Telecentre Europe Awards 2016 Entry: Digital Changemaker

Olga Mikheeva

Country: Russia

City/Town: Togliatti

Work Place: Togliatti State University

Position: senior lecturer

Years in service in current organization: 24

Nominated by:  Bela Tumasova, project coordinator, PH International

1. WORK EXPERIENCE

Olga Mikheeva has been a Computer Science lecturer since 1992. Being a highly qualified IT expert, holding a Master’s degree in applied Computer Science, Ms. Mikheeva always seeks to provide her students with opportunities for continuous education in digital literacy and multimedia technologies. Within 24 years of her work at the university she has taught 10 000 students – IT specialists. As a certified Cisco Networking Academy Instructor, Olga is teaching the IT Essentials authorized Cisco Course.

Alongside with teaching students, Ms. Mikheeva runs the Methodology of E-Teaching retraining course for school teachers, developed by her together with the City Department of Education. Using Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) as an opportunity to create a supportive environment for teachers to explore and express themselves in new ways through open and digital education, Ms. Mikheeva developed the Information and Media Literacy for Teachers MOOC in 2014. Her MOOC on Digital Literacy got 1st prize in the 2015 Mook EdCrunch competition. 

Ms. Mikheeva has published 20 methodological and research papers on teaching programming on and methodology of e-learning.

2. CONTRIBUTION TO DIGITAL INCLUSION AND EMPOWERMENT

Fully aware of the urgent need to provide more opportunities for e-skills training to a wider range of youngsters, Olga became the initiator of the Coding Сlasses initiative in Togliatti. Under her supervision over 10 coding classes were created, where school kids under the guidance of Computer Science teachers and volunteers learn ICT and get to know about opportunities that the IT industry provides to young people.

At Ms Mikheeva’s initiative, two IT schools were launched in Togliatti, where secondary school children under the supervision of university lecturers and IT students get practical IT skills required for being employed, and raise their awareness on the benefits of being digitally included people.

Thanks to Olga’s direct involvement in ICT promoting, the number of applicants for studying ICT in Togliatti state university has increased.

Since 2010 Olga has coordinated 2 projects implemented in partnership with PH International – Microsoft-funded Tvoy Kurs and current IT for Youth. Since she headed the IT-Center, over 30 000 people have made use of its various free services and have taken part in educational and promotional events.

3. LEADERSHIP, COOPERATION, AND RESOURCE MOBILISATION 

Extraordinary managerial talents and an impressive ability to persuade others in the importance of ICT training have enabled Olga to find like-minded enthusiasts and to constantly expand her sphere of influence. Thanks to her efforts, strong partnerships between the City Department of Education, schools and IT-companies have been established to promote ICT to young people and foster the youth employability.

Organising IT-schools, coding classes, student volunteers teams to run free training for disadvantaged adults and young people - all requires negotiation, convincing and managing various partners, and most importantly the vision of how to improve the current situation and enable people to change their lives for the better. 

To disseminate the best practices from Russia and share international experience, Ms. Mikheeva organises numerous conferences, codethons and international campaigns for youth (Hour of Code, Get Online Week, DigiGirlz).

4. SOCIAL IMPACT

In organizing her work and facilitating partnerships with the local government bodies, educational institutions and IT companies, Ms.Mikheeva continues to contribute significantly to promoting ICT learning. Youngsters are provided with the practical ICT skills that will help them become more competitive in the labor market. They get free access to up-to-date computer science education, trainings and resources within the IT for Youth project.

Thanks to Olga's dedication, for the first time the University opened its doors to the citizens of Togliatti and offered free access to IT center and training.  For the first time student volunteers team was formed to provide free digital literacy training to the city population, including disadvantaged people. In the last six years, over 30 000 citizens from different backgrounds and age groups have benefitted from the IT-center services and have been trained by Olga personally, her colleagues and student volunteers in digital literacy, employability workshops, and more advanced IT courses. 

Over 8 000 participants benefitted from taking Ms.Mikheeva’s MOOC aimed at empowering its participants with the coding skills. The overwhelmingly positive participant feedback underscored the relevance and value of Olga’s Information and Media Literacy for Teachers MOOC, that was relaunched four times, and over 2000 educators from Russia and other countries were trained and certified.

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