Having successfully passed the final test, the student of the online course receives a certificate. It will be a useful supplement to their portfolio, and bring extra points when enrolling for a master's programme. Additionally, it will make it possible to get a credit in one of the academic disciplines.
Marina Lavrikova is Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Activities and Teaching Methods of St Petersburg University. She explained to us what needs to be done so that the results of distance learning are considered valid, and what challenges students may encounter.
Students of St Petersburg University have the opportunity to receive credits for mastering online courses. What was the reason for making such a decision?
The opportunity to receive credits for mastering online courses instead of disciplines of the University's academic programmes has been implemented since 2017. The procedure for considering as valid the results of mastering online courses by students of St Petersburg University was approved by order of 8 September 2017 No 8852/1.
The development of online education and the accessibility of lifelong learning is a conscious need that is gradually becoming a real fact of modern Russian society. Online courses provide students with access to lectures and seminars of the best academic staff of the world's top educational institutions.
Moreover, since 2018, online courses can be used in the learning and teaching process as a subject of the educational programme curriculum or as additional material. This is in accordance with the amendments made by order No 6652/1 as of 4 July 2018 to Academic Regulations for Main Educational Bachelor Programmes, Specialist Degree Programmes, Master Programmes and Programmes of Middle Level Professional Education at St Petersburg University. At present, the University’s online courses help to develop most of the general competencies. Many of these courses are included in the curriculum as optional disciplines.
In the process of being credited, some university students have encountered certain challenges. What are the main obstacles that prevent the results of distance learning from being considered valid?
The only results that are credited are those for mastering online courses offered by top educational institutions of the world and specialised global online platforms. These include those of Moscow State University and St Petersburg University. Additionally, in 2017, the following conditions to transfer credits were included: the topics of the online course should comply with the curriculum subject; and the workload and type of assessment should be similar. However, the certificates that are issued based on the results of mastering most of the courses hosted on online platforms do not contain information about their workload and the type of assessment. This fact made it difficult to transfer credits. Therefore, in 2018, amendments were made to the procedure to transfer credits for mastering online courses by students of St Petersburg University (order No 7265/1 as of 20 July, 2018). According to this order, the decision to transfer credits is made if the topics of the online course comply with the curriculum subject. The workload is taken into account if it is indicated in the certificate. At the same time, even non-credited online courses can be included in the supplement to the diploma of St Petersburg University as optional disciplines mastered in another educational institution.
Could you please tell us what should students pay attention to when choosing an online course if they want to be credited for it?
First of all, students should read carefully the subject syllabus, since it can indicate the online courses recommended for the credit being transferred. When choosing an online course, students should take into account that for a credit to be transferred it must be developed by a university that is among the top 300 in international rankings: Academic Ranking of World Universities; The Times Higher Education World University Rankings; and QS World University Rankings. Additionally, the online course should correspond to the topics of the subject, which as an alternative is intended to transfer credits for mastering it.