IFLA SL Newsletter

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From Information to an Education System in Russia

by Olga K. Gromova,
Editor in Chief, Biblioteka v Shkole
[The Library in the School] newspaper,
First of September Publishing House,
Moscow
, Russia

maeots@libfl.ru

This paper analyses a two-year experience of running professional newspaper-based correspondence refresher courses for educators and children’s librarians. Developed by the First of September Publishing House, this system offers a selection of narrowly specialised courses, to be scaled up with time, and an original organisation of the learning process. The Biblioteka v Shkole course offering is used as a case study to describe the content and structural philosophy of this kind of training, and some conclusions drawn from the first two years of operation.

Professional Development

Through a Professional

Periodical: A Correspondence

Course Training Experience and

Tentative Conclusions

In Russia, given its great distances, poor communications, and a very uneven system of professional development, any professional periodical serving educators or librarians helps, one way or another, improve its readers’ skills. Most of the heads of specialist newspapers and journals are supportive of this trend, whether they consider it the norm or an enforced necessity. Each of the 20 professional newspapers brought out by the First of September Publishing House for people working in secondary schools and related fields is no exception.

We, at the editorial office of Biblioteka v Shkole(The Library in the School), were looking for possible ways of training our specialist readership. Our newspaper includes a “Self-Education” head and a large section reserved for practical articles on advanced library work practices. We even ran an intramural refresher program we called the “Library School” (four enrolments in 2.5 years), which proved to be quite effective and popular but could not accommodate all those who applied. Still and all, these were one-off exercises, and professional improvement remains a sore point for many of our readers. Helping readers improve their expertise is a matter to which the First of September Publishing House has long been giving considerable thought. Narrowly specialised optional courses appeared to be the most appealing and feasible approach.

How It is Run

Contracts and licenses.

In 2003, the First of September Publishing House entered into an agreement with the Faculty of Pedagogical Education of Moscow State University for supervising correspondence refresher courses and issuing graduation diplomas to the reader trainees who successfully completed a course. The contract stipulated the First of September philosophy and procedure of these courses as well as trainees’ certification.

Enrolment.

An enrolment advertisement appears in journals and the publishers’ web site, www.1september.ru, from March on, and applications are admitted from April through October. Applicants are billed for tuition. The tuition fee covers the examination of test papers, answers to questions that may arise during the course, postage fees, and the mailing of a diploma. Training set-up. Each course consists of eight lectures, which appear in the journal columns from September through December, one per issue. Lectures are accompanied by self-examination questions and a list of supplementary literature on the topic. After lectures 3 and 5, trainees are given a test they are supposed to do and send back to the editorial office. After lecture 8, trainees are expected to do some practical work: to apply their acquired expertise to their job and make a description of this activity (which may be an open lesson, a class, or a library event), accompanied by testimonials and the administration’s certificate of the event. For the first and second tests each trainee receives a testimonial and a pass-fail rating. All works must be examined before April. If both tests and the final work are passed, after the final work the trainee receives a graduation diploma instead of a testimonial. The diploma is supposed to be recognised in any skill certification. If an examination paper is found to be unsatisfactory, we will send the trainee a review explaining their errors and suggest redoing the work or a part of it.

Conclusions

We find the total numbers of trainees of the first and second academic years quite encouraging. Clearly, the idea of the course has caught on. And last but not least, our courses, while inexpensive, are generally paying, though not too much. We consider self-repayment an ample result and do not contemplate getting a profit out of it yet. The popularity of home study supported by a professional newspaper shows that the demand for this mode of professional improvement is far in excess of supply, particularly in rural areas. According to our data, about half of our students live in the countryside and small towns. We must admit that the proportion of our trainees who live in cities came as a surprise. They account for roughly 50% of all students, which shows that all is not well with librarians’ professional development in large cities.

Olga K. Gromova,

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January 8, 2007 - Posted by | 2. Issue 42, 3. Theme:42: SL-education, Russia

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