD Grete Arro

Education to employment: getting Europe´s youth into work. Carlos Bertrán Sundheim

Engaging guest teachers to learning. Teibi Torm

Opportunities for teacher professional development in Estonia: supporting teacher autonomy and collaboration with colleagues. Prof. Äli Leijen

Towards a personal, flexible and engaged way of studying: the Studium Individuale as an example of making European HE more relevant and contemporary. Dr. Volker Balli

Outcomes of the peer learning activity on “Teaching generations Y & Z: pedagogical challenges in T&L environments in higher education”, held in Paris, 12-13 July 2017. Julie Anderson

Conceptual model for designing learning and teaching for the future. Prof. Margus Pedaste

Learning and teaching in Europe: from the learning lab to the school. Prof. Andreas Demetriou

  • Videos

DAY 1 - Recording of the conference

DAY 2 - Recording of the conference

Visual conclusions of the parallel sessions

  • Pictures



Monday, 18 September

20:00 Networking dinner

Tuesday, 19 September

9:00-11:30 School visits

The purpose of school visits is discussing how schools have engaged stakeholders through values-based management and leadership policies in order to interpret education policies, and foster the development of a student- and learning-centred school culture.
11:30-13:00 Registration and lunch
13:00-13:30 Welcome and opening address
Mrs. Mailis Reps, Estonian Minister of Education and Research
Ms. Sophia Eriksson Waterschoot, Director, Directorate General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture, European Commission
13:30-15:00 Keynote speeches
15:00-15:30 Coffee break
15:30-17:00 Parallel sessions

Parallel session 1:
Moderator: Janno Järve, Senior Analyst, Estonian Centre for Applied Research (CentAR)

Topic: a learning environment which is supportive of a student’s transition from one level of schooling to the next, and of developing skills throughout life.

How to shape a school environment in which teaching does not start or end at the moment that the student is in the presence of a teacher, but, rather, an environment which fosters the learner’s internal motivation for curiosity, studying outside of direct instruction, finding meaning in learning, as well as receiving a sense of assurance and security that the acquired competency will help them in the next level of schooling, as well as in life?

The effects of upper-secondary education and training systems on skills inequality. A quasi-cohort analysis using PISA 2000 and the OECD survey of adult skills.


Parallel session 2:
Moderator: Artur Taevere, Senior Schools Advisor at British Council

Topic: how can external stakeholders help make learning more effective?
Subtopics: a) engaging businesses and community organisations, and b) improving student movitation, knowledge and skills

Learning can happen beyond traditional classrooms and it can be supported by people who are not traditional teachers. External stakeholders can help make learning more effective. Businesses and community organisations can bring important benefits to students: (1) better motivation, (2) deeper knowledge, and (3) better skills. Students are more motivated when they place value on the content of learning and when they find it meaningful. Deeper knowledge and better understanding are attained when real life examples are regularly connected with accurate, scientific explanations. Better skills are learned when relevant curricula are carefully designed and effectively delivered. These curricula may be focused on content knowledge or skills such as communication, problem solving, digital skills, etc. Often, the programmes are more relevant when they are designed and delivered in collaboration with employers or community organisations. All participants are encouraged to tweet their thoughts and questions using the hashtag #EffectiveLearning.


Parallel session 3:
Moderator: Julie Anderson, Policy Officer, Higher Education, Directorate-General for Education and Culture, European Commission

Topic: the expectations and roles of students and learners from the new generation

The parallel session will have a strong focus on the differences between the generations in terms on teaching and learning, the changing role of the teachers and learners, how should the current and the new generation be taught, how higher education systems are supporting educators to meet the needs of the new generation student population, include how teachers’ autonomy, collaboration and changes in their pedagogical beliefs and instructional practices could be supported.

18:45 Guided walking tour in the Old Town to the dinner venue
20:00 Formal dinner 

Wednesday, 20 September

9:00-9:30 Morning coffee
11:00-12:00 Keynote speech
12:00-13:00 Lunch


Last updated: 29 September 2017