No university in the world is capable of housing a million students in its lecture halls and classrooms at one time. But the modern format of online education makes it possible, as anyone can study anytime from anywhere. The promotion of online courses leads to the transformation of the entire education system. The learning process indeed becomes accessible and lifetime.
Digital education at St Petersburg University is developing rapidly. In just two years, the number of students taking online courses of St Petersburg University has quadrupled! Currently, the number of learners is 1,000,000. By combining innovative teaching technologies and long-standing academic traditions, St Petersburg University has become one of the leaders in Russian online education. Programmes developed at the University have become winners and prize winners of various competitions, including the 4th International EdCrunch Award 2018 Competition.
St Petersburg University online lectures are listened to not only in Russia but also abroad. More than half of the students are from abroad. The largest number of foreign students of St Petersburg University courses reside in the USA (7%), India (5%) and Germany (2%). This educational format is most popular among the age group of 25 to 34, who make up 46% of students. This suggests that online courses attract master and doctoral students, recent graduates and young specialists, as they help to quickly acquire the skills necessary for professional activities.
>100 online courses have been launched by St Petersburg University so far.
The most widely represented area is the humanities (40%). It is followed by a large group of courses on social sciences (30%). About the same percentage of courses is in the exact (16%) and natural sciences (12%).
On the Coursera, Open Education and Stepik platforms, leading scientists from the University give lectures that include nuclear physics, history of literature, foreign languages, psychology of consciousness, and sports programming. Additionally, St Petersburg University has become the first Russian university to partner with the largest Asian online learning platform XuetangX. It will present courses on the Russian language and the history of Russia. According to global trends, the most demanded courses are in the fields of business and technology. This is also confirmed at St Petersburg University. Very popular courses at Coursera can be exemplified by ‘Practices of Analysis of Economic Data’, ‘Sports Programming’, and ‘Quantum Computing’.
At the same time, such language courses as Chinese for Beginners, English: Preparation for the Candidate’s Examination, Arabic - an Introductory Course, are becoming more in demand. The ability to speak with people in their native language, and to know their customs and culture, certainly expands the boundaries of communication. It becomes an additional competitive advantage for future specialists.
Vladimir Starostenko, Director of the Centre of E-Learning Development of St Petersburg University, says, ‘The development of information technology is changing modern learning and the educational process. Online technology makes them more adaptive and customised. It makes it possible for you to choose your own, comfortable pace of learning. In the last academic year, five disciplines were implemented in an online format. Nearly 10,000 students of St Petersburg University studied them. And at present there are more than a million students on the University’s electronic resources. It is very important that the University keeps up to date and is in line with the global changes taking place in the world of education.’