Online Education Promotes the Development of Digital Education and Big Data Analysis

15 march 2017

A project analytical session devoted to implementation of the priority project ‘Contemporary Digital Educational Environment in the Russian Federation’ was held on the premises of the Analytical Center.

Opening the event, Vladimir Timonin, Deputy Director of the Governmental Higher Education Policy Department of the Ministry of Science of Russia, reminded that the priority project “Contemporary Digital Educational Environment in the Russian Federation” (CDEE RF) was approved on October 25, 2016 at the meeting of the presidium of the Presidential Council for Strategic Development and Priority Projects. The expert noted that functional areas were identified within the project, including: creation of governmental services and integration solutions, regulatory and legal support to online education development, creation of a system to evaluate the quality of online courses.

“In the century of global mobile Internet, digital technologies are vital,” thinks Mr. Yuri Linkov, Head of the Department for Internet Technologies and Data Processing of the Analytical Center. It is also necessary to monitor continuous improvements and transformation of these technologies, believes the expert. “Even now, leading positions in the employment market require a high level of digital literacy,” said the expert. “Today, the online education market grows by 27% per year. In 2016, over 50 million people studied distantly and 800,000 out of them were Russians.” According to Mr. Linkov, the development of online education is a prerequisite for transition to cross-cutting technologies and this is the next step in the development of digital education and big data analysis.

The purpose of this project is to create conditions for systemic improvement of the quality and expansion of opportunities for lifelong education for all categories of people due to development of the Russian digital educational space by 2018,” said Mr. Vasily Tretyakov, a developer of the consolidated plan for the CDEE priority project. “And to increase the number of learning educational organizations that master online courses, to 11 million people by the end of 2025.” Currently, according to the expert, the development of online education is hampered by its low credibility. Furthermore, there are no unified approaches to evaluate the quality of online courses and mechanisms to ensure a steady growth of their quality, thinks Mr. Tretyakov.

“Although the project was to cover the entire education system, the developer clarified that at that point it related only to higher and partially to secondary vocational education. When declaring the goal to create prerequisites for improving the quality and expanding opportunities for lifelong education for all categories of people, results of the project were narrowed to online courses and our idea was to transfer online courses from informal education to the formal one, said Mrs. Inna Karakchieva, an expert of the Analytical Center. “However, we faced difficulties even with the very definitions of the “contemporary educational environment” and “online course”. Missing regulatory and legal framework of this terminology, a variety of approaches to indicators for evaluating the contemporaneity of educational environment and ambiguous interpretation of “digital educational environment” result not only in dispelling efforts and choosing diametrically opposite implementation approaches, but also substituting systemic changes with short-term changes.”

Within the discussion, the experts also identified some technical and regulatory problems. The experts mentioned inability to transfer electronically information about learning outcomes in relation to a specific student. Most online education platforms do not ensure reliable evaluation of learning outcomes. According to the experts, it is important to create a single technological block for information storage and introduce an electronic document flow.

Participants of the event paid special attention to discussion of the “one window” resource, a catalog of online courses and register of reliable evaluations.