ORT Russia schools reach new peak at HP Summit


11 March 2010 ORT Russia schools reach new peak at HP Summit The integration of information technology in the education provided by the ORT Russia schools which last year won Hewlett-Packards Innovation in Education Grants has impressed participants at an international summit hosted by the multi-billion-dollar company in San Francisco. ORT Samara Technology Centre Director Alexander Fradkov is presented with the prize for the effective training project implemented at his school. Dr Alexander Fradkov, from ORT Gesher in Samara, and Dr Marina Moiseeva and Dr Pavel Yakushkin from the Moscow ORT Technology School, attended the HP Innovations in Education Worldwide Summit together with Tatyana Prokhorenko from the ORT de Gunzburg School in St Petersburg. They were among more than 100 higher education faculty and secondary education teachers from 23 countries at the Summit, which was hosted by the HP Office for Global Social Innovation in collaboration with the International Society for Technology in Education. The ORT schools represented one-third of Russias recipients of the grant, which comprised high-tech equipment, cash and a seat at the Summit. Through a comprehensive schedule of inspiring keynote speakers, expert panels, interactive workshops, poster sessions and professional networking opportunities, the participants all of whom had received funding to attend as part of their respective institutions Innovation in Education Grants learned about developmental trends in technology and shared how technology was being used to re-imagine the classroom. The aim, said an HP spokesman, was to accelerate the success of key projects and build a global community of educators who are using technology to provide innovative learning experiences for students. Attending the summit has helped us to understand our place in the world, said ORT Russia National Director Dr Sergey Gorinskiy. An HP innovation grant places a recipient institution in an educational elite. At the summit it became clear to us that ORT Russias schools were among the best of the best. Dr Moiseeva, the Principal of the Moscow ORT Technology School, added: Comparing our level of technological integration with the 70 or so schools and universities represented at the summit we were the strongest team. We use IT in the teaching of English, literature, science and mathematics, not only computer science. The very good level of blended learning which we have achieved by combining face-to-face and distance learning technologies using different types of software was noticed by many other summit participants and they were asking us questions about how we did it. We were also leaders in providing sustainable teacher training systems, from individual consultations to long-term in-service training to upgrade our staffs knowledge parallel to their work in the classroom. During the Summit, physical participants in California and virtual participants around the world voted on projects being implemented in different countries as described in posters produced by the organisations running them. The posters provided a starting point for more detailed discussion of the projects. ORT Geshers High Way to High Tech: School, University, Career project was placed in the top three out of some 70 entries with more than 700 votes. It is the latest in a long list of ORT successes in contests staged by HP. Two years ago in Brussels it won $10,000 for the excellence with which it had implemented the Graduate Entrepreneurship Training through Information Technology (GET-IT) concept into its training programmes. Last year, the ORT Mishpateinu High School in Kazan and the HP-ORT Digital Community Centre in Slavutich, Ukraine won contests for the best project report at HP Digital Forums in Suzdal and Moscow. Days later the ORT-KesherNet Centre in Tambov won the HP GET-IT Impact Award at the HP GET-IT Annual Conference in Cairo for the success of its students in setting up their own businesses. The High Way to High Tech project teaches students to use high technology to enhance maths, science, computer science and engineering courses as well as in everyday life and it increases awareness of, and interest in, high tech degrees and careers among teachers, administrators and students. I was confident that our project was among the best but it was very satisfying that people around the world shared my opinion, said Dr Fradkov, Director of the ORT Technology Centre at the Samara school, who was presented with a photo printer as a prize. He shared Dr Moiseevas opinion that the ORT schools were among the best. It is not just a function of our having a lot of computers and other equipment, Mr Fradkov said. Computers by themselves cannot improve learning. The critical factor is that we have the necessary modern pedagogical techniques to be able to use the equipment we have effectively. Dr Moiseeva said the Summit provided a useful departure from the routine of work and academic isolation to intensive communication and sharing of ideas, concerns, hopes and challenges. The integration of new technologies into teaching and learning places considerable responsibility on the shoulders of those who decide upon innovative projects, she said. Participating in the Summit meant joining a community of professionals and getting answers for thousands of questions which challenge us every day. I enjoyed learning more about the future of distance learning and the ways of integrating Web 2.0 technologies to increase communication between teachers and learners. Dr Fradkov said he also appreciated the opportunity the Summit provided to examine further the use of Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) which had been explored in Januarys Wingate Seminar at ORT House, London. I am interested in the use of web-based connections between students, teachers and parents, he said. We have done a lot of work to make these virtual environments a reality. The Wingate Seminar was very helpful but it was nice to be able to discuss it further at the Summit. World ORTs collaboration with HP began in 2001 with the Digital Village programme in Dikhatole, near Johannesburg. In 2004, HP and ORT again joined forces to open Digital Community Centres in Slavutych, Ukraine and Tula, Russia, and within a year the Micro Enterprise Acceleration Centre was opened in Samara. In 2007, HP initiated GET-IT which seeds entrepreneurial energy and develops business and IT skills in young people and recent graduates. ORT Russia has established 16 GET-IT centres in Russia and Ukraine.