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On August 7, a round table on the topic "Online education: challenges, solutions and prospects" was held at the Boiling Point site. Experts, representatives of the largest Russian universities, Federal ministries and the business community discussed the features and prospects of remote education. This is the 2nd round table on the formation of business infrastructure "at a remote location" in the economy, which was organized with the support of the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia.
During the discussion, Svyatoslav Sorokin, adviser to the Minister of economic development of the Russian Federation, supported the initiative of higher education institutions on the need to improve the digital skills of teachers to ensure high-quality training of specialists for all sectors of the economy.
The high speed of changes in the education market caused by the transition to the distance format due to the coronavirus pandemic has become a great challenge for all educational organizations in the country. 24 million users – 1.5 million teachers from schools and universities, 16 million schoolchildren and 7 million students almost simultaneously had to switch from the classical educational model to the distance learning format. Representatives of universities expressed concern about the lack of digital skills of teachers. So, the Vice-rector of MSTU named after N.E. Bauman Boris Padalkin noted that teachers have a high need to constantly improve their skills with various software products to interact with students - VCS, messengers, chats and "virtual laboratories", cloud technologies and specialized programs.
Oleg Podolsky, managing Director of the Center for human resources competence for the digital economy of the University 2035, noted: "Over the course of the pandemic, a number of resources have been created to help teachers, education administrators, students, school children, and parents in a proactive manner with the participation of Edtech businesses and leaders. Within the framework of the Federal project "Personnel for the Digital Economy", we will also continue to develop a block aimed at improving digital competencies in educational professions and pedagogy." So, this year, 33 thousand people will be able to pass free training in digital areas of the economy under the state grant "Personal digital certificates". Both teachers and employees of educational institutions can take full advantage of this opportunity."
However, the round table participants also discussed the cost of distance education. Representatives of the University community agreed that at the moment, when each University forms its own infrastructure and methodology for remote activities, it is not necessary to talk about a significant reduction in prices for education.
Issak Frumin, research Director of the HSE Institute of education, explained that universities incur significant costs for purchasing software, reformatting educational programs into an accessible format that "can hold attention", programming and security services. It is possible to reduce the economic costs of universities and educational organizations by creating "joint educational resources (platforms)", a kind of modular synchronized eco-environment for universities and teachers in various fields of study.
According to preliminary forecasts, Russian universities expect up to 30% decrease in cash receipts from non-budgetary sources, which may lead to increased lending and an increase in requests for the need to cover the deficit of educational institutions' budgets.
"Of course, we do not yet fully understand all the possible economic consequences. Opinion polls on this issue are contradictory, and it is difficult to rely on them when calculating the economic forecast for the development of the education sector in the medium term," Sergey Yegorov noted, Vice-rector of Moscow State University named after Lomonosov.
To address the issues of economic consequences and the organization of quality education for the Russian economy in a remote format, the participants of the round table agreed to create a separate expert group within the competence Center for personnel for the digital economy with the participation of the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia, higher educational institutions, educational and public organizations, as well as other Federal Executive authorities.
"The Ministry of Economic Development of Russia is working on updating the Federal project "Personnel for the Digital Economy", in which the proposals of educational institutions and the working group on the economy of education will be taken into account," Svyatoslav Sorokin summed up the round table.