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Integration of ICT in education in the Russian Federation

Integration of ICT in Education in the Russian Federation – Key Element for Future Economy Growth
World economy has experienced dramatic growth over the past several decades. World GDP has increased by more than 60 percent in 2000 – 2008 (Diagram 1). Knowledge and technological innovations played the role of driving force in that process. Development and use of new technological innovations have been major contributors to increased productivity, the improvement of physical and human capital and the construction of new knowledge.
Diagram 1: World GDP and GDP growth rate (2000-2008)

Development of information and communication technologies (from cell phones to laptops with wireless connection to the Internet) has changed the way people live and work. New knowledge and the use of new technologies have resulted in the creation of new products, services, and jobs, some of which were unimaginable only a few decades ago.
Unfortunately not all citizens are prepared to participate in the knowledge economy or benefit from its products. Not all countries are prepared for the global competition that comes with open markets, increased trade, and reduced costs of communication and transportation. Some fall further behind and become less competitive.
Rapid development of technology and creation of knowledge have put great stress on educational and other social systems responsible for preparing society for the future. Worldwide economic and social changes have significant implications for human capital development and education policy. Countries have realized the need to rethink their education systems to prepare students for the global economy, maintain economic progress, and assure that their citizens will benefit equitably from these developments. Education and training are increasingly perceived as “a fundamental key to wealth creation and competitiveness in the current global information economy”.
In order to prepare students for the global economy, to maintain economic and social progress adjustments in education systems should be made. To participate in the knowledge economy and the information society, students need to leave school with a deeper understanding of school subjects. They will need skills necessary to respond to opportunity and uncertainty – to think critically, collaborate, communicate, solve problems, create, and continue to learn.
Importance of Education
Education serves as the mean to bring about the desired change in the society. It furthers development of knowledge society and contributes to the development of conscious human beings. The general purpose of education is to gain knowledge and acquire technical competency. Education serves as the mean to develop oneself physically, mentally and socially. It helps persons to define their career objectives, decide what they want from life and enable them to achieve success in their fields of interest. Education may open doors for new opportunities in various fields. It enables individuals venture into new fields and explore new areas, helps realization of personal goals.
In the context of country policy education is to further processes such as:
- knowledge-based economic growth;
- decrease in unemployment rate;
- reduction of poverty and increasing inequality in wealthy;
- better health and reduction of population pressures;
- more effective democracy and political stability;
- lower crime rates.
Education is considered as a part of a collaborative dynamic process to enable growth and development in the support of modern society. Education is a key driver in the creation of knowledge to accelerate diffusion of innovations and encourage their development.
Information and Communication Technologies
Technology appeared in the history through systematic changes including cultural and social alterations. Those changes formed consecutive epochs of development, which are known today as industrial revolutions. Basically there have been three revolutions. The first was followed by the creation of steam engine in the late eighteen century. Major characteristic of the first revolution was the replacement of hand tools by machines. In other words, that was the process of displacement of manual labor by machinery. The second industrial era started in the late nineteenth century from the invention of electricity. Second industrial revolution was characterized by the development of large-scale factory production. The third revolution began in 1970s with the born of the transistor, personal computer, and telecommunication.
Table 1: The Three Industrial Revolutions
1st Industrial Revolution 2nd Industrial Revolution 3rd Industrial Revolution
Beginning Late 18th century Late 19th century Mid-to-late 20th century.
Key technologies Printing press, steam engine, machinery Electricity, internal combustion, telegraph, telephone Transistor, personal computers, telecommunications, Internet
Archetypical workplace Workshop Factory Office
Organization Master- apprentice-serf Large vertical hierarchies Horizontal networks
Industrial revolutions have strong impacts on the world economy. Like other technological changes, invention of information technology is expected to increase productivity, improve the quality of life, reduce price, create new economic activities and new employment opportunities. It was assumed that the impact on economy can be beneficial to all countries, regardless of their level of development.
The differences between the economies based on old industry and the new knowledge based economy are not only quantitative, but also qualitative. The world is experiencing an era of changes not because the computer operators have replaced the typists all over the world, but rather because the human pursuits for increase of welfare are now based on a completely different source of welfare. To the extent that agriculture based economy differs from the economy based on industry, the information technologies have created a radically different and innovative economy.
Today’s knowledge-based society is a broad concept related to the ongoing transformation process of production activities making knowledge more prominent as a factor of production and social integration. More broadly speaking, it simply reflects a society where there is a learning and knowledge process in each part of work and everyday life, thus building up human capital and regarding a stock of intellectual/intangible capital in products and services as the basis of the knowledge-based society. Open access to all knowledge generating, transforming and using activities for all citizens is considered crucial for social cohesion.
Economic Growth in the Knowledge Economy
Economic growth has to be stimulated by creation of favorable conditions in the country, which is crucial for economy development. But even more important is to provide sustained growth over a continuous period of time. Small change in growth can be reflected in a huge difference in an economy. For example, a 3 percent annual growth rate doubles the size of an economy in 23 years. In comparison a 2 percent growth rate does it in 35 years. With a 5% growth rate that process takes only 14 years.
Growth in economic output can occur with an increase in input factors: more equipment is purchased and more workers enter the labor force. That is what economists call capital accumulation. However, growth based on capital accumulation leads to diminishing returns, as far as additional increases in input result in smaller and smaller increases in output. Alternatively, growth can occur with an increase in the economic output per person. That is an increase in productivity. Increased productivity is the key to raising the standard of living and to sustained growth. Economic theory describes three factors that can lead to increased productivity:
- capital deepening;
- higher-quality labor;
- technological innovation.
Capital deepening is found in the use of equipment that is more productive than earlier versions; higher-quality labor – in a more knowledgeable workforce that is more productive; technological innovation – in the creation, distribution, and appropriate use of new knowledge.
Technological innovation is different from the introduction of technology equipment. It is the application of this technology to develop new products and services and to create new knowledge. Knowledge has some special qualities. Unlike raw material, it can be used multiple times without depreciated value, and unlike equipment, it can be used by many people at the same time. Therefore additional investments in knowledge creation can lead to continuous growth.
Education Contribution to Economic Growth
Education has a high return on investment. This fact is supported by the results of both international microeconomic and macroeconomic studies. While microeconomic studies focus on the benefit of educational investments to individuals, macroeconomic studies focus on returns to the economy in a more broad aspect. Analysis of microeconomic data from 42 countries found that an average rate of return for an additional year of schooling was a 9.7 percent increase in personal income . A crosscountry macroeconomic study found that there was an additional 0.44 percent growth in a country’s GDP per capita for each additional average year of attained schooling – a return on investment of 7.0 percent. Other studies have found more optimistic results – returns of up to 12.0 percent.
Basic literacy and numeracy skills were sufficient for the large majority of laborers who were needed to staff the factory floors in the manufacturing economy. This large workforce was supplemented by the relatively few who had higher degrees in engineering, business administration, and law and who managed and supported the manufacturing effort and kept it efficient. Consequently, the education system could serve the economy by identifying a few highly promising students for advanced study and providing basic skills to the rest.
However, this is no longer sufficient for the 21st century knowledge economy and information society. High-level service providers require a different and broader set of skills than those that was sufficient for the manufacturing economy. This set of skills include technological and media literacy, effective communication, critical thinking, problem solving and collaboration. These are the skills needed to produce new intellectual and creative works that have value to others. These are the skills that humans will need in the 21st century.
ICT have changed the traditional learning environment by including new educational tools in the process of learning. The new concept of learning supposes the use of new multimedia technologies. In other words, the Internet improves the quality of learning by facilitating access to resources and services.
Informatization in Russia
Main priorities of modern public policy in Russia are connected with construction of effective market economy, formation of civil society and development of human potential in the country. The main goal of school informatization includes preparation of students to effective participation in domestic, public and professional spheres of life in knowledge economy.
In Russia as in other countries informatization beside the main goal furthers achievement of following sub goals:
- education quality improvement;
- education access improvement;
- increase of country’s economy potential;
- integration of national education system in science, industrial, social and cultural informational infrastructure of the world society.
Unfortunately instructional methods in Russian schools have changed relatively little over the past several decades and provide few opportunities for students to develop the analytical thinking and problem-solving skills that are valued in today's labor market. Technical skills and knowledge of ICT are crucial today. It is evident that use of ICT vastly simplifies the education process, and can make it possible for ordinary teachers and students to collect, organize, use, and assess information from a much wider variety of supportive materials.
Russia with its strong academic and intellectual traditions has the potential to develop a skill-based high-technology role through further development of its human capital. A lot of reforms are to be made in the country in the nearest future in order to participate in global knowledge economy.
Modern school has to prepare children for life in society based on knowledge as far as wellbeing of certain citizens, society and the country in whole depends first of all on development of knowledge and competence of people, i.e. human capital. Investing in its development is the most effective way of resource spending.
Education system is to solve grave problems in all sectors of the economy. Those problems cannot be solved without broad informatization of education.
From one hand, crisis development of Russian society has difficult reflection on its educational potential, material and technical base of education system, its personnel, condition of scientific and methodic provision, informational resources. From the other hand, informatization of education system will provide new opportunities for solving problems connected with maintenance and increase of educational potential.

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