An International Forum “Topical Issues of ICTs in Education: International and Russian Experience” was held in the Federal Institute for Education Development (FIRO) on 23-24 May 2012 as part of work on implementation of activities identified in the Memorandum of Understanding between the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (IITE) and FIRO as priority areas of cooperation. An International Seminar “ICT Use in TVET in CIS Countries” was organized in the framework of this Forum and was dedicated to the discussion of results of the joint project of the Intergovernmental Foundation for Educational, Scientific and Cultural Cooperation (IFESCCO) and the UNESCO IITE.
The Forum was open by the Director of FIRO, Mr. Alexander Asmolov, who made a welcome speech and introduced the main objectives of the event, talking also about the challenges in the field of education development. His intervention was followed by that of Mr. Dendev Badarch, Director of the UNESCO Moscow Office and Director a.i. of the UNESCO IITE. Mr. Badarch gave a short overview of the IFESCCO/IITE project, underlining the importance UNESCO attaches to the TVET development. In this regard, he referred to the recently organized Third International UNESCO Congress on TVET (Shanghai, 13-16 May 2012) which provided an eloquent testimony to this approach. Mr. Badarch also emphasized the added value of using new generation e-textbooks and open educational resources (OER) for the modernization of education and thanked FIRO for their research and developments in this field. At the same time, it is worth noting that UNESCO is also actively supporting global initiatives in OER development and promotion – topics to be discussed during the World OER Congress in Paris on 20-22 June 2012.
Introductory part of the Forum was culminated by the key note speech of a reputed international expert, Mr. Boris Berenfeld, President and CEO of the International Laboratory of Advanced Education Technologies (ILAET), who had been invited by the UNESCO IITE to make a presentation on major trends in ICT use in education in short- and long-term perspectives.
The seminar “ICT Use in TVET in CIS Countries” started with a presentation by Mr. Alexander Khoroshilov, UNESCO IITE National Programme Officer, on the analytical report prepared under the IFESCCO/IITE project. Presentations on project results and major trends in ICT use in TVET in their respective countries were made by three national experts (members of the project expert team) – Ms. Yulia Stakya (Armenia), Ms. Natalia Potapenko (Belarus) and Ms. Violeta Mija (Moldova).
Armenian expert explained to the participants that, in spite of governmental initiatives to stimulate ICT use in TVET, Armenia is only starting to apply ICTs in the educational process. To further promote ICT use in TVET in Armenia, she suggested to develop necessary methodological tools, educational and technical programmes, as well as to expand public-private partnership in the TVET system. Ms. Potapenko listed a number of paramount objectives envisaged by the Belarusian strategy of promotion of the information society, namely the establishment of a legislative frame work, the realization of programmes for improvement of teacher ICT competencies and their further certification, as well as the large-scale use of distance and e-Learning. National expert from Moldova reported on recent achievements in building the information society, in particular by increasing the number of Internet providers and Internet users, as well as augmenting the number of computers connected to the Internet by 15-20% since 2011.
Within the Forum, a separate session was organized to discuss different approaches to improving ICT competencies of teachers and students and methods of their assessment. Among the highlights of this section were thematic presentations by Mr. Alexander Khoroshilov from the UNESCO IITE and Ms. Svetlana Avdeeva from the National Training Foundation and FIRO.
The second day of the Forum was dedicated to the discussion of best practices and state-of-the-art in using electronic textbooks in Russia and abroad, discussion of different concepts and models of e-textbooks and issues related to the development of the educational environment and improving the quality of electronic learning materials. At the closing session, it was decided to organize a scientific-methodological seminar “Quality of e-Learning Resources and Unified Information Educational Environment of the Educational Institution” on the UNESCO IITE premises in autumn 2012.