The Global MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) Alliance Board meeting took place. The Alliance was established in 2020 with St Petersburg University participation.

The Global Alliance for Massive Open Online Courses includes 20 universities and educational institutions that are top players in online education worldwide. Its core functions are collaborative teaching, building new opportunities, disseminating new knowledge, and promoting public initiatives in online education.

St Petersburg University is a co-founder and the first representative of Russia   in the Global Alliance for Massive Open Online Courses

 

At the opening ceremony, Professor Qiu Yong, President of Tsinghua University and the Chairperson of the Global MOOC Alliance Board emphasised the importance of international cooperation. In her turn, Xiaoxiao Wang, General Secretary of the Alliance, reviewed the milestone initiatives of the previous year and pointed out the plans for the future.

Regarding the Alliance's 2021 activities, many initiatives pursuing the development of the cooperation between universities and platforms were put into practice. For example, the XuentangX platform hosted more new courses from St Petersburg University and Cornell University (USA). The platform itself started cooperating with their colleagues from Thai MOOC. However, it is the Global Hybrid Classroom project that has become the most large-scale initiative and involved almost all Alliance partners. This initiative made it possible for more than 500 students from different institutions worldwide to take part in the online exchange programme. Among them, over 100 students from St Petersburg University completed the courses at Tsinghua University during the spring and autumn semesters. Currently, the universities are working on making such a mechanism of ensuring mobility more efficient for further cooperation. Along with attracting new partners to Global Hybrid Classroom, the Alliance is making arrangements to invite students to the Global Student Research Training project and guarantee the recognition of the credits by their universities.

During the meeting, the representatives of other universities and educational institutions delivered their reports. Vladimir Starostenko is a member of the Global MOOC Alliance Executive Committee and Director of the Centre of E-Learning Development at St Petersburg University. He called on his colleagues to develop international quality standards for online courses to be applied by the Alliance partners. He also touched upon an issue of everybody’s utmost concern: how to implement an exam video recording system of invigilating.

'The fact is that the artificial intelligence gadget is programmed to evaluate a person being examined based on formal indicators,’ explained Vladimir Starostenko. ‘The device is not capable of comprehensively evaluating the person's behaviour. It screens the factors in their totality. That is why, quite often, a sinless cat that may appear in the window of interest may be identified as an intruder next to the person being examined.  Here, at the forefront, we need the invaluable presence of a specially trained invigilator to act according to the specified algorithms.’

With such a problem concerned, the partners proposed to study the experience of educational institutions and organisations-founders of the Alliance. Also, they paid attention to the existing practices in monitoring the behaviour of students being tested, including those within online courses, to promote this service for international standardising.

The partners at the meeting acknowledged the significance of changes that are taking place in education. They pointed out that today's universities' strategic plans are dramatically different from those in 2020 when the expected pandemic tides might have caused the closing of campuses and transiting to the distance mode. Today, the ultimate task for the universities is not opposing the pandemic but responding to the changes as time-efficiently as possible. To discover new opportunities and modes of teaching not only to ensure the continuity of the teaching and learning process but also to establish the qualitative educational setting in the given environment are the challenges they are facing. The participants also highlighted that although both the scope and variety of online courses are ever-growing, the universities must not lose their adherence to updating their content. They must also continue to improve technologies and additional services and the teaching design of the academic products.

The first session was attended by representatives from: Tsinghua University; the XuetangX platform; Shanghai Jiao Tong University (China); St Petersburg University; Politecnico di Milano (Italy); Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen University (Germany); Centre de Recherches Interdisciplinaires (CRI, France); the Thai MOOC platform (Thailand); and the Mongolian University of Science and Technology (Mongolia).

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