Mail.ru Group to offer free distance learning to schools and universities

Mail.ru Group, Russia’s Ministry of Science and Higher Education and Ministry of Education have presented measures to help schools, colleges and other educational establishments to switch to distance learning quickly.

The parties have recommended schools to use the free tools provided by social networks VKontakte (VK) and Odnoklassniki (OK). Moreover, educational services GeekBrains, Skillbox and the Algoritmika programming school are all offering students free access to their online courses during these trying times. Mail.ru Group also launched a hotline for teachers and professors.

Studying via VK and OK

VK and OK account for 86% of Russian-speaking internet users*, so it’s safe to say that almost every student and professor has an account in these social networks. Schools and universities can organize distance learning through these social networks’ ready-for-use toolset.

- Private or public communities and chats for the class, group or course. Students and teachers will be able to post important information, engage in conversations, and also store documents, notes and even textbooks online.
- Live streams of lectures and lessons where video can be saved, webinars.
- Video lessons. OK and VK support group video calls for up to 100 people with the possibility to screen share.
- The option to share documents (presentations, files, tables), images, audio and video content.
- Ready-for-use apps within the networks (tests, application forms, etc.). The social networks also allow developing customized tools via mini-app platforms.

Distance learning hotlines

Mail.ru Group for Education community pages in VK and OK will have daily updates on the company’s services for distance learning: detailed instructions, lifehacks, video lessons. Any questions on distance learning can be submitted via private messages to 100+ Mail.ru Group employees and ambassadors in the company’s task group.

The VK team has prepared detailed instructions for teachers on using its platform. The VK Education community regularly updates news on VK’s tools for schools, while support team replies to questions sent via direct messages.

OK has also prepared a manual on its distance learning services. It’s official community for teachers will now feature a video-call hotline. OK’s support team will also have a separate line for teachers should they have any questions regarding the use of its distance learning tools.

Free services within the Mail.ru Group ecosystem

Three companies – GeekBrains, Skillbox and Algoritmika – are offering their online learning services to students for free.

GeekBrains will offer higher education establishments free access to its Learning Management System. The service will temporarily unlock access to courses in four categories: programming, design, management and marketing.

Online college Skillbox will grant free access to its materials on web layout design, Tilda pages, Photoshop and other classes in marketing, design and programming. Skillbox will also hold a series of free webinars with professors and market experts.

International programming school for kids Algoritmika is also unlocking its distance learning system. The school’s programs are targeting primary and secondary school students.

“Mail.ru Group’s ecosystem reaches more than 90% of the Russian-speaking internet users. Our services are used daily by schoolkids, students, teachers, and anyone engaged in vocational training. We have created a range of solutions which should help Russian educational establishments transfer classes from auditoria to the internet. We are prepared to support and guide schools, colleges and universities each step of the way on the path to distance learning,” said Boris Dobrodeev, CEO of Mail.ru Group.

“It is in our interest to see Russian schools and colleges move to distance learning rapidly, including through the means offered by accessible online education platforms. Mail.ru Group’s social networks are popular with children and teenagers, and are easily accessible. We support the company’s initiative to offer more educational platforms and services for free, and we advise our colleagues in Russia’s regions to make use of these options. This should help teachers massively when switching their classes to online learning,” said Sergey Kravtsov, Minister of Education of the Russian Federation.

“Our educational establishments need to transition to distance learning, and we are very glad to see Russia’s largest IT companies volunteering to provide their services and platforms for free. Among the many options that exist in the domain of distance learning, our teachers and students often choose Mail.ru Group services: social networks, email, cloud services, and others.  Therefore, we find it logical to offer students and professors free access to content and extra services within the communications and tech environment that they are used to. On behalf of the Ministry, I would like to express my gratitude to Mail.ru Group for providing this opportunity to students and teachers across Russia,” said Alexander Narukavnikov, Deputy Minister of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation.

*Source: Mediascope (Web Index, Desktop&Mobile), December 2019, cities 0+, ages 12+