Gamified Education and Blockchain for IPs: Winners of Potanin Foundation’s Grant Competition

This year, the Potanin Foundation’s grant competition for Master’s-level educators has received 881 applications from 72 Russian universities. 100 participants of the competition will receive grants of up to 500,000 rubles. Of 28 applications submitted by ITMO University staff, three have been named among the winners. What are these projects? Learn below.

Educational course “Use of Blockchain for IP Management in the Knowledge Economy” (winner in the “New Educational Course” category)

One of this year’s grant winners is Ibrahim Alnafrah, an engineer and PhD student from the Faculty of Technology and Innovation Management. The course he has developed will help non-specialists and students learn about blockchain technology and the intellectual property rights system. Most importantly, they’ll learn about the integration of blockchain into the IP management system.

“This course is an interdisciplinary platform that combines the technical and economic aspects of blockchain technology. It will illustrate the key issues of technology, as seen in the economic context, and especially in regards to IP management. There are no courses like this at ITMO University or in Russia; its closest counterparts are the Oxford University’s “Oxford Blockchain Strategy Programme”, the European Research Council’s “Blockchain & Society”, and IBM’s “Blockchain Foundation for Developers”,” explained Mr. Alnafrah.

When compared to its counterparts, the new course can boast two innovative features: first, it considers the various economic, legal, and technical aspects of integrating blockchain into IP management, which have not been studied previously. Secondly, it systematically combines economics and computer science and corresponds with the goals for development of the digital economy. As Ibrahim Alnafrah explains, the course should play a major role in accumulating scientific and practical potential, as well as knowledge, related to an IP management system that is necessary for Russia’s shift to a knowledge economy.

Ibrahim Alnafrah
Ibrahim Alnafrah

Overall, the course will cover four main topics: the technical and economic challenges of blockchain, the IP rights management system, the integration of blockchain into the IP system, and the blockchain-based management ecosystem of IP in the context of a knowledge economy.

The new course is intended for students majoring in IP Management, Innovation Management, Economics and Management, and Computer Science in Business. It will also be useful to specialists, experts, and university staff as a way to hone their teaching and research skills.

The course is being developed with the assistance of Irina Popova, an associate professor at the Faculty of Technology and Innovation Management, while professors Elena Bogdanova and Tatiana Maksimova will serve as consultants. “Use of Blockchain for IP Management in the Knowledge Economy” is expected to launch between late 2019 and early 2020.

Gamified Online Textbook (winner in the “New Educational Methods and Technologies” category)

Yulia Romanenko
Yulia Romanenko

The project “Gamification of Education and Creation of Individual Educational Tracks for Students of the ‘Effective Team Management’ Course”, developed by Yulia Romanenko, an assistant at the Institute of International Development and Partnership, was also among the winners. The project is comprised of an online textbook with gamified elements.

The system boasts a number of features. First, it provides students with information about their educational programs. Secondly, the project’s online nature means that students can download educational materials, complete assignments, take tests and receive feedback via the internet. After a course is completed, the system generates a student’s digital portfolio that reflects their achievements and skill levels.

Elements of gamification engage and motivate students, helping them stay competitive and maintaining their positive self-esteem.

“I was inspired to do this project by our students. It was thanks to the feedback we received from Master’s students, and our lively and interactive educational process, that I got the idea for a gamified online textbook that would become an extension of classes at the university. This is a direct response to our Master’s students’ desire to have access to materials and tests, to learn more about their program, to keep the evaluation process transparent, and to receive feedback from their teachers,” says Yulia Romanenko.

The textbook will be structured akin to a quest: using a map of the course, students can learn about its goals and objectives, the expected results, the rules, and other information. Students will then complete different levels, which include tasks, cases, visual material, and tests. A scoreboard will keep track of the teams’ scores, and statistical graphs will be available for both teams and individual students. Students can get in touch with their teachers and each other using forums and chatrooms.

“What makes this project so important is that it offers every student the opportunity to build their individual educational track. For instance, if a student fails an assignment twice, the system will detect that and direct them to additional material on the relevant topic (such as an article, a video, a mind map, and so on). This way we ensure a thorough understanding of all subjects at every stage,” explains Ms. Romanenko.

The project, as its developers say, will serve as an extension of the Master’s course in team management, and, eventually, of the Bachelor’s course in teambuilding and communication. It could also be integrated into other courses through simple substitution of content while keeping the same scenarios and mechanics. The textbook is even viable on its own as an online course.

Yulia Romanenko was joined by Kristina Ivanova, the head of ITMO University’s Foreign Language Training Center, and Maria Didkovskaia, the head of the University’s Internationalization Department, in the development of the project. In the future, the staff of the course “Effective Team Management” and students will also join the team.

The project’s development will begin in September 2019, with the launch planned for September 2020.

Online course “Business Process Modeling for Innovative Enterprises”

Boris Kovalenko
Boris Kovalenko

The third Potanin Foundation winner from ITMO University is Boris Kovalenko, a professor of the Faculty of Technological Management and Innovations. His course “Business Process Modeling for Innovative Enterprises” is designed for ITMO University students, and, eventually, all of Russia. Its developers primarily focused on entrepreneurial enthusiasts regardless of their age, gender, and professional training.

“The course aims to promote the idea of integrating the three key areas of knowledge: management, entrepreneurship, and technology. Unity of knowledge brings forth new competencies which, we believe, will help students test and evaluate their readiness for entrepreneurial activity in a virtual environment,” explains Prof. Kovalenko.

At the course’s basis are practical situations (cases), presented via video content. During theoretical and practical classes, students will learn about the methods and tools used to solve the cases in question. The key idea of this approach is to present business process modeling as a series of parallel and sequential types of work, also presented through video. Each clip describes a problem that could happen to anyone who is involved in entrepreneurial activity.

“How do you solve this or that issue typical to the Russian market? The students will learn about the methods and tools of problem resolution during lectures and practical classes. Imagine this: a “talking head” talks on the topic of choosing business partners. Then, we consider the various choices and possible outcomes. Which option do you choose if you expect a specific result? Which strategy should you adhere to, how do you achieve that result? Then, we show the forms and methods of partnership that could be used to produce the desired results,” says Prof. Kovalenko.

During practical classes, the students will be asked to justify various strategies chosen to achieve an end goal. To prepare themselves, they can examine texts and presentations on the different resolution methods or the metrics used to assess the degree of success.

Students are also supervised by teaching staff who can provide advice or explanation, and answer questions online. Completing the course, including the tests, will only require ten hours per week from the students, with ten weeks of studies in total.

“The idea of combining the three elements (management, entrepreneurship, technologies) into one course came in stages. It was preceded by the development and implementation of various courses over the past seven years. All in all, we launched some 20 variations. We also have experience with the creation and promotion of the online course “Basics of Management”, which was developed with the involvement of ITMO University staff and students. The University’s Distance Learning Center is providing technical support for the course. As of now, it gathers several thousand students per semester,” says Boris Kovalenko.

Along with Boris Kovalenko, the project team includes Olga Orlova, an assistant at the Faculty of Technological Management and Innovations, and Tatiana Gusarova, a Master’s student at the Faculty. The course is expected to launch in the fall of 2020.

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