Education has no limits: how MAI international students study online
More than one and a half thousand foreign citizens from 80 countries study at Moscow Aviation Institute. Many students flew home as early as in spring during the self-isolation regime and now continue their studies, staying in their countries. Setting up distance learning for hundreds of people in different parts of the world turned out to be a difficult task, but the experts of the MAI Department of methodological support of educational activities and International Department made every effort to organize classes that comply with the curriculum for students of all courses, despite the difficult situation in the world, different time zones and closed state borders.
Distance learning for the Russian and international MAI students is implemented at two platforms: the LMS MAI (learning management system), which is developed and supported by the University’s e-learning department, and at the Microsoft Teams service. Taking into account that time zones are different, the lecture material was recorded in advance for the convenience of students of English-language programs, and seminars are implemented according to the comfortable schedule for all participants. Laboratory classes that require the direct presence of a student at MAI were postponed to the next semesters.
— For me the main advantage of the online-education is that I can watch the recorded lectures many times — notes Amira, the MAI freshman from Malaysia. — We also have time to translate lectures and make notes. When studying full-time, we would need to quickly write down what the lecturers say, I don’t always have time to get to the bottom of it.
The directorates of the institutes and the MAI International Department promptly solved all the problems that occurred during the first days of training. The management structure has a Center for Foreign Citizens Learning (CFCL), whose task is to full support students from their enrollment to graduation. Students can contact the CFCL not only for issues related to their studies, but also for solving their everyday problems. MAI also has a psychological service, where consultations in English are available.
— The distance-learning format requires us to be more focused and responsible. If there are problems with self-discipline, than the online learning process might seem especially difficult" — says Aruzhan, a third-year student from Kazakhstan. — For me personally the difficulties are not in completing tasks, but in starting them, because there are many distractions around. To avoid the temptation, you can go to co-working rooms, which are available in almost every MAI hostel. I also visited a psychologist to solve the problem with self-organization. It all helped me to pull myself together.
The COVID-19 pandemic has not become an obstacle for the extracurricular student life. This year, remote orientation meetings were held for all first-year students, during which representatives of the MAI International Department and MAI institutes told not only about the organization of the online educational process, but also shared plans for extracurricular online events for the upcoming academic year. In addition, in the summer of 2020, MAI opened an English conversation club — a platform where representatives of different countries share their knowledge, talk about their region, culture and national traditions. English conversation club meetings are now held online with the participation of invited guests, including representatives of universities in the UK and France.