Moscow Online School: instructions for use

Moscow Online School: instructions for use
City schools have been using the new platform for about one month. Mos.ru is trying to find out what teachers, parents and children can do with these new technologies.

Unveiled in early September, the Moscow Online School platform now operates at all city schools. But not everyone understands its principle of operation and the advantages it offers to those involved in the academic process. Mos.ru is trying to learn more about the system, so as to help parents, children and probably some teachers.

What are the main elements of the Moscow Online School?

An online materials library, class register and daybook are the system’s main elements. Online daybooks have been around for quite a while, but the platform has expanded their potential still further.

What are its advantages?

The first advantage is obvious: Online textbooks are now stored at school libraries, and students no longer have to haul heavy bags to school. They can either carry tablet computers along or print out materials for a specific lesson.

Online daybooks record home assignments, so it’s no longer necessary to write them down. Parents can access online daybook accounts from anywhere in Russia and abroad via the internet. This is a good option for business travelers. They can always keep track of their children’s academic progress and see what they have learned. 

Introducing the online materials library

The online materials library stores textbooks, teaching aids and lesson scenarios, which have replaced lesson plans. These resemble presentations with graphic materials and assignments. Teachers all over the city can borrow the relevant scenarios from a library and use them. It is also possible to adapt ready-made materials or to create one’s own materials. In the latter case, educators can store lesson scenarios in the general-access section, after sending them in for moderation.

This system allows teachers citywide to exchange experience and encourages healthy competition between them, because any scenario can be assessed and system administrators keep track on how many times they have been downloaded.

The children-library interface

Children download the uchebnik.mos.ru app on their tablet or personal computers. When the teacher launches a lesson on his or her tablet computer, all students in the class automatically join in simply by opening the app. Teachers and students do not have to be on the same WiFi network. A student who is ill and staying home can access the lesson scenario from his or her PC or tablet computer and take part in the process. A student who was present at the lesson but did not understand something can review the material using the lesson scenario.

Changes in the daybook

The online class register and daybook are connected to the library. The daybook shows the subject of the lesson. This subject is subdivided into various sections, so-called controlled education content elements. For example, children have studied primitive people and the origin of art during a lesson devoted to primitive society. These elements provide direct hyperlinks to related library materials. To access homework or review any aspect, a student just needs to click on the daybook’s hyperlink. Parents can also keep track of their children’s daily progress. The daybook also shows academic performance trends.

Relationship between the daybook and the class register

They are not just linked – they are the same system. Teachers have their own interface, and another interface is available to students and their parents. For example, teachers can see their schedule, working software, home assignments and class registers. The class register resembles its paper equivalent and lists children, dates and marks. The subjects of lessons are uploaded from the calendar plan.

Parents and children can see the daybook, the system’s second element, through different accounts. In addition, parents and teachers can correspond confidentially.

How do interactive white-boards work?

An interactive white-board is a large sensor screen with a diagonal length of 84 inches. All white-boards have online access and access to the online library, and the teacher controls the white-board either by touching it or from his or her tablet computer. The teacher launches the lesson scenario, and children join in through apps on their personal devices. The lesson scenario has three similar, but not identical, layers. The white-board displays the first layer. The second layer and optional additional comments are stored on the teacher’s tablet computer. And students’ tablet computers store the third layer. A child watching the lesson scenario at home can access all layers, including the teacher’s layer.

Interactive white-boards allow teachers to make vivid and creative presentations. Some subjects, including stereometry (solid geometry), benefit by the use of 3D images. Online access makes it possible to quickly find anything, including laws, research papers, videos, etc.

It is possible to draw with a finger on the white-board. Modern children, who are used to gadgets, like this process very much. While learning history, they can go up to the white-board and draw trade routes or circle the territories inhabited by various tribes.

Are tablet computers necessary?

No, the system allows children to look at the interactive white-board, work and use traditional textbooks instead of tablet computers. Actually, tablet computers are just one instrument of lesson scenarios, and they can function with or without tablets. As we have already said, it is possible to print out the lesson scenario’s slides.

Who decides whether to use tablet computers?

Above all, the family.

Do parents have to buy them?

Some schools pay for part of tablet computer purchases, but in general, it's mostly parents. The good news is that the system uses tablet computers with any operating system, including Windows, Android and iOS. Parents can choose the most affordable device. Technical parameters are not important.

The relationship between interactive white-boards and tablet computers

Their online databases are synchronised. This is a Russian development that stipulates a model for each device, and the app provides the required interface. The teacher’s tablet computer is the central “command post.”

Communications are also maintained via the online class register and daybook. All children are pegged to the class. Suppose a teacher starts a lesson in Grade 5B; he or she selects the classroom, and all Grade 5B students join in by default. Therefore all children with an open app take part in the lesson.

Do children need internet access all the time?

This depends on the context. Children attending the online lesson scenario need constant access to the internet. They can stack their library textbooks, teaching aids or scenario materials on their desktops and read them offline.

How will all this influence students’ marks?

All city districts have introduced the system starting just this year. However, some schools, including School No. 1995, started to use it earlier. In the past two years, the system has been used to teach biology, history and chemistry. Biology students started receiving 12 percent more good and excellent marks. And the number of good and excellent marks for history and chemistry students increased by 15 percent and ten percent, respectively.