UNESCO award for ORT Russia Vice President


Further evidence of the talent and expertise of ORTs lay leadership in the Former Soviet Union has been provided with the announcement that ORT Russias Vice President, Professor Alexei Semenov, has been awarded the 2009 UNESCO King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize for the Use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in Education. Professor Alexei Semenov. This years prize focused on the theme Teaching, Learning and e-Pedagogy: Teacher Professional Development for Knowledge Societies. An international jury selected Professor Semenov as the co-winner of the $50,000 prize from among 39 projects in 29 countries. And within days of learning that he had won the $25,000 UNESCO prize, Professor Semenov was today (Wednesday) due to collect the Prize of the Government of the Russian Federation from Prime Minister Vladimir Putin for his leading role in the successful implementation of a $120 million World Bank-funded project to provide e-learning support for the country. He is due to receive the UNESCO prize at a ceremony in Paris on January 26. A UNESCO spokesman said Professor Semenov a member of World ORTs Academic Advisory Council and Board of Representatives was chosen for his work as Rector of the Moscow Institute of Open Education where he has provided in-service training to about 30,000 teachers annually for the past 16 years. Professor Semenov has developed exemplary programmes to enable teachers to include ICTs in their work, as well as textbooks and teacher guides used widely in the Russian Federation and other countries, the spokesman said. Teacher professional development is seen as a crucial component of the education reform and improvement process brought about by the adoption of ICTs because the successful integration of the technology into the classroom depends on the ability of teachers to structure the learning environment in non-traditional ways, to merge new technology with new pedagogy, to develop socially active classrooms, and encourage collaborative learning and group work. Professor Semenov sees the UNESCO award as recognition of his and his colleagues work over the past 25 years to introduce and integrate ICT in school education and modestly acknowledged the role his experience with ORT has played. School education in different countries is considered to be very much a local affair, he said. So, for example, although the laws of physics or maths are universal we find that these subjects are taught in surprisingly different ways from country to country. ORT gives us ways that are very practical and very advanced and even inspirational. I think the ORT connection gave us a lot of belief in our own efforts and gave us a vision of what can be achieved independently of local circumstances; it gave us the ability to contextualise our local experience by looking at the experience of others around the world and during the difficult economic times of the 1990s reminded us that things would get better. Professor Semenov was at the forefront of introducing computer science and technology to schools in the dying days of the Soviet Union and was a leading member of an ad hoc group of some 100 scientists who were committed to producing a new educational system for schools. Our idea was to use the model of scientific investigation and inquiry for learning in schools, he said. An important part of this concept of reform was the use of ICT. It was at that time that he met then World ORT Director General Joseph Harmatz and saw the potential benefits of bringing ORT back to the country of its birth. Professor Semenov was instrumental in paving the way for the establishment of the first ORT school in Russia since the 1930s, the Moscow ORT School 1299. The technology studies which were brought to our schools with the help of ORT were of a world class standard not just the equipment but the implementation of project-based learning, Professor Semenov said. ORT does not impose the same curriculum on the different countries in which it operates. It is adaptive enough to make some core ideas applicable to local educational communities. And it establishes international relations, giving children a sense of community and belonging which is very important. Essentially these are all parts of my understanding of how ICT should be integrated into the general school curriculum. Professor Semenov is a Correspondent Member of the Russian Academy of Science and the Russian Academy of Education, an accomplishment which ranks him in the academic elite alongside the President of ORT Ukraine, Professor Dr Yuriy Yakimenko, who is an Academician of his countrys National Academy of Science, and ORT Russia President Professor Alexander Asmolov, who is an Academician of the Russian Academy of Education. He is one of Moscows leading educators and for a long time has held the position of Deputy Chairman of the Moscow Education Committee, World ORTs Chief Programme Officer, Vladimir Dribinskiy, said. He is responsible for many educational innovations in Moscow. We are all very proud and very happy that he has received this well deserved award. The purpose of the UNESCO King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize for the Use of Information and Communication Technologies in Education is to reward projects and activities of individuals, institutions, other entities or non-governmental organisations for excellent models, best practice, and creative use of information and communication technologies to enhance learning, teaching and overall educational performance.