10 июля 2020  |  
10:04 AM  September 7, 2017

As in Stanford: Tomsk programmers are taught by the world standards

© РИА Томск. Павел СтефанскийAs in Stanford: Tomsk programmers are taught by the world standards

Tomsk, 7 Sep – RIA Tomsk, Elena Taylasheva. Experimental program of bachelor degree for programmers started in Tomsk State University (TSU). Learning by doing model (training in the course of work), popular in the West, but still new to Russia will be tested on 42 students. How the best experience of Stanford and Massachusetts Institute of Technology was adapted in Tomsk, head of the Program Engineering program, Vice-Rector for IT Development Oleg Zmeev told RIA Tomsk.

To teach to study

– The university of world class can't be constructed without competence in Computer Science (CS, information scientists, computer sciences), – Zmeev tells. – All universities which enter the top ten of the world rankings, for example, Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) are included also into the first twenty on computer sciences. And a basis for CS is strong bachelor degree. We needed three years on creating the new program of training.

© предоставлено пресс-службой ТГУ
Oleg Zmeev, Vice-Rector for IT Development of TSU

– What it essentially differs from that was earlier?

– Our philosophy became absolutely another. For example, if to remember the Soviet school, and educational programs are constructed on a sample of the 1980th years in most Russian universities, then from its point of view the good student is that who has a good memory. Or – who well writes off. Old model of education is factual: they stated us the facts at lectures, we sorted them in the form of tasks at seminars, and the same facts passed during sessions.

But the world changes dynamically, and attempts to push the volume of knowledge, which constantly increases, in the human head lead to that the person doesn't understand: why he needs it? Why to learn some things if you Google and obtain all information – developed with comments, with an opportunity to look at the same event from the different points of view?

– Who is a good student for you?

– A good student for us is not that who has a good memory, and the one who is capable to solve the professional problem, being in a professional environment. The IT world changes even quicker. In four years student will start real life. But we don't know what will be in four years what problems he will solve what programming languages to use what technologies will be.

Everybody says: the world will be digital. But what exactly, nobody knows. Therefore, we have no other choice how to teach a person to study and make it him the vital principle. He has to derive pleasure from it.

Google for help

– It is easy to declare the phrase "to teach a person to study". But how to make it? Our program of bachelor degree is called pilot for a reason, its many theses still should be checked. But we have a hypothesis at least for IT specialists: in order that a person learned something, he has to try to do something.

© РИА Томск. Павел Стефанский
The principle of learning by doing which is widespread in the western education becomes a program cornerstone. If the theory isn't necessary for practice, then it doesn't need to be learned without fail. We remake up the content of disciplines and what is called educational logistics. Almost all material is mastered through practical tasks.

For example, there are eight laboratory works in a classical course of programming; everyone should be handed over for sure. Each student of our programme has to program for a certain number of points, choosing the individual trajectory from base of tasks which constantly is replenished.

The second moment: students are placed in a business environment. They use time managers, systems of automatic testing. The fact that students solve problems in a certain integrated environment reconstructs also work of a teacher. He can trace what happens to them who moves quicker whom he should give more difficult tasks and vice versa. Training becomes more personalized.

– There will be no theory at all?

– Will be, but student will begin to study it only when he understands himself: it is necessary to understand. Usually how: here is a theorem, here is a proof, learn, and sometime it, perhaps, will be necessary for you. Our method is reverse. Here is a task, solve it. But to solve this task, it is necessary to deal with a certain theorem. And then it turns out that, having dealt with the theorem, you can solve not only this problem, but also a block of others.

– And if they just google the answer?

– In it there is nothing bad. A modern person, being in modern conditions, has to be able to cope with problems. Whether you used the Internet, whether the book whether memory – it isn't important. Next time you will be given a task more difficult, even more difficult, and then – that which isn't written on the Internet, at least for those reasons that nobody solved it before you…

Then you will come to work, you will be a programmer, there will be tasks for you, and it will be all the same to your employer, if you looked for this purpose in Google or took the decision from your head. There is that digital era: a person is constantly connected to a world wide web.

Experience of authorities

– As base for the program we took the international standard of training of bachelors in the field of computer sciences. Everything was made according to it, and then is already entered in the framework of the Russian reality. We worked on filling of the program for three years, and it was important to have the correct reference points...

– With whom did you align yourself?

© РИА Томск. Павел Стефанский
– We constantly studied experience of three universities. The first is Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It is the best university of the world in general and the best university in the field of computer sciences. They are fashion-makers from the point of view of education. The second university which we had as priority, – Stanford. If MIT is more similar to the polytechnical university, then Stanford – purely classical university.

The third university is not so very famous, it is Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. But it is known that it is engaged in export of the American IT educations model. This experience is very interesting to us: TSU is interested in involvement of foreign students.

– What is specifically taken from their programs?

– Configuration of mathematical courses is more similar to MIT, configuration of IT courses – to Stanford. The sequence of programs – to Carnegie-Mellon. We, actually, looked for some invariant, comparing these three universities, and packed the program on the basis of this invariant, having added what was pleasant to us more.

For example, there is a special course which enters into computer sciences. We consider it very important, it is in Carnegie-Mellon, and in Stanford and there is no of such course in MIT. Directors of the IT companies, IT architects, developers of games and mobile applications, specialists in quality management and so on will visit students during  this course that the student could understand what specifically he wants from a profession as soon as possible.

Important detail is we did it not in a vacuum. Actually everything that occurs in the program, is defined by the companies which became it partners. First of all, it is the Bitworks Company which actively participated in conceptual design of the program.

Also it is the Space-O Technologies Company, "Siberian Information Systems", RedLine. Council of partners holds state examination; we are ready to give it on check final qualification work in the future. For them it is an opportunity to participate in high-quality improvement of IT education.

– I imagine how they were delighted!

– You don't even imagine! We have a hunger for IT personel. And an employer wants to receive the expert ready and capable to work right now, but not to spend several years for finishing his learning. It is planned that students will carry out a part of the working week in the real computer companies from a third year, to participate in their projects. The strengthened practice in the first two years of training will prepare them for it.

– Let's talk about the one who these lucky students on whom the new concept will be fulfilled?

– 30 Russian students and 12 foreigners (generally from North Africa, Southeast Asia and the Middle East) who will study in English started the programme since September 1. The contest for the "program engineering" direction was very high – up to 15 people into a place. So our children are very motivated. Many of them went with such spirit: I don't want anywhere!

They gave originals of documents and the statement for consent for enrollment on start of work of selection committee. To be so sure, it is necessary to have rather high point of Unified State Exam. Students of the top ten have about 280 that is for each examination they got more than 90 points. They are purposeful, understand what they want – to become software developers of a world class. OK. We will make it.

© предоставлено пресс-службой Томского госуниверситета
First-year students got green t-shirts with a logo, teachers – black. Zmeev remembers about "color differentiation of trousers" for fun, but in general considers branding of the program an important element: it allows to emphasize belonging to a certain circle.

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