The architecture of the digital environment is no less important today than spatial or landscape solutions in the material world. This is one of the main principles of building a modern university campus, said Olga Dergunova, Deputy President and Chairman of VTB Bank Management Board, GSOM SPbU Director, said while speaking at the International Congress Moscow Urban Forum.
As a part of the forum, Olga Dergunova participated in the panel discussion “Virtual Campus. How the geography of education in cities will change”. Speaking about the prospects for Business school's campuses, she highlighted:
“In the conditions of universal "distance" dictated to us by the pandemic, we are inventing a way to combine the best of two practices: online and offline. It is important to remember not only the convenience and efficiency of online learning. It is necessary to preserve a sense of identity, belonging to the university community. In the end, this is why a student comes to study, and a professor to work in a specific educational institution. The new hybrid training format offered by GSOM SPbU corresponds to this request. These are not only smart classrooms that we have equipped on the Mikhailovskaya Dacha Campus but also a fundamentally new teaching method, for which all teaching methods have been restructured. This format makes it possible to unite students in the classroom and remotely, providing everyone with the effect of presence and teamwork, the very community that we are talking about, plus - to improve the quality of our alumni” — she emphasized.
Olga Dergunova also urged to pay attention to the radical change in the degree of openness of universities: “Historically, universities are a closed environment: both as a community and as an organization that protects data about their students. But in new technological conditions, the digital footprint will always be with a person — the formation of digital portfolios in schools is already being discussed, which will be inherited by universities and passed on to employers. The only question is the effectiveness of their application".
Answering the question of Natalia Pochinok (the moderator and the Rector of the Russian State Social University) about the competition between classical and corporate universities, Olga Dergunova stressed:
“I am a supporter of the idea that everyone should do their own thing. The organization of corporate universities at one time became a kind of reaction to the lag of the academic environment behind the pace of business development. But today it is obvious that corporate universities will not provide that systemic and fundamental nature, that volume of education that classical universities give and due to which their alumni become interesting people and competitive specialists. And the specific skills required by the employer can really be learned during work. You can't master fundamental mathematics like that".
The session “Virtual Campus. How the geography of education in cities will change” was devoted to changing the relationship between universities and localities where they are located; the problem of leaving online and the possible loss of the social component of education in this regard; modern requirements for student campuses and their "integration" into the existing urban environment”.
For example, Natalia Kiseleva, Deputy Head of the Department of Education and Science of Moscow, spoke about the role of digital tools in strengthening ties between schools and universities. Dil Sidhu, Senior Advisor for Strategic Partnerships at edX international company, urged not to forget that universities are not only educational but also scientific centers, whose opportunities for international cooperation are only growing due to the online boom. Simplifying access to online education also broadens the horizons of students, who may not be limited to a specialized program, choosing really interesting additional courses.
Laura Spinadel, the Founder and Managing Director of BUSarchitektur (Austria) spoke about the experience of organizing one of the largest campuses in Europe for the Vienna University of Economics. It is designed for 30 thousand people and is positioned as a "space of freedom", a modern eco- and social system. During its construction, the following task was set at the forefront: all participants in the educational process and city residents should enjoy their time in this area.
Petr Kudryavtsev, the “Citymakers” partner, presented a project of the National Center for Physics and Mathematics (NCPM) in the suburb of Sarov (a science city in the Nizhny Novgorod Region) commissioned by Rosatom. It is intended to become an elite "forge of personnel" for Russian physics and mathematics. The designers are faced with the task of organizing a full-fledged “city within a city” Sarov-Satis, not only an educational and scientific center but also a tourist center. It should become the engine for the development of the entire territory, both spatial and economic.
Pascal Leistra, Senior Architect Atelier PRO (Netherlands; project developer of the Letovo School in New Moscow, is developing the campus of the Technical University in Delft), said that today's students are becoming “students of the world” - including going online, which means going off-campus. In this way, the role of the campus is not reduced, but, on the contrary, expanded to a "social space", it becomes "the heart of modern everyday life" - it is no longer just classes.
Summing up the session, Natalia Pochinok urged architects not to limit their understanding of the educational space to campuses, but to organize urban areas in such a way as to provoke interest in education among schoolchildren, students, working citizens, city guests, and retirees. And also she mentioned that they should do it with full compliance with the lifelong learning principle.