HSE’s Digital Transformation Achievements Presented at Yandex Conference
On September 23– 25, Yandex held the Yandex Scale 2020 conference on new digital products and services. The conference included practical sessions on machine learning, data processing, analysis and other topics, as well as cases of the company’s customers and partners. One such case, concerning the evolution of a digital university, was presented by Alexey Chukarin, HSE University’s Senior Director for Digital Transformation.
HSE University has long been known as a leading university and industry advisor in many different fields, but today, it is also a leader in using technology in education as well as Yandex’s technology partner, Alexey Chukarin emphasized. He reminded the audience that universities can be rather conservative organizations, and until recently, they were able to work using the same principles as several centuries ago. However, over recent years, the situation has changed, and a digital environment is now essential for a university’s success.
Alexey Chukarin said that today, HSE University is a huge establishment, located across several different campuses, with over 50,000 students and over 7,000 teachers. This type of university can’t exist without lots of communication, digital libraries and ‘digital footprints’. In addition, the university needs to comply with the reporting demanded by regulatory bodies (annually, HSE University submits about 500 types of reports to the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation).
One of the key principles in creating the university’s digital environment has been the use of cloud technology, which has helped to provide high performance, and create many new services and platforms in just a year. HSE teachers are now able to teach at any time from anywhere in the world. Students have received a wide range of additional opportunities, including the ability to create a digital portfolio and make use of unlimited social communication options. For the first time in Russia, the next exam period at HSE University will be conducted with the use of digital record books.
Exams are now conducted online with the use of proctoring technology. During these exams, each students should have two video cameras in operation. ‘In the most recent exam period, we organised about 5,000 exams simultaneously, which meant 10,000 cameras were on’, Alexey Chukarin said, ‘For comparison – Moscow City IT Department has about 200,000 cameras, which means that in a single university, we had to deploy a video analysis infrastructure comparable to 5% of the capacity of an entire city. Without cloud solutions, we couldn’t have done this’.
This year’s admissions campaign has also been organized completely online – with the use of all kinds of cloud services, including cloud storage and cloud digital signatures. On September 1st, HSE University unfolded the latest generation of their learning management system, which Alexey Chukarin is immensely proud of. ‘Students used to check in to the old system only before the exams—just in case, and it was only then that they found interesting and useful materials there’, he said, ‘But when speaking about the new system, over 80% logged in to it during the first two weeks of September—gaining access to useful textbooks, new data, and new services’.
Today, we need a coordinated agenda in order to understand how to develop a comfortable and safe technological environment and make the consequences of rapid technological development forecastable and manageable. This is what HSE Rector Yaroslav Kuzminov said at the National Academic Online Conference ‘Ethical and Legal Issues of Digital Transformation: From Conflict to Harmony?’
April International Academic Conference is held in a distributed format this year, with some sessions broadcast online and papers and video presentations from others posted on the conference website. Professor Dr Ger Graus, first Global Director of Education at KidZania, is an invited speaker at Digital Transformation of Education session that is also conducted in this new distributed form. His paper is devoted to preparing children for digital era through non-formal education.
How will the university spend the funds it has invested in its digital transformation? When will we see SmartLMS 1.0 and is it realistic to switch to a completely paperless educational process? Why does HSE need a supercomputer and when will artificial intelligence replace the university rector? HSE Senior Director for Digital Transformation Alexey Chukarin discusses these questions and more.
The best features of the university model created by HSE over the years will be preserved, but a new model is essential for further development. This new model will focus on project-based learning for all students, as well as the digital transformation in the field of education.