Guest post by Ekaterina Fedotova, Director for “Your Course: Digital Literacy” (Tvoy Kurs) Project, PH International.
Editor’s Note: Tvoy Kurs is Russian program, supported by Microsoft, that focuses on giving people the skills they need to use technology with a view to finding employment. Ekaterina Fedotova has kindly agreed to share some of the insights from their instructors who in 2011 trained a staggering 100,000 people.
We did it! We trained 100,000 people in Russia during 2011 through our Tvoy Kurs Project, supported by Microsoft, and we are very proud of it. You can see the numbers on our website.
With all the project deliverables, requirements, statistics, and reports we sometimes fail to acknowledge those who are making the digital inclusion possible - our trainers and volunteers. How do they work? What methods are they using? What are their approaches? In order to highlight the trainers' crucial role in the program, the Tvoy Kurs organized a contest to find the best trainer. So what did we learn?
Our figures show that Tvoy Kurs boasts more than 2,000 trainers – or, to be exact, 2,222 trainers registered in our official database as of today, working to bring technology skills and pathways to career success to regions throughout Russia. Our trainers, many of them volunteers, have proven again and again that they are people of high responsibility, professional excellence, and a kind and friendly attitude.
We have received fascinating contest applications from many trainers who told us glowing stories about their work and trainees, and shared their successes and challenges. We are very thankful to everyone who chose to take part in the contest, and since many of them deserve to win, our judges had a rather hard time choosing the very best.
Extracts from our participants' submissions best illustrate their work and we are pleased to share their simple but effective tips and observations:
Natalya Morgunova, Balakovo, Methodological Center of Balakovo municipal district, Saratov region, “Successful learning is the only source of energy and motivation for overcoming challenges. That is why creating success situations is so important in adult education as well as in teaching children. Besides, as 19th century German educator Adolph Diesterweg said, ‘bad teachers merely present the truth; good ones teach how to find it’ – and that’s why we seek to combine traditional methods of disseminating ready knowledge with new approaches that encourage independent discovery. The success of my trainees is my success!”
?vgeniya Batuyeva, Perm, A. M. Gorky Regional Library, Perm: “I try to take into account my trainees’ personalities, age, educational background, and initial skills (or lack thereof) of using the computer – or, at the very least, the cell phone. This year our Tvoy Kurs Center has been working with residents of boarding houses for people with psychoneurological disabilities. It has been very tough, since most trainees suffer from attention deficit and other disorders and display general lack of training and self-training, and many of them are severely inhibited and intimidated. However, thanks to our learner-centered approach, carefully customized to individual needs, they were able to complete the course successfully. Thanks to the new computer skills, many of them now have a new source of entertainment and recreation, and some have even found their relatives or landed online jobs.”
Zhanna Gayevskaya, Volgograd, M. Gorky Regional Academic Library, Volgograd: “To merely state that teaching adults – i.e. people with established character, views, and habits – is a challenge is to say nothing at all. But since most our trainees start from scratch, even with the greatest desire to learn it is often frustrating for them, so I emphasize creativity. During the very first class we start MS Paint and learn to draw straight lines and various geometrical figures to get the hang of the computer mouse. My whole course is built around the principle ‘As much hands-on practice as possible’”.
Maksim Vasilyev, Volgograd, Volgograd State Agricultural University:“My work at the Tvoy Kurs Center has given me a much better understanding of people, their needs and problems. I have made many new friends, expanded my social network, and come to a firm conclusion: ‘There is no such thing as unteachable students – only bad teachers.’ This is our working motto, and we seek to customize our training for individual needs. I think I am becoming quite good at this, and it makes me very happy!”
Even though initially we intended to select just one winner, in the end the judges decided to recognize two best Tvoy Kurs trainers:
I. Anastasia Ershova, Togliatti State University: "I have realized that people work much better and try harder when you praise them for even slightest achievements. They have learned to click the mouse - Good Job! They have mastered a double-click - Great Job! One of our trainees confessed that he hadn't been praised that much in his whole life and that was the major reason for him to come to the center. ... I was born in a small village with the beautiful name Apple Ravine, and the Digital Age has come even there. When i came for vacation in summer I told my former school teachers about Tvoy Kurs. The word of mouth worked immediately. The next group of trainees were workers from a local factory. who were at risk of unemployment because of the new computerized equipment. Besides Digital Literacy they learned about e-government services, saving lots of time on getting the necessary documents online instead of going to the city. That is how i spent my summer helping my fellow-villagers solve social issues and fight the unemployment."
II. Yulia Zaitseva, Krasnoyark Regional Academic Library:"Our center works with various groups which differ both in social background and age, and we try to use individual approach with all of them. E.g., senior trainees is the most vulnerable, but at the same time a very demanding group, they prefer to do all the exercises together with the trainer and are interested in hobbies, leisure pastime, communication. When we work with medical workers, educators, and other working professionals we focus the training on Office applications and internet resources according to their professional needs. For the unemployed we have developed a special brochure with Internet job search sites and offer a special resume building training..... We have an endless flow of people, even from the nearby villages, despite the fact that there are many other training centers in our city. And we are ready and trying to help all!"
Anastasia’s and Yulia’s full submissions are available in Russian on the program website ycdl.ph-int.org/news/850/eng/
We are honored to work with such dedicated partners, who generously and regularly share their experiences, their learning while supporting one another in their work. Their best practices recently were highlighted at the third annual Your Course: Information Society Development Conference in Moscow on February 9-10, 2012, hosted together with Microsoft, where we celebrated the achievements of the eighty best performing Tvoy Kurs coordinators and trainers from all over Russia - and planned their further work!
And while celebrating our trainers within Russia, I would be remiss to not mention that our trainers are also globally recognized as outstanding. As a result of the Telecentre.org’s Global Search for 100 Outstanding Telecentre Women Managers, six Tvoy Kurs coordinators were named among the 100 best, and Lyudmila Ulyeva became the best Telecentre Manager in Eurasia. Coordinator Irina Kotkina from Naryan-Mar received the Best Telecentre Manager award from Telecentre-Europe in 2011.
We are looking forward to another exciting year of Tvoy Kurs, another year of partnership with Microsoft, and hope that we will all bring new ideas, new partnerships, and new victories while conquering new heights in 2012!