Diocese House in Moscow

Notes on the moodle section of the conference Digital Education – 21st Century.

The conference website is at http://edu-forum.pro/en

The Conference was held in Moscow Diocesan House which is the main building of Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox University. We had a tour of it at the end of the day, which I will describe at the end of this entry. Most of the proceedings were divided into three sections:

Online communication in distance education

Education for the digital Economy. Sanctions Correction

And the Moodle section, which I attended. Recordings of all three are available in youtube in this channel. These are my notes on the moodle section…

Morning Session

The morning session was moderated by Anton Ambrazhey – Moodle in contemporary education: technical tools and possibilities on youtube at https://youtu.be/QDdytFfflnw

Aleksei Dyachenko – founder of Otkritie Technologii, Moscow spoke on mixed or “blended” learning. The term in Russian “смешанное обучение» usually refers to blended learning. Here Diyanchenko was focussing on mixtures of synchronous and asychronous activities. He sees this aspect as more fundamental than the use or non-use of communications technology. However, he also pointed out that many failures of video-conferencing classes were due to the fact that teachers didn’t realise that this medium was different from the face-to-face classroom.

Sergei Tolpygin – chief engineer, Polytechnical University, Saint Petersburg spoke on some advantages of using cloud storage such as Amazon’s s3 for large files. In the case of video files, this allows the use of api speech tools to create subtitles and translated subtitles. There were some questions about how far this could all happen without extra complications for users.

Sergei Kinash – Head of Laboratory, The Orthodox University, Moscow spoke about streamlining the complicated process of student recruitment and creating individual contracts with each one. The admissions office has a block in Moodle which allows them to efficiently generate a contract as an electronic document in pdf format which can be signed by students and returned.

Olga Ananieva – Head of Laboratory, Volga State University of Technology, Yoshkar-Ola spoke on the gradual process of creating higher quality online learning. The most surprising and original aspect of the approach on the site https://mooped.net/ is the idea of the “face of the course” – which is a face that takes on a range of expressions from sad to happy depending on various statistical indicators of engagement and results of students in the course. These are calculated from weekly reports, so the face can give feedback to teachers and managers about the situation in a course.

Afternoon Session

The afternoon session was moderated by Rinat Gimranov– Moodle in contemporary education: the possibilities of Pedagogical Design on youtube at https://youtu.be/lPgs8C-2p34

Anton Ambrazhey – director of “Polytech-SAP” centre, Polytechnical University, Saint Petersburg spoke on the experience of training students in large numbers for work with software for ERP (Enterprise resource planning). He compares the workflow of creating courses with cooking a pie. The key stage is “онбординг» (onboarding) so that students feel supported in their learning from the very start.

Lyubov Krasheninnikova, teacher at Humanitarian Institute, Polytechnical University, Saint Petersburg spoke on personalisation of study as a potential solution to the “crisis of motivation”. The approach mentioned backward design, and “constructive alignment” (конструктивное выранивание) by which the assessment methods ought to agree with the supposed aims of the course. Personalising learning, then, depends on the chance for students to choose what their aims should be.

Suren Manukyants – Head of Laboratory, Volga State University of Technology, Yoshkar-Ola spoke about the development of online learning since 2013. The Moodle Open Education portal has been working since 2014 and it began with in-service training for teachers. The present “Practicum” course on Moodle is the third iteration of training for teachers on Moodle. This has some interesting features: instructions that allow for different approaches – these are in the form of pdf documents which give 3 levels of support for the tasks: (a) a preamble, (b) some more schematic instructions and (c) a step-by-step manual with detailed instructions and pictures. Tasks in the practicum are automatically assessed. The trainee teachers get tasks to set up courses and activities correctly and get instant feedback on how well they have followed the instructions.

Elizaveta Vorobchikova – Head of Distance Learning department, “Professional”, Moscow spoke about the process of designing courses for adult ongoing education. Here the huge variety of backgrounds of students is a major factor and also the skills which they are aiming to acquire which could be anything from android programming to warehouse staff. Some elements of the process are suggested by ideas from the US tradition of “instructional design” such as ADDIE. Here the five stages are labelled (1) концепция курса, (2) программа курса, (3) создание контента (4) Реализация курса (5) редактирование курса. There’s an interesting division of roles between two subject experts, a pedagogical designer and a methodologist.

Lyudmila Popova – Teacher and Researcher at The Earth Science Museum, Moscow State University, Moscow spoke about the professional development of teachers working online. She has researched the activities of the portal for open courses https://distant.msu.ru/ . One surprising (perhaps) result is the excellent results of participants from Surgut.

At the end of the day we had an excursion in the building which has an important place in Russian history. It was built at the very start of the 20th century. As part of the fast development of civil society and democratic reforms of the early 20th century, it was the location of the Council – a democratic system to replace the Tsar and the Synod as the head of the Orthodox church by electing a Patriarch. Tikhon was chosen just at the moment when the Bolsheviks were seizing power in Petrograd. This was followed by years of civil war, repression and famine. The last church service in the building was held in 1922.

The building was returned to the church after a long legal dispute, and restored. We visited the Upper Church which has a very fine iconostasis, and, as we left, some musicians had begun practising there.

  • Teacher of English as a foreign language and specialist in distance education

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