Rector of AltSU Sergey N. Bocharov gave an interview to Rossiyskaya Gazeta about the work of the university during the pandemic

1 May 2020 Department of Information and Media Communications
Rossiyskaya Gazeta published an interview with Rector of Altai State University, Sergei N. Bocharov about the process of adaptation to the remote mode of work, which has been established in the university since March 23, due to the pandemic.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Russian universities have switched to distant learning. How is it happening at AltSU?

Sergey Bocharov: We are faced with new realities and problems. But many universities found themselves in a similar situation. For example, the load on distance learning IT services immediately increased. Thanks to the effort of AltSU IT specialists we managed to ensure the stability of these services. Our IT infrastructure is now better prepared for the challenge.
The university management also faced the new conditions of remote work. Workflow mechanisms using electronic signatures were tested and implemented. This was facilitated by the launch in 2019 of our own accredited certification center. Today, meetings and the educational process are held in an online format. We even organized an anonymous online voting for members of the academic council. This experience is being replicated at AltSU institutes.

Are there any psychological factors?

Sergey Bocharov: Most teachers are used to working in a traditional format. Previously, they considered distant learning as an additional form of training.They had to change their habits, and for many of them it was not so easy. But we managed to go through the process of adapting the faculty to work with digital services, both internal and external. More than forty students and undergraduates of the digital directions of training volunteered to assist in this process. Today, almost all academic disciplines are represented on the Moodle platform, which is 3,474 popular functioning courses and 15,658 registered students.

What helped to enter a new format of work?

Sergei Bocharov: To a certain extent, we were prepared for this situation. For several years, AltSU has been implementing a digitalization program. Distance learning courses have been created, paperwork processes have been digitized, and a corporate portal based on the 1C-Bitrix system has been introduced for more effective management. All activities planned for 2020 are being implemented. We plan to update the telecommunications and server IT infrastructure and complete the creation of a unified university digital platform for optimizing administrative processes. Data will no longer be duplicated in several systems, but will be uploaded once and used by all users. Together with partner banks, we launched the Campus Project, which will turn a bank card into a student or teacher identifier. It will function as a pass to the building and the hostel, an electronic library card at Altai State University scientific library, and other options.

Partnerships with the NTI “20.35” University and the Ural Federal University  played their role. They have accumulated tremendous experience. Based on the agreements we are actively collaborating in promoting the digitalization of the educational process at AltSU.

How were extracurricular activities reorganized?

Sergey Bocharov: We do not leave our students unattended and are always in touch with them. For this, an entire pool of projects has been created. Their task is to involve young people in the period of self-isolation in creative work through educational broadcasts, providing interesting and accessible content. And not only for AltSU students, but also for schoolchildren and all residents of Altai Krai. A weekly compilation of useful educational, entertainment and cultural broadcasts and resources is being formed. For example, on March 27, the Creative Telecommuting project was launched. This is the format of live broadcasts of leisure and development events prepared by the participants of our creative teams. The project is available in AltSU social network accounts, on the official website of the university.

Since April 7, daily morning exercises with the participants of AltSU creative teams have been aired with the total audience coverage being more than 7,000 people.

But not everything was transferred to the distant mode. Together with the administration of Barnaul, in honour of the 75th Anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War, we are carrying out the campaign “Road to the Obelisk”. Volunteer students committed to restore 75 monuments on the graves of WWII veterans in Barnaul by May 9. We go to the city cemeteries in groups of four or six people. All safety measures are observed: the guys work in masks and gloves, one or two people, keeping the social distance of one and a half meters from each other. Sixty obelisks have already been put in order.

Many students worked part-time, but now they do not have such an opportunity. Does the university support them?

Sergey Bocharov: It does. For some students, to combine work and study is a vital necessity or the start of a career. We are trying to help them. We provided employment on the campus for them. Together with HeadHunter company, we prepared a list of vacancies for freelance or remote work - 1,845 offers. This is not only the usual project orders in the IT field, online sales, tutoring and the like, but also cutting-edge options - for example, a virtual nanny. The guys themselves are entrepreneurial in this situation. Residents of AltSU business incubator created a workshop for sewing protective masks. Technical control is carried out by two people. The whole process is managed online. The anatomical shape of the mask, the type of fabric and the optimal sewing algorithm were selected by the program created by the guys themselves.

Many high school graduates are now worried about the 2020 admission campaign.

Sergey Bocharov: I want to assure applicants that AltSU is doing everything to minimize the inconvenience caused by the pandemic. The admission committee is ready to work in a remote format. We are adapting the local regulatory framework for admission. AltSU is integrated into the pilot project for the implementation of the federal super-service “Admission to the university online” through the State Service portal in 2020. The super service will provide acceptance of documents from citizens of the Russian Federation for bachelor’s full-time programs. AltSU has implemented the information platform “1C: Prof” with “The applicant’s personal account", which allows remote reception of documents from all categories of applicants and at all levels of training. A tool has been created at the AltSU Open Educational Portal to conduct entrance tests in a remote form.

The difficulties have made us stronger, helped us to reach more effective formats for managing educational and administrative processes. The pandemic will surely end someday, but we are now more prepared for global challenges.

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