The idea for ITMO Thanks emerged last August during an online intensive course on mentorship as leadership for ITMO lecturers that was organized by the Department of Academic Affairs. Apart from approaches to mentorship and new educational technologies, the participants discussed methods for dealing with professional burnout.

“2023 was the year of mentor and educator. We know firsthand how much time, skills, and mental resources our lecturers pour into their students and how hard this job can get. However, it is not always equally rewarding, which can lead to professional burnout and even a career change. ITMO Thanks is an heir to “be friendly”, a part of the strategic project Well-Being; the initiative aims to support the university’s lecturers and mentors,” shared Ekaterina Dzhavlakh, the head of ITMO’s Office of Educational Technologies. 

The new project is a result of collaboration between the teams of ITMO.Expert, ITMO.Family, be ITMO, and ITMO mentors, while the website was developed with assistance from students of the Bachelor’s program Computer Technologies in Design Maryana Kovaleva, Gleb Venedictov, Shakhzodbek Iskandarov, and Nikita Anokhin.

On the platform, ITMO students, staff, and graduates can express their gratitude to any member of ITMO.Family – or even an entire department. The message can include a funny story, a piece of advice shared by an educator, or a life-changing decision they helped the author make. According to the minds behind ITMO Thanks, students and especially graduates now have the opportunity to thank their lecturers even years after graduation. After passing moderation, messages are published on the page and delivered to the addressees via email.

The university’s administrative departments also appreciated the initiative. Among more than 200 messages sent via the platform, some are addressed to the Strategic Development Department, Staff Support Office, Student Services Office, and others.

“We discussed the role of mentors in the academic performance of students with the university’s lecturers. It turned out that these contributions are hard to measure. You can call someone a pop star based on their popularity or the number of songs. But how do you discover superstars in education? One option is to collect words of gratitude that come from one heart to another,” adds Daria Khudyakova, a lead engineer at the Office of Educational Technologies. 

According to the project’s creators, ITMO Thanks will be an addition to the university’s education quality evaluation system, highlighting the best out of over 1,300 lecturers and 100 mentors at ITMO.

Left to right: Daria Khudyakova, Ekaterina Dzhavlakh, and Sabina Fakhrtdinova. Photo by Nikita Seliverstov, Angelina Malkiv / ITMO Mediaportal

Left to right: Daria Khudyakova, Ekaterina Dzhavlakh, and Sabina Fakhrtdinova. Photo by Nikita Seliverstov, Angelina Malkiv / ITMO Mediaportal

“Our idea transformed from a one-time event into an ongoing initiative. We hope that it will support other events, like the day of higher education professionals, ITMO’s birthday, as well as ITMO Edu Awards and ITMO.Love Awards. That’s why we are continuing to improve the website to make it convenient to say thank you from any device,” shared Sabina Fakhrtdinova, a teaching and learning specialist at ITMO’s Office of Educational Technologies.

You can read messages left by others or write your own at ITMO Thanks. And if you want to stay up-to-date on all things education and teaching practices, follow ITMO.Expert on VK and Telegram.