April 13, 2011

SUNY Empire State College Faculty and Staff Meet with Russian Educators

(SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – April 13, 2011) – 113 West Ave. was the site of an international exchange among faculty and staff from three Russian institutions of higher education and SUNY Empire State College Center for Distance Learning and International Programs faculty and staff.

Representatives from Tula State University, The L. N. Tolstoy Tula State Pedagogical University, The Tula Region Teacher Professional Development Institute are visiting the colleges and universities in the Capital District on an Open World Leadership Program from the Library of Congress and the trip was organized by the Albany Tula Alliance.

Interim Dean Mackey, center, makes presentation to Russian educators.

Interim Dean Mackey, center, makes presentation to Russian educators.

Tom Mackey, interim dean of the college’s Center for Distance Learning, gave an overview of the center and the college, which was translated into Russian.

“I very much appreciate the Albany Tula Alliance’s interest in SUNY Empire State College. Meeting with the representatives from Russia provided opportunities to discuss open learning and distance education and to explore the possibilities for future collaboration,” said Mackey. “Our colleagues were aware that we offer online courses and complete degrees and they also expressed an interest in learning more about the foundation for our global success which is based on 40 years of experience in developing the relationship between faculty mentors and our learners, both online and onsite.”

Gavin Lowder, interim director of International Programs, expanded on the topic of distance learning and described the college’s international distance learning efforts.

Lowder explained that different modes of learning vary depending on the specific international partner institution. For example, at some locations college faculty travel at the beginning and end of the academic year for face-to-face interaction with learners, with study in a traditional classroom of partner institutions taking place in between.

The college also educates international learners online and increasingly, a blend of the two is employed to help learners achieve their educational goals.

Valeri Chukhlomin, center, makes presentation to Russian educators.

Valeri Chukhlomin, center, makes presentation to Russian educators.

Next on the program, CDL Area Coordinator Valeri Chukhlominreversed the format and gave his presentation in Russian.

Chukhlomin, who is from Omsk and has 25 years of teaching experience in Russia, Australia and the United States, discussed online learning and the cultural differences between Russian and American students. The Americans tend to read and follow text while Russians are a bit more inquisitive.

Elana Simonova, dean of the School of History and Law at The L.N. Tolstoy Tula State Pedagogical University presented on her faculty. Simonova shared that her institution’s online and distance education efforts were only three years old and were used primarily with part-time and evening students.

The college’s guests indicated that online degrees were considered of lesser quality in Russia and inquired about perceptions for online degrees in America and the assurance of quality.

Elana Simonova, dean of the School of History and Law at The L.N. Tolstoy Tula State Pedagogical University presents.

Elana Simonova, dean of the School of History and Law at The L.N. Tolstoy Tula State Pedagogical University presents.

Mackey responded that the perception of online learning and degrees in the U.S. has dramatically changed during the last five to ten years. More and more, he said, online degrees and education are becoming not just expected, but respected and demanded by students.

“Quality is assured at SUNY Empire State College by our world-class faculty and reflected in the SUNY degree they earn,” said Mackey. “SUNY is recognized around the world for its excellence in research, teaching and service.”

About the Albany Tula Alliance

The Albany Tula Alliance was founded in 1991 by a group of citizens from the Capital Region of New York as a sister city program. The alliance has expanded relations and now supports numerous educational, cultural, health, environmental and economic activities in the Capital Region and in the Tula Oblast of Russia.

About SUNY Empire State College

Celebrating its 40th anniversary throughout 2011, SUNY Empire State College was established in 1971 to offer adult learners the opportunity to earn associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the State University of New York. Students learn through independent studies, online courses, seminars and residencies. Learners also may earn credit for prior college-level learning from work and life experience.

The college serves more than 20,000 students worldwide at 34 locations in New York state and online. Its 60,000 alumni are active in their communities as entrepreneurs, politicians, business professionals, artists, not-for-profit agency employees, teachers, veterans and active military, union members and more.

For additional information, visit www.esc.edu. For more on the 40th anniversary, please follow this link .

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