Lifelong learning and digital education in Ukraine
Stas Dunaevskiy, Eo-205i, KNEU
Nowadays providing digital education became a life-needed option for government and people, who in conditions of quarantine are not able to gather in auditions and receive information in the old format as it used to be.
Digitalization was a key point for most countries in EU for last years in all spheres, but last year became a real challenge and, unfortunately, not all spheres were capable to handle with online formats, but education tried and government tries to support it. So let’s review how it works.
Luckily Ukraine had already been developing some educational online systems, so this hit was not death, but anyway very and very tough. But anyway government is trying, in particular by launching an educational program “Дія. Цифрова освіта”, which main functions are
1) providing the opportunity to access educational materials; 2) ensuring digital literacy for people of all ages;
3) provision of testing, in particular digital literacy testing;
4) ensuring the receipt of electronic documents confirming the completion of training;
5) formation of an individual list of educational materials;
6) display of news and results in the field of education;
7) dissemination of ideas of digitalization and information about the latest digital technologies; 8) protection of data (including personal) that are posted on the digital education web portal from unauthorized access, destruction, modification. In addition, a web platform for distance learning “All-Ukrainian School Online” will operate on the Unified State Web Portal of Digital Education “Diya. Digital Education”.
The modernisation of the education system has been a key national priority in Ukraine since 2016, when the Ministry of Education and Science began the reform of general education with the New Ukrainian School concept. It introduced the development of a competence-based approach and the EU key competences, including digital competence, as an obligation of the state in formal primary and secondary education.
The adoption of the Law on Education in 2017 legally endorsed the concept of the New Ukrainian School and provided the basis for the reform of vocational education and training (VET)1 . In the Modern Vocational Education concept and the draft Law on Vocational Education , vocational key competences include the development of information and digital technologies.
These policies require new educational standards in VET, with digital key competences and skills for using information and communication technologies (ICT) according to the new demands of the labour market. All VET learners currently acquire basic digital skills through compulsory ICT lessons (144 hours in total – 72 hours per year for two years) and through compulsory and elective vocational subjects. Students in three-year VET programmes are required to study ICT in their first year, with two lessons a week. VET students are expected to acquire basic digital skills and competences (DSC) through a cross-curricular approach4 . Different versions of the course are tailored to the specific needs of certain specialisations (e.g. enhanced MS Excel in financial accounting).
To extend ICT qualifications, new programmes were introduced in initial VET (IVET) (formal education): information and software processing operator (80 institutions), telecommunications operator (5 institutions), office administrator (5 establishments), and radio and television programme administrator (1 institution).
However, VET ICT courses and relevant statistics on digital competence remain limited.
Facts and trends
The Ukrainian information technology (IT) industry has demonstrated a steady growth of 19% on average per year. IT specialisations are mainly acquired in universities (91% of IT specialists in Ukraine are higher education graduates). The failure of the supply side to meet the growing demand for IT specialists is hindering the industry’s development5 .
In 2016/17 there were 285 800 students in vocational schools, less than 1% of them enrolled in the telecommunication stream6 . Policies, strategies, initiatives, practices According to the Law on the National Qualifications Framework7 , VET teachers and masters acquire DSC during their university studies through a subject exam or credit.
However, this is usually a basic digital course and it is not part of the final state exam to enter the teaching profession in a relevant VET field.
Continuing professional development for VET teachers and trainers is provided through the 25 regional institutes of in-service teacher training.
Once every five years teachers have advanced face-to-face training, usually of one week’s duration, and their training programme contains an obligatory module of 36 hours on the use of ICT in the learning process.
Other training institutes in the regions conduct separate elective courses for VET teacher training. Further opportunities for peer learning and training include participation in professional online networks and platforms.
For example, the Scientific-Methodological VET Centre in the Zaporizhzhia region organises training for teachers in DSC8 . As an initial measure, in 2018 the Cabinet of Ministers approved the Development of Pedagogical Education concept , which includes the introduction of a digital competence standard for educators.
The concept also provides for the creation of a teacher’s e-portfolio and a new open educational e-platform for students and teachers10. To facilitate the use of distance and online learning in continuing professional development for VET teachers and trainers, the Ministry of Education and Science adopted a Provision on distance learning in formal and non-formal settings. An example of this type of initiative is the Prometheus portal. This portal offers groups of massive open online courses (MOOCs), which are useful for enhancing the digital competence of VET teachers and students.
The draft Law on Vocational Education is in progress and will have formal requirements for teacher certification with an assessment of their digital competence. Facts and trends In 2015 the VET Institute of the National Academy of Pedagogical Science created a platform (LMS Moodle) for online learning13 to provide distancelearning courses for VET specialists. The number of users of this portal is steadily increasing.
A number of policies, such as the Digital Agenda for Ukraine, highlight actions towards the digitisation of education, using digital and online learning (DOL) in education and training.
However, there are no formal requirements to use DOL in VET curricula. The Distance Learning Regulation14 states that schools can choose to use distance learning in their provision. Some colleges provide vocational courses through DOL. These are powered by Moodle and include video demos and interactive digital content, including tests and self-assessments.
Examples include courses offered by the VET Centre for Construction Technologies in Kharkiv15 and the VET Centre for Agricultural Education in Kyiv16. Online/electronic resources are considered a useful complementary tool in delivering ICT-related and other vocational programmes.
However, few IVET schools regularly use digital learning methods, and these are mainly limited to using projectors and smart boards, with teaching focused on delivering traditional lessons by digital means (e.g. PowerPoint). The use of digitally innovative teaching methods is limited. In some technical vocational schools, VET-specific teaching software and simulators are used to reproduce work-like contexts and practices. Textbook digitisation is mostly limited to PDF versions of printed books.
Most vocational schools use Facebook as a convenient means of communicating with students and of students working together. There are no ICT coordinators in VET institutions to support digitalisation in the VET system. Teachers of informatics are often asked for help with technical issues. The concept of DOL is not sufficiently developed in VET and its application is not sufficiently clear for VET teachers.
Facts and trends According to a 2017 survey on the use of DOL17, all IVET schools have an internet connection, and some have more than one. Most schools (72.2%) have Wi-Fi. Ukraine is in second place in the world out of 139 countries for the cheapest access to broadband internet18, but the speed quality differs.
About 41% of general education schools have a connection speed of less than 10 Mbps, 14% from 10 to 30 Mbps, 26% from 30 to 100 Mbps, and 6% over 100 Mbps. Most VET providers report a lack of up-to-date equipment and a lack of licensed training software, which is a major barrier to DOL.
Continuing VET and adult learning is a relatively new field in national education policies and strategies in Ukraine. Lifelong learning was included in the Law on Education in 2017. Since that time, the Ministry of Education and Science and Ivan Zyazun Institute for Pedagogical Education and Adult Education, with other institutions19, have been developing the Law on Adult Education.
These developments are closely linked to the Law on National Vocational Qualifications and the Law on the National Qualifications Framework. Although there is no specific provision of DOL in formal settings, nonformal provision is developing rapidly.
MOOCs have been created, and licensed adult education providers offer training for occupations, and for professional and personal development.
For example, distance learning is used at the VET Institute of the National Academy of Pedagogical Science, which provides online courses for floriculturists, window dressers and florists (2016–20).
There is no data available on enrolment in various forms of adult learning in Ukraine. Online platforms such as Prometheus20 and EdEra21 offer more than 120 free online courses22.
The growth of the audience of online platforms in Ukraine indicates that adults are eager to develop and learn. It suggests that online education will become increasingly popular.
And there are a little of numbers. Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov said: “The Government’s Action Program now contains an ambitious goal of training digital skills at least 6 million Ukrainians in three years.
Moreover, 70% of people must be aged between 30 and 60+. The goal is absolutely realistic – we have already prepared a concrete plan of action on how to achieve that. We create an online platform with five different categories of courses. All of those will be absolutely free and available to everyone.
In addition, we are establishing partnerships with CASPs, libraries, the private sector, schools and universities. We are planning to create our offline hub network to reach as many people as possible with our program.”
Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation for European Integration Valeria Ionan presented the results of the first sociological survey in Ukraine: “53.5% of Ukrainians are below the average level in digital literacy. 15.1% of Ukrainians do not have any digital skills, and 37.9% of citizens have low digital skills. 34% of Ukrainians aged 18-70 in the recent year have been targeted by at least one type of fraudulent activity on the Internet, and among young people aged 10-17 years, 49.5% of Ukrainians have been victims of online fraud.
The most vulnerable segments of the society affected through the Internet are the youth under 16 and the seniors over 60.”
So as we see government year by year is trying to implement new educational programs in our socium, but the question is that in most cases this programs do not work as they should, so we have problems with realization, so government should involve people, maybe foreign capable to create stable and working IT products.
The second trouble is that most people in our country are conservative and simply are not ready to such changes as for example turn their working life into online, so accordingly they will not let their children learn online, because they don’t believe in it, so government should work in this aspect too (trust between people and online education).
But to finish it on the good note, it should be said that a lot of people in our country nowadays learn, work and communicate in online and they are open to it, and share among their friends and relatives, so I suppose that with the help of government and with wish of government online and digital education has a very bright potential and future in Ukraine.