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Startups Help to Stay Connected, Share & Personalize Education
November 25, 2013 11:56

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Promoting startups in education here in Russia is the same as betting on David in his lone fight against Goliath. It doesn’t sounds quite feasible but that’s what we must do against the odds because, ultimately, that’s where the future is.
In most cases, Russia’s higher education establishments are still run by the management teams who survived the shock transition to the market economy. There may be a new coat of paint on the exterior and a supercomputer but the bulk of the education content and processes has remained unchanged.

Here are a couple of major differences to show you why domestic universities have been largely unable to adjust to the fast-paced changes in society and the labor market.

1. In the US, a large number of institutions rely on profits from endowments; in Russia, public higher education is officially free of charge, making the universities’ budgets and the choice of a strategy heavily dependent on the government.
2. In the US, you would usually have a board of trustees overseeing policy; in Russia, it’s the rector who enjoys unconditional control.
3. In countries with developed market economies, there’s a well-established tradition of innovations driving the evolution of any industry; in Russia, the Soviet concept of ‘initiative is punished’ is still very much dominant today.
It’s clear that startups cannot change these fundamental flaws. That’s the responsibility of the government. But until there are policy changes, someone has to close the gaps that keep growing between the world’s best practices and Russia’s old-school ways.

At 1776’s regional Challenge Cup event held at Moscow’s Digital October, the panelists were ready to provide their solutions.
The world is going interactive and online, and so CleverBear is there to catch up with the trend, harnessing the gaming environment to maximize efficacy in teaching web development skills.

TRIK is pushing for smart robotics to be incorporated in teaching practices. Together with CleverBear, they are sending a signal out there that learning could be an exciting process and you don’t need to be a nerd to understand complicated stuff.

Staying connected has never been more critical. When three years ago we filmed an interview with Alexey Bobrovsky, the winner of the presidential science award, the 35-year-old polymer researcher said he was waiting for the prize money to fix his broken laser. If Labicom were there back then, he wouldn’t have been forced to put his valuable research on hold. Using its tool, you can hook up even from home to any device installed in any lab all over the world.

ClearMath has set out on a path to save families billions of dollars spent annually on crab schools and tutors, the money which could be used to drive demand to kick-start the global economy. In a classroom with varied IQ, their personalization tool promises top marks to all students at the end of semester. It’s a tough challenge to the Soviet one-size-fits-all model but the team’s leader is certain of success.

In a modern world, where the innovation cycle gets ever shorter, graduates may often find that the stuff they were taught is obsolete and they actually lack the skills that are needed by employers. Amectronix hopes to bring students closer to their dream job and save HR departments millions of dollars in training and re-training costs.

So, hopefully, backed by learning leaders like Pearson and promoted by new knowledge-sharing platforms like Channelkit, these initiatives can trigger the transformations that are needed to make education more accessible and market-driven, and to propel Russian universities to top positions in the world rankings. 

Author: Mikhail Vesely

Tags: Russian education Russian universities Russian startups   

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