30 Mar 2020

Volunteers help GSOM students to figure out online platform

Since March 16, the Graduate School of Management of St. Petersburg University has been conducting all academic programs online, using the Microsoft Teams platform for remote work. The transition was required to be completed in a short time, and hundreds of students and dozens of lecturers had to figure it out with online tools. Students Kamila Isakova, Albert Mallyamov, Maya Shafranskaya, Liana Navshirvanova and Daria Vikulova volunteered to help their colleagues deal with the system. We asked them about the advantages of the platform and how to effectively study and work online.


“I decided to help, because I understand that the process of transferring education online simultaneously for the entire faculty and the university as a whole is not an easy task, and if I can help the GSOM Family at least somehow, I’m ready to offer it” , — Daria Vikulova, a first-year student of the MiM program shared her thoughts. Volunteers faced difficulties in starting to learn in a new format too, and therefore, having understood the Microsoft Teams program, they wanted to help others do it quickly: “It seemed rather difficult to me to quickly begin to study online. That is why I wanted to help other students so that they would not have any difficulties,” — Kamila Isakova, first-year Bachelor program student, said.


Now all classes are on schedule, and an operational group of student volunteers helps other students quickly solve technical difficulties if they face them.


Volunteers were instructed with a specialist from the Microsoft center, where they understood the system tools. Students noted the versatility and intuitive interface of the MS Teams platform. “Teams is a pretty convenient site with many features. It allows the entire group to work online on one document by exchanging comments. It’s also convenient that the platform allows students to be splitted on different channels for group tasks,” Maya Shafranskaya, a third-year Bachelor program student, said.


Also, volunteers  noted that the ability to save all materials — lectures by professors, chat histories, previously sent files —  is one of the advantages of the system. The service allows users to create teams for group work, and saves their composition upon exit and the next time the system is turned on. “This platform is suitable for long-term interaction, and this compares favorably with Skype, Meet, etc.,” Albert Mallyamov, third-year Bachelor student, shared his expression .


Students appreciated the coordinated work of all GSOM services, students and faculty, and noted that the transition to online did not cause great difficulties. “The transition to online is a big challenge for all GSOM stakeholders,” Albert said, “but despite the difficulties we are currently facing, the School, in comparison with other universities, showed miracles of organization: during the online training we had only 2 pairs postponed, the material of the remaining classes was not lost at all, and we conduct classes in the same rhythm and schedule.”


Volunteers believe that the transition to online education can be an incentive for the development of new learning formats. “In-person lectures on some subjects can be perfectly conducted online, and platform tools allow you to organize interactive classes. The advantage of online is the saving of time, which makes it possible to do other things,” Liana Navshirvanova, a third-year Bachelor student, shared her opinion.


Volunteers gathered recommendations that will help students quickly adapt to online education and not be distracted by entertainment.


  • Equip a convenient work place — with a desk, computer, notepad or notebook for notes.

  • Take lecture notes to better memorize material.

  • Do not get distracted during lectures  on cooking or other activities.

  • Set time limits for using social networks on your phone.

  • Dress almost the same way as you do on campuses.

  • Change type of activity from time to time. You can walk around the apartment, drink water, do exercises.


Volunteers note that it is too early to judge the effectiveness of the educational process online, but the current changes will definitely affect the teaching methods and approaches in the future. The quality and quantity of knowledge that students receive in a new format does not differ from usual, but they already miss classes in the auditorium with professor and classmates and in-person communication.