Russian laws and other regulatory legal acts (e.g. the 2012 Federal Law On Education in the Russian Federation No. 273-FZ; the 2020 Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 1490 "On Licensing Educational Activities"; the 2017 Order of the Ministry of Education and Science of Russia No. 816 "On Approval of the Procedure for the Use by Organizations Engaged in Educational Activities, E-learning, Distance Learning Technologies in the Implementation of Educational Programs"; Federal State Educational Standards and so on) use the following terms related to technologies in education: e-learning, distance educational technologies, electronic information and educational environment, electronic information resources and electronic educational resources.
Despite the mention of certain terms, laws and other regulatory legal acts do not always define them.
The 2012 Federal Law On Education in the Russian Federation No. 273-FZ (hereinafter referred to as The Law On Education (2012) defines e-learning as educational activities organization using information contained in databases and used in the implementation of educational programs and information technologies, technical means that ensure its processing, as well as information and telecommunication networks that ensure the specified information transmission over communication lines, the students and teachers interaction. This law also defines distance educational technologies as educational technologies implemented mainly with the information and telecommunication networks use with indirect (at a distance) interaction between students and teachers. It also defines electronic information and educational environment as a set of electronic information resources, electronic educational resources, a set of information technologies, telecommunication technologies, relevant technological means and ensuring the educational programs development by students in full, regardless of the student's location.
Policy planning documents in education (e.g. the 2020 Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 2040 "On Conducting an Experiment on the Introduction of a Digital Educational Environment"; 2017 Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 1642 "On approval of the state program of the Russian Federation "Development of education"; 2019 Decree of the Ministry of Education of Russia No. R-145 "On the mentoring students methodology (target model) approval for organizations engaged in educational activities in general education, additional general education and secondary vocational education programs, including using best practices for the experience between students exchange") also use such terms as: digital learning environment, digital educational content, educational services, massive open educational resources, and cyberbullying, etc.
Despite the mention of certain terms, policy planning documents do not always define them.
The 2020 Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 2040 "On Conducting an Experiment on the Introduction of a Digital Educational Environment" defines digital learning environment as a set of conditions for the implementation of educational programs of primary general, basic general and secondary general education using e-learning, distance learning technologies, taking into account the electronic information and educational environment functioning, including electronic information and educational resources and services, digital educational content, information and telecommunication technologies, technological means and ensuring the educational programs development by students in full, regardless of their residence place.
2019 Decree of the Ministry of Education of Russia No. R-145 "On the mentoring students’ methodology (target model) approval for organisations engaged in educational activities in general education, additional general education and secondary vocational education programs, including using best practices for the experience between students exchange" defines cyberbullying as a form of bullying in social networks. While bullying per se, according to this document is the manifestation of aggression, including physical violence, and humiliation against a educational organisation student by other students and/or teachers.
Constitution and laws: The 1993 Constitution of the Russian Federation designates privacy, personal and family secrets, one's honour and good name protection, privacy of correspondence, telephone conversations, postal, telegraphic and other communications as an inalienable human right (Article 23), and also prohibits the collection, storage, use and distribution information about the private life of a person without his or her consent (Article 24). It also recognizes the right to education for everyone. In addition, guarantees are established for the general availability and free of charge of preschool, basic general and secondary vocational education in state or municipal educational institutions and enterprises, as well as the everyone right to receive higher education free of charge on a competitive basis in a state or municipal educational institution and at an enterprise (Article 43).
Digital transformation is one of the goals of Russia’s national development for the period up to 2030, established by the 2020 Decree of the President of the Russian Federation No. 474.
Policies, plans and strategies: The key document to determine the policy and strategy roadmap in the field of education is the State Programme on Education Development approved by the 2017 Decree of the Russian Government No. 1642.. According to this programme, introducing the principles of digitalisation in the education process is one of the key tools for public administration and ensuring national security. This implies transferring services into electronic form, developing various digital tools and services and creating conditions for their use in educational institutions, as well as providing advanced teachers’ training in digital technologies and artificial intelligence. The programme also highlights the necessity of achieving the nation-level goal of "digital transformation". This target requires for digital transformation of the education system and provision of online services to educational organisations implementing programmes of general, vocational and higher education.
It should be noted that introducing and developing digital technology in Russian education is only one element of the national policy for the digitalisation of public administration and national economy. Several programmes and strategic documents focus on the introduction of modern technology in education, on digital transformation of services of educational organisations and their management, in one form or another. These programmes and strategic documents include: The Information Society State Programme, approved by the 2014 Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 313; The Strategy for the Science and Higher Education Branch Digital Transformation, approved by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation; 2021 Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 3759-r "On approval of the strategic direction in the field of science and higher education digital transformation".
For example, the Information Society State Programme, approved by the 2014 Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 313sets the goal of reaching 100 per cent digital maturity level by 2030 for the key sectors of economy and social sphere, including healthcare and education, as well as public administration. The programme is also intended to provide citizens with equal opportunities through Internet access to high-quality educational and cultural content.
Digital competency frameworks: Policy and programme documents do not provide any specific framework of digital competencies, however, examples of digital competency lists are given in the four following documents mentioned in this profile:
1) The Methodology for Calculating the Indicator of the Federal Project "Personnel for the Digital Economy" of the National Program "Digital Economy of the Russian Federation" approved by 2020 Rosstat Order No. 64;
2) List of Key Digital Economy Competencies (Appendix No. 1 to the Methods for Calculating the Indicators of the Federal Project "Personnel for the Digital Economy" of the National Program "Digital Economy of the Russian Federation" approved in 2020 by order of the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia No. 41 (no longer valid) ;
3) The Concept for the Implementation of the Event "Implementation of Additional Education Programs for Various Population Groups in order to Develop the Digital Economy Competencies (Appendix No. 1 to 2022 to the Protocol of the Presidium of the Government Commission on Digital Development, the Use of Information Technologies to Improve the Quality of Life and the Conditions for Doing Business No. 13) ;
4) The Information Society State Programme, approved by the 2014 Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 313.
Changes occurred as a result of COVID-19: The COVID-19 pandemic has not brought significant changes to education policy documents or legislation.
2.2.1. Technology infrastructure and digital capacity of schools
Electricity: Article 6 of the Federal Law No. 35 of 2003 on Electric Power Sector (2021 Ed.) aims at “ensuring uninterrupted and reliable functioning of the electric power industry for the purposes of meeting the demand for electric power of customers that ensure proper performance of their obligations to electric power industry entities”. It also aims at ensuring the provision of non-discriminatory and stable conditions for conducting activities in the sphere of the electric power industry.
According to Art. 9 of the Law on Education (2012), local governments’ mandate includes ensuring the maintenance of municipal educational organisations’ buildings and the arrangement of the adjacent territories. Thus, the primary responsibility for providing an educational organisation with access to electricity and the Internet rests on its founder, although a certain share of responsibility might be assigned to the educational organisation itself. The issue of electricity accessibility for educational organisations is not mentioned in legislative and strategic documents, since this problem has already been solved and there is hardly any settlement where there is a school, but no electricity.
Computers and devices: According to Article 35 of the Law on Education (2012) students who master basic educational programs at the expense of the budget within the limits of federal state educational standards by organisations engaged in educational activities are provided free of charge for use for the period of education, textbooks and teaching aids, as well as educational and methodological materials, training and education tools. Training and education tools include the equipment necessary for access to education, including personal computers, laptops, etc. If personal computer (laptop) is necessary for learning (for example, at home during COVID-19), then the school is obliged to provide it during temporary use.
Internet connectivity: Providing Russian educational organisations with access to broadband Internet is an integral part of the Information Society State Programme. This programme regards educational organisations are regarded as socially significant objects providing socially significant services. The Programme outlines the following tasks: Developing communication infrastructure to provide broadband Internet access for households in sparsely populated, remote, and hard-to-reach settlements; Creating satellite communications to provide broadband Internet access in remote and hard-to-reach settlements.
There are also programmes aimed at the development of individual remote territories. Thus, the National Programme for Socioeconomic Development of the Far East for the period up to 2024 and for the next 15 years was approved by the 2020 Order of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 2464-r. This programme is expected to result in providing all remote settlements in the Far East with access to high-speed Internet, telemedicine services and distance education.
2.2.2. Technology and learning environments
The Law on Education (2012) and by-laws adopted on its basis have created a regulatory framework for distance education and for official recognition of its results.
For example, the Order for the Use by Organizations Engaged in Educational Activities of E-learning, Distance Learning Technologies in the Implementation of Educational Programs, approved in 2017 by order of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation No. 816, establishes general requirements for the use of these technologies.
The Order for offsetting by an organisation engaged in educational activities, the results of mastering by students of academic subjects, courses, disciplines (modules), practice, additional educational programs in other organisations engaged in educational activities, approved in 2020 by order of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation No. 845 and the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation No. 369 creates conditions for the offset by the educational organisation of the results of mastering courses by students in other educational organizations, as well as MOOC.
The state policy in this field is primarily aimed at increasing the number of Russian MOOCs, as well as the number of people mastering them.
The only technology mentioned in legislative and policy documents is online courses. Thus, the key goal of the Priority Project "Modern Digital Educational Environment in the Russian Federation" as indicated in the project document (in Russian: Паспорт проекта) is to develop a Russian digital educational space and increase the number of students having completed online courses up to 11 million people by the end of 2025.
The COVID-19 pandemic has not brought significant changes to regulation or government policy in education, since all laws and by-laws necessary for distance education were adopted before the pandemic. The most significant change brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic is the addition of Art. 108 of the Law on Education (2012) with the provision that in the event of a threat of occurrence and (or) the occurrence of emergencies, the introduction of a high alert regime or an emergency situation throughout the territory of the Russian Federation or in part of it, the implementation of educational programs, as well as the conduct of the professional educational programs state final certification, is carried out using e-learning, distance learning technologies, regardless of the restrictions provided for in federal state educational standards or in the list of professions, areas of training, specialties, the implementation of educational programs for which is not allowed using exclusively distance learning technologies, if the implementation of these educational programs and carrying out the state final certification without the use of these technologies and the postponement of training is impossible.
The Concept of Implementation of Additional Education Programmes for Various Population Groups to Develop Digital Economy Competencies within the federal project “Human Resources for the Digital Economy” under the Russian Federation Digital Economy National Programme aims to provide training in modern programming languages for children aged 14 and above as a supplement to their basic training in mathematics and computer science at school to increase their digital competence level and motivation to continue education and get an in-demand IT job.
The key documents to define the digital competencies framework for students are the Federal State Educational Standards establishing the requirements for the knowledge and skills students should master within the educational programme. The educational standards for preschool and primary general education do not provide for the development of digital competencies.
The Federal State Educational Standard for Basic General Education provides for the digital competencies’ formation within the "Informatics" course. This standard indicates a set of digital skills students should master, including: the ability to create and debug programmes in one of programming languages (Python, C++, Pascal, Java, C#) that implement simple numerical data processing algorithms; the ability to use information and communication technologies skills for searching, storing, processing, transmitting, and analysing various types of information; and; the ability to use various protection means against malicious software, the ability to ensure personal security when using Internet resources.
The Federal State Educational Standard for Secondary General Education expects the students to expand and deepen these competencies. Digital competencies to be mastered at this level include: acquiring standard methods of writing programmes in an algorithmic language for solving a standard problem; using ready-made applied computer programmes for the chosen specialization; acquiring computer tools for data presentation and analysis.
Examples of digital competency lists are given in the four following documents:
The Methodology for Calculating the Indicator of the Federal Project "Personnel for the Digital Economy" of the National Program "Digital Economy of the Russian Federation" approved by 2020 Rosstat Order No. 64 includes the following digital competencies: 1) Communication skills: sending/receiving e-mail; phone calls or video conversations over the Internet; communication via messengers; participation in social, professional networks; participation in forums; blogging; 2) Learning skills using digital tools: distance learning; search for information about education, training courses, trainings and the like on the Internet; obtaining knowledge on any topic using Wikipedia, online encyclopedias or other similar source of information; downloading or reading online newspapers or magazines, e-books; searching for information about cultural heritage sites and cultural events, taking virtual tours of museums and galleries, and the like; 3) Software skills: working with a text editor, spreadsheets, presentations, programs for editing photo, video and audio files; writing of software using programming languages; 4) Information and data management skills: copying or moving a file/folder; search for information (about goods and services, healthcare, vacancies, housing, etc.) on the Internet; use the Internet services for storing documents, images, music, videos and other files; uploading personal files (books/articles/magazines, photos, music, videos, programs and other content) to any sites, social networks for public access; 5) Digital problem solving skills: connecting and installing new devices; file transfer between computer and peripherals; search, download, installation and configuration of software; installing a new or reinstalling an operating system; purchase / sale of goods or services via the Internet; banking operations on the Internet.
The List of Key Digital Economy Competencies (Appendix No. 1 to the Methods for Calculating the Indicators of the Federal Project "Personnel for the Digital Economy" of the National Program "Digital Economy of the Russian Federation" approved in 2020 by order of the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia No. 41 (no longer valid) contains following competencies: Communication and cooperation in the digital environment; Self-development in conditions of uncertainty; Creative thinking; Information and data management; and Critical thinking in the digital environment.
The Concept for the Implementation of the Event "Implementation of Additional Education Programs for Various Population Groups in order to Develop the Digital Economy Competencies (Appendix No. 1 to 2022 to the Protocol of the Presidium of the Government Commission on Digital Development, the Use of Information Technologies to Improve the Quality of Life and the Conditions for Doing Business No. 13) contains the following list of digital competency areas: Big data; Internet of things; Artificial intelligence; Quantum technologies; Cyber security and data protection; Neurotechnology, virtual and augmented reality; New and portable energy sources; New manufacturing technologies; Programming and creating IT products; Industrial design and 3D modeling; Industrial Internet; Development of computer games and multimedia applications; Development of mobile applications; Distributed and cloud computing; Sensors and robotics components; System administration; Distributed ledger systems; Wireless technologies; Technologies for controlling the properties of biological objects; Data-driven governance; Digital transformation management; Digital design, Digital marketing and media; and Electronics and radio engineering.
Even though the abbreviation STEM is often used in the field of education, it can hardly be found in laws, strategies, and policy documents. One of the few examples is the project document of the federal project "Human Resources for the Digital Economy". Referring to the challenges the education system is facing, this document mentions that in the coming years, three-quarters of all vacancies in the field of STEM (natural and computer sciences, technology, mathematics) will be accounted for the digital economy.
According to Art. 46 of the Law on Education (2012) in order to engage in pedagogical activities, a person should have a college or university degree and meet the qualification requirements specified in job evaluation manuals and (or) professional standards. Requirements for teachers’ skills are also mapped out in such documents. The Qualification Profile for Educators does not require teachers to possess digital competencies. In the Educational Standard for Teacher Education (Bachelor's Degree) also does not provide for the future teachers training in any specific ICT competencies, but indicates the need to be able to use them in general (see below).
Russia does not have an unified state policy aimed at developing teachers’ digital skills and enshrined in laws, strategies, etc. The educational organisation determines independently the need to train their employee (teachers) in any digital, information and communication competencies.
The Occupational Standard for Teachers (performing teaching activities in the field of general education) was approved by the 2013 Order of the Ministry of Labor of Russia No. 544n. Among the necessary skills for a teacher this standard lists: general user ICT competency, teacher’s general ICT competency, and ICT competency in specific subject areas (reflecting professional ICT competency in the relevant human activity field). However, no detailed explanation is given for these competencies.
The same as for students, the list of skills to be mastered by future teachers in Russia is determined by the relevant Federal State Educational Standards. However, digital competencies are not mentioned in the Educational Standard for Teacher Education (Bachelor's Degree). This standard provides only that the graduate must be able to: develop individual components of educational programs (including using information and communication technologies); and understand the modern information technologies operation principles and use them to solve the professional activity problems. Neither do strategies and plans for the education sector contain a full list of digital skills teachers should possess.
Finally, beyond teachers, the Information Society State Programme, approved by the 2014 Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 313 as tasks of public administration in the area under consideration mentions the following competences: Ensuring accessibility for the population of training in additional education programs to obtain new digital competencies that are in demand on the labor market; and Meeting the labor market needs in specialists in the field of information technology and information security, as well as in specialists with digital competencies who have been trained in the relevant programs of higher and secondary vocational education. The Strategy for the Science and Higher Education Branch Digital Transformation, approved by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation as one of the areas of science and higher education digital transformation also provides for the formation of digital competencies that allow employees to maximize the potential of modern technologies.
2.4.1. Data privacy
There are no special laws or policies aimed at protecting personal data in the educational process using modern technologies. The main law ensuring the protection of personal data in Russia is the 2006 Federal Law On Personal Data No. 152-FZ. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought no specific changes to the legislation to enhance personal data protection. As a rule, laws and by-laws on education do not contain provisions on personal data protection. Neither are there any programmes and strategies focused on the issue.
2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying
Although policy documents and strategies do refer to online abuse and cyberbullying, these terms are mainly used only to state that such a problem exists and that these phenomena need to be combated. No clear action plan is proposed in this regard, and only separate isolated measures are envisaged.
Thus, the Concept for the Development of a System for the Prevention of Neglect and Juvenile Delinquency for the period up to 2025, approved by the 2017 Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 520-r states that special attention should be paid to such antisocial actions as intimidation, bullying of a child by classmates, dissemination of false, defamatory information on a child in social networks, which are often perceived as a norm not only by the offenders but even by the victims. The Action Plan for this Concept’s implementation instructs federal authorities to develop information and methodological materials for educational organisations on bullying prevention by the end of 2022 (ibid).
The Plan of the Main Activities Carried out within the Framework of the Childhood Decade for the period until 2027, approved by the 2021 Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 122-r, provides for ensuring actions to prevent bullying and cyberbullying and for teaching the basics of Internet safety.
According to the Law on Education (2012), educational organisations have the right to use e-learning, distance learning technologies in the implementation of educational programmes in the manner determined by the Government of the Russian Federation.
Prior to 2021, the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation was authorised to make decisions on that issue. The existing Procedure for the Use of e-Learning and Distance Learning Technologies in the Implementation of Educational Programmes by Organisations Engaged in Educational Activities, approved by the 2017 Order of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation No. 816, is valid until September 1, 2023.
In addition, the Law on Education (2012) contains a restriction on the use of these technologies. It prohibits training in a number programmes of secondary vocational and higher education based solely on e-learning and distance learning technologies. The corresponding lists of professions, fields of study and areas of training, depending on the type of education, are approved by the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation, respectively (The Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation performed its functions until mid-2018, when it was divided into two separate agencies – the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science).
At the federal level, several Russian ministries tackle the issue of technologies in education. However, they are not authorised to introduce or control the use of modern education technologies, including digital ones. These bodies maintain information systems that provide public administration in the field of education and ensure the provision of a certain set of public e-services.
The Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media of the Russian Federation is a specialised executive body to ensure the elaboration and implementation of state policy and legal regulation in the field of information technology. In addition, this ministry is responsible for implementing state policy in the field of development and support of Russian electronic products and software, as well as in the field of protecting children from information that is harmful to their health and (or) development. The ministry is also authorised to establish requirements for the security of information systems, including personal data information systems, to establish a procedure for conducting examination of information products ensuring children information security.
Federal education authorities are not assigned with any specific functions in the area of digitalisation either. However, the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation, for example, establishes the procedure for shaping a federal list of electronic educational resources to be used in government-approved general education programmes. In addition, this ministry approves a list of such resources, and examines teaching and learning materials they contain.
The Federal Service for Supervision of Education and Science has the power to exercise control over compliance of some educational organisations’ activities with the legislation of the Russian Federation on protecting children from information harmful to their health and (or) development.
Another specialised agency working in the field of education is the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation. However, it is not entitled to manage the development of technologies in education. Although it has a Digital Development Department, its activities are aimed at digital transformation and digitalisation of the ministry itself, but not the entire higher education system.
The Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation also contributes to managing modern technologies use in education through regulating the issues of students’ health protection and preservation when using such technologies.
The Commission on Scientific and Technological Development of the Russian Federation under the Russian Government was established to coordinate the elaboration and implementation of state scientific and technical policy and, in fact, does not affect the educational process.
The Council on Digital Transformation under the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation has the following tasks: to formulate and discuss with experts proposals on the main directions of digital transformation and digital learning environment development; and to consider the results of federal projects and departmental target programmes’ implementation in terms of digital transformation and digital learning environment development. This Council consists mainly of representatives of the ministry. Although it might include also representatives of scientific and educational organisations and other stakeholders, it focuses only on coordinating the activities of the ministry’s departments.
In Russia, there are two aspects of the schools’ contribution to digital technologies use: a) promoting the use of various devices in the educational process, and b) opposing students in using mobile phones and other means of communication in the classroom, as they either distract students from learning or are used for academic misconduct (cheating or obtaining background information during exams, etc.).
The Law on Education (2012) states that educational organisations are free to determine the content of education and to choose teaching and learning materials and educational technologies for the educational programmes they implement. It’s up to the school to decide whether to use certain devices in the educational process or not (provided that such devices are safe for students). If the school decides to use specific equipment, it has to provide devices to all students at its own expense.
Although the educational organisation is responsible for the use of modern equipment in the educational process, as well as for providing students with this equipment, there exist certain programmes aimed at co-financing the costs of acquiring the equipment, consumables, training, and education tools to provide educational organisations with facilities and resources for developing a digital learning environment.
Thus, the Education Development State Programme provides for the allocation of subsidies from the federal budget to the budgets of Russia’s constituent entities for purchasing equipment, consumables and training aids within the framework of state support for educational organisations in order to equip (upgrade) them with computer, multimedia, presentation equipment and software in line with a pilot project on modernising general education. This programme also provides for several measures to bridge the digital divide through allocating additional subsidies for purchasing such equipment to organisations that teach disabled people or located in rural areas and small towns.
There are no programmes or strategies aimed at increasing the use of any devices in the educational process or imposing any specific responsibility on schools for this.
When it comes to preventing students from using mobile phones and other communication means in the classroom, most limitations refer to the procedure unified state exams. An attempt to use a mobile phone or other prohibited equipment during the examination might result in removal from the exam, cancellation of its results and even in administrative liability.