"Writing words together with a fine feather" taught at the Online School of St Petersburg University: project results for 2022

This academic year, 2,500 people have taken part in the Online School of St Petersburg University. Students from 11 countries joined the online lectures: Latvia, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Armenia, Egypt, Spain and France.

The presentation of the distance learning project "Online School of St Petersburg University" was held in December 2018 at the House of Moscow in Riga.

Every year, classes at the online school are taught by professors from St Petersburg University according to the Russian secondary school programme. This year’s list included lectures in the Russian language, mathematics, literature, biology, the history of Russia, world history, chemistry, physics, geography, social science, and natural sciences. According to Dmitry Ptyushkin, Director of the Language Testing Centre at St Petersburg University, demand for the classes is constantly growing. Compared to the 2018 figures, the number of participants has increased by more than 35 times. In the first enrolment, there were 70 people, and, in 2022, there are 2,500 people.

‘Our usual audience is high school students. However, since the 2021/22 academic year, the Online School of St Petersburg University has started training primary school pupils in France. The positive response from pupils, the association of project’s parents and teachers, as well as the high popularity of the classes, suggests that lectures for primary schools are also possible in other countries in the new academic year,’ said Dmitry Ptyushkin, Director of the Language Testing Centre at St Petersburg University.

Classes at the school take place every week from September to May in a distance format. All recordings of the lectures have open access so that anyone can watch the recordings not only of this academic year, but also of previous years.

Lectures at the school are delivered entirely in Russian: the lessons are based on the curriculum of a Russian school, so the level of language skills should be high. However, on individual requests from parents and students, the project creates groups with a basic level of language proficiency (A2). Students who successfully do the course with the required number of classes are awarded a personal certificate from St Petersburg University, which gives additional points for admission to the University’s academic programmes. In this way, the students not only acquire new knowledge but also gain additional opportunities for further education.

Studying at the Online school of St Petersburg University is a very good help and support for those children who consider Russian their native language, want to be closer to Russian culture or even plan to study further in Russia. Our teachers are highly experienced in distance learning. They meticulously prepare for each lesson and know how to cover the topic and not lose the audience’s attention. This is very important in the age of digitalisation.

Dmitry Ptyushkin, Director of the Language Testing Centre at St Petersburg University

In the new academic year, we plan to launch the website of the Online School. It will contain all the necessary information: contacts, progress, homework and quizzes. ‘Every year we add innovations to the programme: we make it as modern as possible, introduce new subjects, try new technologies for delivering classes,’ added Dmitry Ptyushkin. ‘For example, this year we launched a pilot project at the School − the book club. This is an extracurricular activity, where there are no grades for lessons and no homework. Classes are held after school hours, and children are eager to sign up for the course, suggesting authors and books for discussion. Next year, we plan to continue this project.’