Leaders of educational innovations on the Planetarium dome

Do you know that the first maps in history were stellar maps but not terrain maps? When we just started to study the field of educational innovations, we could hardly imagine that this work would lead us to create the first in history “stellar” map of innovative leaders in education.

“The purpose of any map is to help to know one’s way around. We were developing our Map of Innovative Leaders in Education with this purpose in mind”, – recollects Jioulnar Asfari, executive director of Education Innovation Support Center. “Being an Education Innovation Support Center, it is important for us to understand how we can support the leaders of these innovations. But first of all, we should find them! We have chosen a tool (social graph building using a snowball sampling) it possible to map the area we needed. Soon, it became clear that the map had a meaning not only for us”.

An article about mapping (or cartography) on Wikipedia, in one of the projects (world innovative leaders in education) starts off by stating: “Cartography is the study and practice of making maps. Combining science, aesthetics, and technique, cartography builds on the premise that reality can be modeled in ways that communicate spatial information effectively. It is an essential part of the human life and of history. Starting with cave drawings, maps of ancient Babylon, Greece and Asia, throughout the Age of Discovery and to this day people have been creating maps and use them to identify the location and continue discovering the world”.

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We think that this is a full explanation of why we chose the map and why mapping became so important for many leaders we met when studying this field. During a half and a year, we interviewed more than 300 innovative leaders in education!

The interviews and gathered data resulted in the map which reminds of a neural network or the view of a megapolis from space … But most of all it reminds of a stellar map with many constellations and these constellations on our map are connections between the leaders who recommended others to us.

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It is therefore quite logical that we present our map to the professional community at the Moscow Planetarium. Here, on the starry sky on the 20th of April, the stars of educational innovations appeared. They also gathered in the hall under the dome of the Planetarium!

Andrei Andrusov, deputy executive director of SOL’, shares his impressions after the presentation: “The most powerful moment is when your eyes get accustomed to the bright light from the lamps and from the scene, you begin to see people. And you realize: here it is, our map! It is real! And you have this inexplicable feeling when right behind you is a two-dimensional map covering half of the dome and in front of you is its real visualization, the same map but in blood and flesh!”

Андрей на сцене Планетария

Our task was not only to map the area, not just to identify the connections between the leaders, not to record the status of the area of educational innovations by the year of 2016 – it is the time when we stopped collecting the data and started to analyze it – but we wanted to understand and to show the essence of our map. And, judging by the feedback, by your emotional involvement we can safely assume that we managed to do it!

Konstantin Moskalenko, IT Agency OSZ: “Dear, colleagues! What you are doing is great, important, interesting, and helps people to look at their profession, at their occupation differently, it gives people new impulses for business development and self-development. It is so good that many people managed to meet and to become personally acquainted with their colleagues whom they knew before only virtually”.
Maria Mirkes, The School of Antroponics: “The map of leaders in education on the dome of Planetarium. This idea is awesome by itself. The screen and the presentation of unbelievable size. My main discovery: I don’t know 50% of these people and projects but it seems they are really cool! And it;s a shame I don’t know them. It appears that education is not only what people whom I know do. Education is also in different places and spheres, it is in our heads … My vanity is hiding under a sofa :)”
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Maya Fedotova, project manager in SOL’, organizer of the presentation comments: “Each and every detail was important here. The planetarium – many people didn’t believe that the presentation was really going to take place at Planetarium until they came here; teenagers volunteering at the presentation – senior high school students and university students, they were listening attentively to Jioulnar and Andrei and were happy to see among the audience the leaders of projects who helped them with their studies … and the fact that the leaders of innovations finally met and saw each other …”.
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Diana Kolesnikova (The Way of Life), one of the youngest leaders on the map: “Thank you very much for what you are doing, for a spectacular and thoroughly thought presentation of the results. The 3 hours of presentation flew fast and I’m sure that everyone had a feeling that it was not enough, people wanted to talk more, to get acquainted with everyone, to share impressions, but it was time to leave … It is difficult to share really innovative ideas because you are alone and often your ideas are not understood or accepted. That is why such projects as this one are essential; they give the opportunity to be heard; this is an important source of self-confidence, this is warmth coming from like-minded people; this is motivation for self-improvement. Thank you!”

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All these feedbacks share one thing in common: the importance of this meeting for the development of the community. The presentation visited delegations from the regions (some leaders sent their video messages. For example, Aleksey Golubitskiy was speaking from the screen that in Kaliningrad region, one can see new construction advertising with a competitive advantage “The School of Future is near us”; educational project investors (Aleksandr Rudik, Ekaterina Rybakova, Sergei Solonin, Runeb Vardanyan); businessmen having their own educational projects (Yuriy Belonoschenko, Aleksandr Kostin, Maksim Spiridonov and others); government officials are in the minority but the fact that they are with us is already a sign of a positive dynamics. On our map we have Ekaterina Sibirtseva, head of Ekaterinburg district education board; heads of schools (Akhtam Tchugalaev, Mark Sartan, Grigoriy Peisakhovitch and others); people from budget , non-commercial and commercial segments; creators of projects for children and adults and, what is most important – representatives of all three levels of impact: oriented directly towards the students (teaching), those who train specialists working with students (methodology) and those who develop the projects of the second level (infrastructure).
Aleksei Maslov, project manager in SOL’: “We find it important that projects are intended to increase the impact on the society, to be open for a larger number of students through cooperation, sharing the best practices, co-directional movement to the common vision of the future. Only together and only relying on the values, we will be able to change the balance in the current system for the benefit of the society”.

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Lyudmila Saloid, (Psychological center Who am I): “I met new people from the educational sphere with whom I would gladly build productive partner relationships. I believe that when we are united, we are strong. It is easier and faster like that. There are so many interesting projects throughout Russia, it’s unbelievable! The organizers did a great job. I’m going to study all the materials in detail and get acquainted with the colleagues for a long time”.
The format of the presentation is an innovation by itself: easy-going, informal, for people and about people. We were telling the audience about themselves in the atmosphere of space in Urania hall at Planetarium. They could expand and enhance the network of connections not on the map but in reality. And they did not miss the chance.

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“The map for us is a tool which can help to arrange events efficient for developing innovations in education”, says Jioulnar Asfari. “The big step forward is that people could see they are not alone, there are connections between them! It was important for all of us to feel the community, though not evident and not named yet, but it exists and it means that we have points of support. I’m sure that such events enable our community to reinforce interaction and create new connections, take this process to a new level”

The map is a reflection of the pulsing reality of the community. To know what life the people on the map live, we asked them to write on the sticky notes what concerns them, what is their project about and stick the notes on the paper map in Urania hall. During an informal communication, we saw on our social graph the issues of scalability of practices and projects, investment attraction, team development, creation of a motivating environment (maintaining interest to the studies), development of network connections between educational institutes and business, measuring of educational results. Here are some other issues that concern the leaders:

  • importance of basic professional skills for entering technical institutions and colleges – it can dramatically change the quality of training IT-specialists and engineers;
  • transformation of a school into a social and cultural center;
  • bring together the best students and the best teachers;
  • create a center where innovations are an essential part of the life of children and their parents.

After the presentation, Jioulnar asked Aleksandr Adamsky (innovative educational network Eureka) what should be done with the Map which was there in Urania hall. He answered that it should be distributed everywhere, at pedagogical universities, as a real geographical map. He also mentioned that the World Map can be seen everywhere.
Aleksandr Isotovitch writes: “A fantastic project ‘The map of Innovative Leaders in Education’! Jioulnar Asfari and Andrei Andrusov made a breakthrough – this is a true reflection of the reality! On the background of a pseudoscientific mythology, it is like a breath of fresh air”.

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We listen to and respect your opinion, our dear Leaders! We are open to a dialogue and well aware of the importance of information distribution. Recently, we have presented the Map in Sochi during the meeting of top managers where the leaders of educational projects were also present. It should be noted that the importance of education is acknowledged by all the participants because many of them are parents! “We are planning to show this map to the students, especially of pedagogical universities, we want to fill our map with young specialists, we want to show them that pedagogics is not linear and education is many-sided. In June, we are flying to Florence to present the map at the Conference of innovations in education. We have been requested to present the map at Moscow State Pedagogical University and at the forum of innovations in education which is organized by the students who are studying or planning to study abroad …”, Jioulnar Asfari shares her plans.

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Our Map is already living its own life. And we believe that its life will be filled with the most interesting transformations. We fully understand that the method we used to create the Map is relevant not only for the educational sphere. People from other spheres request whether they can also use this method. We are ready to share our methodology so that you could launch the same processes in other spheres. We are sure that our mapped area will be developing fast, expanding and will be filled with new connections between educational projects and innovative leaders in education!

You can study the map in detail here (Russian ver.).

Zarina Asfari

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Let’s make the world better together!

P.S. We thank all the participants of the research, the team of organizers from the Planetarium and volunteers for their support and for the results we reached together.