Interview with Professor Alexei Semenov of the Moscow Institute of Open Education
Why do you think that the level of teacher preparation in the use of information and communications technology (ICT) is key to increasing the quality of education overall?
A: The main school activity of students (and teachers) is dealing with information. Today, an adult is constantly using instruments of informational activity and resources in his professional and everyday activities. It is especially significant in the innovation sectors of economy built on knowledge. For this reason we need modernized education, where the teacher works with the information on a modern basis; teaches this to his students and shows them examples of teachings, including mastery of ICTs. Secondly, ICTs allow us to more effectively reach educational goals. The importance of these goals was always understood, but today they have become both more prioritized and more achievable. I am talking, for example, about the pedagogical model where the student is discovering the truth for himself through experiment, observation, analysis, collective work and discussion.
Your Institute is known as one of the leaders in upgrading teacher qualifications in using the ICT. What has your contribution been to this success?
A: When I first started to work there, my institute was called the “Moscow Institute for Advanced Training of Education Workers” and it provided advanced training for 7,000 teachers a year. Today that number is 30,000. The spectrum of education programmes has significantly grown too. And it is precisely the work in the field of ICTs that has become one of our main areas of focus. This work is done based on one of the concepts that I formulated: the professional ICT-competence. The advanced training of each teacher in the field of ICTs and the creation of professional ICT-competence is based on the teacher’s wish to improve and the demands of his professional activity, determined together with the training specialist.
A lesson plan for next year, concretely defined by the teacher on the basis of theme and calendar dates concludes the qualification upgrading process. Resources are allocated for this planning. The results of the teacher’s and the students’ work are seen through the school’s informational environment. This technological chain is possible thanks to the institute’s authority, and my personal authority as the head of the program for information system development of the educational process in the region. We manage to realize the model of the harmonious, sustainable and synergetic informatization (information system development).
The UNESCO honorary prize was awarded to you personally. How will this award reflect on the work of your institute?
A: First, let’s talk about why the prize was awarded to me personally. The thing is, that, like many professionals working in a certain field for a long time, especially in our country, I am “wearing many hats”, as the English say. For example, in 2009, the group that I headed, where most of the members are not from our institute, was awarded a prize by the Russian government for the programme informatization of the educational system, which is conducted in several regions, excluding Moscow. I am the author of federal schoolbooks, and in addition, I work for the Moscow State University, Russian Academy of Sciences and the Russian Academy for Education. Taking that into account, without my work in Moscow, in the Russian Institute of Open Education, many projects on the federal level would have been impossible to realize.
Now let’s talk about the work of the Institute. Of course, my colleagues are happy for me, and the prize is important for them, since they understand they have contributed to it as well. In addition, they can look more confidently into the future because it is not a secret that from time to time the question of re-organizing the pedagogical education system, the complimentary professional education system, qualification upgrading and tutorial support, is raised.
What are your plans for the future? What is the first thing you are going to do upon returning to your office?
A: : The most important and urgent thing on my agenda is the ICT component of the Federal state educational standard for elementary school, and other documents related to the first stage of «Our New School». A very interesting role for ICT-competence is emerging there, as a part of universal teaching actions. Secondly it is the ICT in the Unified State Exam (USE). Under my supervision the USE materials on informatics (for maths in 2010) were developed. Within the framework of the Commission on USE improvement under the President of the Russian Federation, in which I participated, the importance of our experience in the field of computerized USE in informatics was stressed. Dmitri Medvedev was talking about it while discussing the results of the Commission’s work.
We are going to implement this project. During this implementation, it is very important to combine working in Moscow (attracting scientific-pedagogical potential of the city) with federal support. As far as my office is concerned, I have to admit that I do not spend that much time there. I have to spend a lot of time visiting the city’s schools, training centres, regional and federal governmental structures. In my office, I suppose, I will hang the award diploma, since I often don’t pay enough attention to the external attributes. I am glad you have given me this idea.
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