How Kharkiv’s IT Companies Shape The Local IT Education System

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Following in the footsteps of the world’s best educational institutions, Kharkiv's technical universities are teaming up with local companies to overcome a notable disconnect between higher IT education and the needs of the labor market.

Kharkiv‘s universities are now transitioning to a competency-based model of technical education. Local IT firms, which are potential employers of university graduates, directly participate in the curriculum preparation and sometimes act as educators too.

MASTIS, an EU-funded international education project aimed at Master students in IT, is one of the initiatives transforming IT education in the city. The program involves two forward-thinking Kharkiv universities — Simon Kuznets Kharkiv National University of Economics and National Technical University “Kharkiv Polytechnic Institute” — and a number of local IT companies, some of which are members of the Kharkiv IT Cluster. The latter is a regional non-governmental organization that unites domestic and international IT companies located in the city.

“The main idea of the project has been to engage local IT businesses in the development of the curriculum as well as to invite them to become mentors to the Master students. The pilot program is expected to launch in September 2018,” said Prof. Iryna Zolotaryova of Simon Kuznets Kharkiv National University of Economics.

Kharkiv Is The Second Largest IT Hub In Ukraine

When it comes to IT education, Kharkiv offers a range of excellent opportunities. It is the leading Ukrainian city by the number of educational institutions specializing in the field of IT, with four of them listed among Ukraine’s top 15 technical universities for the best IT education in the country.

Every year more than 2,000 young IT specialists graduate from Kharkiv universities to serve clients worldwide. Local IT professionals who are now in their prime are helping to educate the next generation of developers. They support educational initiatives for students and schoolchildren and even contribute to the curriculum.

Grassroots EdTech Initiatives thrive At Kharkiv Schools

In cooperation with his students, Nikolai Arzubov, a school teacher of programming at one of the local schools, has developed an online platform to teach programming to children in the region. Dubbed “DOTS,” it can be accessed for free by any Kharkiv-based teacher. The platform was created a year ago as a logical continuation of Arzubov’s offline “Accessible programming” initiative, which was launched back in 2013. Two years ago, “Accessible programming” was picked up and popularized by Kharkiv IT cluster. Nicknamed “Kids2IT,” it aims to educate schoolchildren and school teachers in the field of IT, both online and offline.

Both “Accessible programming” and “DOTS” have their roots in a scientific community for young people called Q-BIT. It was launched back in 2006 by Nikolai Arzubov to create an offline platform for talented youth to share experience and cooperate in a variety of scientific and engineering projects, including programming.

Kharkiv “open championship in programming” is another one of Arzubov’s initiatives. Launched in 2007, this annual contest is one of the largest programming competitions in Ukraine. The inclusion in the tasks of such popular characters as Sherlock Holmes and Harry Potter added an extra bit of fun to the championship.

Today, the graduates and participants of these initiatives work for such tech companies as Facebook, Amazon, Google and Looksery, to name a few. In 2015 the latter was acquired by Snapchat for $150 million in the biggest deal in the Ukrainian tech industry’s history.

How Kharkiv Developers Build World-Class EdTech Products

Technology continues to disrupt traditional forms of education and create new learning experiences in more and more countries across the globe. Kharkiv software developers leverage their expertise to make learning more rewarding and efficient both in Ukraine and abroad.

The first of them is Raccoon Gang, a developer specializing in building e-learning solutions based on the Open edX platform. The company has built a custom learning management system for the University of California, Los Angeles, one of the world’s top 25 universities. Among its other international clients are the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, edX, Applied Materials, Labster, and even tech giant Microsoft.

In its home country, the Raccoon Gang supports a number of online education and blended-learning initiatives, including BrainBasket Foundation, a Ukrainian NGO which aims to train 100,000 new IT professionals by 2020, and Prometheus, the biggest MOOC-provider in Ukraine and a major player in neighboring countries.

The developer has recently been involved with several innovative projects in the field of adaptive learning, as well as creating a chatbot for online learning management. All in all, more than 700,000 students worldwide learn using the platforms created by Raccoon Gang.

CodeIT is another developer located in Kharkiv, providing their services in the field of EdTech to clients worldwide. Among their projects is a free app which allows students to improve their performance in college and after graduation. It is currently used by a US company specializing in adaptive coaching programs. For another one of its clients, Tofig Gasanov, an entrepreneur from Azerbaijan, the company has developed two educational platforms — and — aimed at students preparing for university examinations.

To build the platforms, Gasanov was looking for “a team that had expertise in system architecture, UX design and security” and chose CodeIT “due to their good communication skills, high responsiveness, and flexibility.”

“We have been reported in various media and students are starting to recognize the benefits of online education, although many still don’t trust online education as much as we’d like. Our main focus now is to reduce the psychological barrier that students and their parents have towards online education,” he adds.

Another of CodeIT’s projects has been designed for kids aged 3-9 to practice reading skills. This multi-level cross-platform iOS and Android application has been developed for Red Apple Reading, a US online reading program which provides “a fun and effective alternative to the traditional methods of teaching reading.”

Last but not least, TopTechPhoto, a Kharkiv-based software development company with a strong focus on imaging, cloud, and collaboration, has a wide experience of providing cutting-edge solutions for EdTech projects. Its flagship product, a SaaS system that allows people to manage media assets in the cloud and businesses to use Google Drive as their Digital Asset Management and Version Control system, is being successfully used by a number of North American colleges and universities, including Connecticut College.

What contributes to the success of Kharkiv developers? They live in the IT hub of the country with a strong, centuries-long tradition of technical education and entrepreneurship.

We are living in a time where technology is rapidly transforming what we know as traditional education, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Gaining a good IT education is a priority for more people than ever before, and technological solutions which enhance learning are constantly increasing in demand. Kharkiv developers have the necessary expertise and experience to satisfy this growing hunger for high-quality EdTech products worldwide.



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