“Without critical thinking, we cannot cope with the avalanche of information. And without the ability to work in a team, it is impossible to implement any serious projects.” – Eugene Moturnak, Ukraine
The winner of the first Windows 8 App-a-thon wasn’t initially drawn to the world of education. “As a child I wanted to be a programmer,” says Eugene Moturnak. “But I got a degree in economic cybernetics.” It was Moturnak’s wide range of interests — physics, mathematics, psychology and books that led him to the world of teaching. “I discovered that only in the world of education could I use all my interests,” notes Moturnak. “Not only that, you must continually develop yourself in order to teach others. That’s what led me into education.”
Moturnak’s winning app is titled, “Electrical Scheme Constructor,” and demonstrates how to conduct electricity. Students can conduct their own virtual experiments with the construction of electrical circuits, and the app offers short tips and links to theoretical material.
Teaching suits Moturnak well, and he mentors other teachers through master classes and webinars devoted to innovation in education. “The most exciting innovation in education is free access to information,” adds Moturnak. “Earlier there were problems with sources of information. Now we have so much information that we have to filter it all, critically appreciating it. It’s a modern problem, but it’s a great opportunity, too. And students have to use and manage information technologies to their advantage.”
I hope you enjoy today’s Daily Edventure with Eugene Moturnak.
Can you tell us about a favorite teacher, or someone who made a difference in your education?
I had a few teachers who were inspirational, including my class teacher Tatiana Bondarenko and my mathematics teacher Valery Velikin. They both explained complex mathematical problems simply, and I just fell in love with math. And my teacher of informatics, Natalia Bulanova, taught me how to teach by giving the student the right tasks. She has given me very important life advice.
Please describe how your professional achievements have advanced innovation in education. What has changed as a result of your work?
The creation of the courses, “Information Worker” and “Information Technology in Business Planning.” Both of these courses are based on a new concept of integrated education. In school, students learn academic subjects separately. As a result, they form a mosaic picture of the world where mathematics, languages, history and other subjects are separated. In addition, students often do not learn how to set goals for themselves, plan their achievements and implement their plans. In most cases, a teacher prepares all tasks and plans.
I see the lack of persistent teamwork skills on complex projects as another problem. The course “Information Worker” brings together all subjects to work on six IT projects: layout of a book, an art video, interactive book, a computer model, a statistical study and a public presentation. In this case, students choose their own theme of the project and plan to do the work in time. A team of four people works on all the projects, each performing a separate role. The work requires the use of many information and communication technologies. It takes both cooperation and individual drive.
After the introduction of this course in Ukrainian schools, interest increased not only in informatics, but also in other school subjects. Teachers have also told me they like to work in a new format: project management. Using this course as an example, we want to develop a comprehensive system of teaching children of all ages, not just high school students.
Is there a 21st century skill (critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, or creativity and innovation) that you are most passionate about? Why?
I choose two: critical thinking and collaboration. Without critical thinking, we cannot cope with the avalanche of information. And without the ability to work in a team, it is impossible to implement any serious projects.
If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?
I would give the child the world to explore. Toys, games, educational stands, even my App-a-thon program – they are models that gives children the opportunity to explore the world.
How must education change in your country to ensure that students are equipped to thrive in the 21st century?
There are many state and private educational projects in Ukraine and in the Dnipropetrovsk region, where I live. Schools are mostly equipped with computers and new curricula have been developed for students. Teachers are being trained in new technologies. Much has already been done, but there are still many problems to be solved. The main problem is motivation: motivation of students to learn complex subjects, and to create new things instead of using only the creations of someone else. I think that we need not only computer technologies, but also new approaches to education based on these new technologies.
Children of the 21st century learn information and communication technologies very early, but they generally use them first as toys. Schools have to teach them how to use such technologies as tools to solve real life problems. Thus there is a need not only in computers, tablets, and smartphones but also in the methods of their use. Cloud technologies offer the opportunity for remote collaboration, not only students of one school, but for students around the world. Therefore, the teacher should assign tasks that encourage collaboration. Today’s teacher is more a manager than a lecturer.
What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome to ensure students are receiving a quality education?
The greatest obstacle – as in any communication – is not understanding each other. If the teacher does not understand the student, their needs and aspirations and the image in their minds, then he cannot interest the students, and cannot teach them. If a student does not understand the teacher, it becomes uninteresting and boring. His eyes do not light up and he stops learning. The school must use all available means to eliminate this confusion. On the one hand, the teacher must be a psychologist, high-level professional and personal example for the student. And, on the other hand, new pedagogical approaches, new information and communication technologies are promising many new ways to learn, including distance learning, self-study, using professionally prepared materials, teamwork in solving real-life problems. That’s the education of the 21st century.
How can teachers or school leaders facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned through your work?
I think that every teacher can find his own way in education. And then he should share that way with others. My own way to teach, to provide new technologies in school I share with others in the pages of educational magazines and in master classes. I develop training programs, write textbooks, and take part in seminars and webinars.
About Eugene Moturnak
- Birthplace: Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine
- Current residence: Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine
- Education: University degree in economic cybernetics
- Website I check every day: There are several. First of all it’s my email. I correspond with many people and always look forward to letters. I cannot resist checking mail every free minute. Then I check ukr.net for Ukrainian and world news and Wikipedia for new articles and help in my research. Last but not least, I visit my poetry page at stihi.ru. Lately, I have been writing textbooks and educational materials, and not poetry. But this is no doubt an important part of my life.
- Person who inspires me most: It’s my friend and colleague Volodymyr Kostukov. In his sixties he is full of energy, plans and ideas. He is really an example of a man who lives to create and creates for life.
- Favorite childhood memory: When I was 12, my father and I went to the forest lake. The way there was through a narrow winding channel between the walls of reeds. It was shallow and in some places we even had to carry the boat, sinking knee-deep in silt. Suddenly the walls of reeds parted and we saw the lake. It was huge, beautiful, and covered with a scattering of yellow and white water lilies. It was an amazing discovery. It was a difficult trip to see such beauty, but it was worth it. Now I often think about it. Perhaps, education is like the channel that leads to wonderful discoveries.
- Next travel destination (work or pleasure): This will be the city of Kherson in Ukraine, where this year’s All-Ukrainian Tournament of young computer scientists is held. I am one of the judges.
- When was the last time you laughed? Why? I laugh very often, occasionally many times each day. This may be a friend’s joke or funny situation.
- Favorite book: Andre LaMothe’s “Tricks of the 3D Game Programming Gurus-Advanced 3D Graphics and Rasterization.” I’m joking of course, but the book is really good, I like it. I love to read classics. And my favorite books are Put Off Thy Shoes by Ethel Lilian Voynich and The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy.
- Favorite music: I like any good music. Sometimes it’s a guitar and voice — bard music as it called in our country, another time it can be Yanni’s compositions or Queen.
- What is the best advice you have ever received? Do not listen to bad advice.
- Your favorite quote or motto: “Look at the root and imagine leaves.”
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