Rector of the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation Mikhail A. Eskindarov gave an interview to the joint project of the Telegram-channel "Scientific and Educational Policy" and "University 2035", dedicated to resources and technologies used by universities while moving to online training.
What methods did the university choose while switching to distance learning?
— Financial University moved to online classes on March 17. Teachers use an internal information and educational portal, testing system, cloud services, social networks, video conferencing, and etc. I consider it to be a very successful and effective solution to follow the curriculum, which was and still remains the main organisational driver both for students and teachers. Today the schedule contains active links to virtual classes in MS Teams and links to Vkontakte communities. This allowed all students and teachers to connect quickly online. A special hotline has been created. Students are actively involved in organising and controlling the educational process, these are very important moments. Monitors of the groups, Student Council, and volunteers are attracted as well.
Did everything work well? Did you face with any difficulties? Do you need any additional support?
— The main difficulty is that teaching staff is not ready to move online. Volunteers provide support to elderly teachers who are less proficient in using digital educational technologies. A large-scale training for teachers in a form of short video lectures, methodical instructions, or explanations has been started to help them acquire new digital tools for the educational process.
The library opened remote access to all resources, and in just two days, the number of visits increased by three times. We have more than a thousand of FinU online courses and video lectures, which are now introduced to the working process. Our teachers give lectures and seminars using such platforms as MS Teams, Adobe Connect, and Zoom. The main difficulty is our dimensions. Our university has 27 branches, which also switched to distance education. So it is of vital importance to synchronise work, create a support system for teachers, especially elderly ones, and show them simple digital solutions that can be effectively used in the educational process. All the necessary software is in an open access "Digital Tool Box". This tool box is open to everyone.
What do teachers and students think about the new system?
— They are very calm. Young teachers are very enthusiastic. Of course, there are many questions left. There are a lot of concerns over the finals, mid-terms, and internships. These issues are addressed consistently. But everyone, both teachers and students, understand that the main thing is not to drop the quality of education and help each other in the current situation.