ITMO.EXPERT Project Lets Educators Share Digital Teaching Experience
ITMO University has launched the ITMO. EXPERT project, aimed at helping teachers use digital technology in their work and make the educational process more effective. Some of ITMO’s academic staff have already taken part in three courses so far: digital tools, teamwork, and game technology in education.
The main purpose of the project is to facilitate the use of modern educational technologies at ITMO University and thus increase the quality of education. What is special about this project is that it is teachers themselves who arrange seminars and workshops for their colleagues. The project's emphasis is not on theoretical knowledge but on practical skills necessary for future work.
“We can see that many teachers are willing to use modern technologies in their work and share experience with each other. A key feature of the ITMO.EXPERT project is peer learning, with participants taking on the roles of both a teacher and a student. Everyone here is an active member of our ITMO.FAMILY who wants to help carry out the university’s goal of transforming its educational system”, commented Aliya Bagautdinova, head of the Department of Academic Affairs at ITMO University.
Within the project, there are several courses, each focusing on one specific problem. Three courses have already been launched, including courses on digital tools, teamwork, and game technology in education.
About the Courses
The course on digital tools for education was organized by Antonina Puchkovskaya, a teacher at the Foreign Languages Department. The course consisted of three parts. First, the participants learned how to create digital educational environments where teachers constantly communicate with their students instead of just conducting lectures. Then, there was a workshop, during which the participants tried their hand at creating an interactive educational program with the use of Google tools and got feedback from Ms. Puchkovskaya. And finally, for their last class, the participants learned how to use the app Trello for project management.
“Many teachers already use various digital tools in their work, so the purpose of these workshops was to find out what tools are the most effective. I think that Google offers many tools for enhancing the classroom environment, e.g. Google Drive. Many teachers also use Trello. Theoretically, it would be great if all our teachers used the same tools, but that’s not the most important thing right now. It is much more important to understand that use of digital tools is an international trend and we have to use them, too, if we want to remain up-to-date. The main advantage of these technologies is that they help us systematize information and thus make the educational process more effective”, shared Ms. Puchkovskaya.
The course on teamwork was coordinated by educational expert Tatiana Emanuel. During the course, teachers discussed teamwork-related methods and techniques which can be used in education, as well as talked about how to approach students unwilling to work in teams.
“All the teachers who attended my seminar recognize the need to introduce new technologies in education. And what is interesting, they don’t see it as a chore, but as an opportunity to enhance the quality of the educational process”, noted Ms. Emanuel.
She also spoke about the reasons for engaging students in teamwork. First, it allows students to strengthen their knowledge. Second, teamwork helps students to develop soft skills, such as communication and project management skills. And third, interactive forms of learning decrease students' fatigue and promote a better understanding of materials.
Stanislav Reznikov, a professor at ITMO’s Department of Mechatronics, organized a workshop on game techniques in education and told the audience about the advantages of this approach.
“When working with students, everything is important. When meeting your students for the first time, be sincere, tell them a bit about yourself and your research work, let them feel that you are also human. It will help them get motivated. As for game techniques, there are many ways to motivate students as well, such as various competitions, badges, and rewards. Teamwork can be of great help, too. If handled properly, these techniques benefit both students and teachers”, said Mr. Reznikov.
As part of the ITMO.EXPERT project, there will be three more courses:
- Project-based learning (organizational skills and project management);
- Blended learning (combining online digital media with traditional classroom methods);
- Young teachers’ school (course creation and communication with students from Generation Z).
“ITMO.EXPERT is a place where teachers can share their ideas about the educational process and form groups depending on their interests and preferences, in which they can then continue discussing various specific issues”, added Olga Eliseeva, head of the Department of Educational Quality Assurance, and ITMO.EXPERT project manager.
ITMO.NEWS talked to some of the teachers who took part in the first three courses and asked them about their impressions of the project.
Olga Silvanovitch, professor at the Department of Advanced Mathematics
I participated in the seminar on digital tools, such as Google and Trello, and in the workshop on teamwork skills, and I can say that I have already introduced some of these techniques in my work. In my opinion, Google Sites is a very handy tool for uploading all the information on a course and sharing it with other people, while Trello is a perfect tool for organizing collaborative projects.
As for game technologies in education, I know that they’ve become really popular recently, but I think we should approach them with caution. Otherwise, education will turn into a game.
Anton Antipov, professor at the Department of Customs and Logistics
I attended four classes: on Google tools, on interactive technologies, and two classes on game technologies. As I generally teach soft skills, it was just an opportunity for me to strengthen my skills. I think that all the courses lacked specific examples of how these techniques can be used in any field. I found the course on teamwork especially well-prepared. Team-based education is a major trend right now, and it produces great results. In the future, I’d also like to hear more about the use of technology as part of computer lab classes.
Marina Govorova, teacher at the Faculty of Secondary Vocational Education
I attended all the classes. The first two courses were devoted to the things that I had already known, but there were still some things I found interesting. The third course was the most useful for me, as it gave me an opportunity to learn something new and learn about the author’s experience of using these methods when working with his students.
“The project is continually developing. We are currently working on new courses and inviting teachers to participate both as speakers and students. More information about the project can be found on the project's website”, added Ekaterina Dzhavlakh, head of the Office of Educational Technologies.