February 11, 2016

Expanding Access to MOOCs in Ukraine

Oleksii Molchanovskyi is using his foreign exchange experience to bring education to the people of Ukraine. While Oleksii was on the Fulbright Faculty Development Program at the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2013-2014, the university started the first online master’s program in Computer Science in the United States. Inspired, Oleksii considered how to bring this technology to a Ukrainian-speaking audience so that he could share the power of open access to education. Within months of returning from his Fulbright Program, OIeksii and his team founded Prometheus, the first homegrown Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) platform in Ukraine. 
Within a year, Prometheus attracted more than 150,000 users in Ukraine and launched two dozen different online courses. With the recent conflict in eastern Ukraine, Oleksii’s work has become even more important now that a number of higher education institutions are operating in exile, with students, faculty, and administrators scattered in various places. Suddenly, the development of effective and user-friendly online and distance education platforms became a pressing issue for Ukrainian education, as tens of thousands seek to finish their educations despite their universities no longer having campuses or sufficient classrooms. Oleksii is at the forefront of this open education movement. 


Two men talking at a table with laptop computer sitting in front of man on left Oleksii (left) discussing his work with a colleague
“While being in Georgia Tech I was impressed by the level of that university, how everything was organized in means of study and research processes, how perfectly the campus was built. At that moment I realized that this might be the ideal place for study and science. But also I started to dream about the same quality university in my home country,” Oleksii said, following up by adding that was proud of “the Prometheus platform for Massive Open Online Courses where we work on giving the best and high quality education for all Ukrainians without any restrictions.”
Oleksii is dedicated to the future of Ukraine’s education sector. In addition to his massive amounts of volunteer work developing the Prometheus platform—truly a labor of love aimed at sharing the benefits of MOOCs with a Ukrainian audience—Oleksii has also actively worked to assist internally displaced youth. Estimates of the number displaced by the conflict in eastern Ukraine hover around 1.4 million, and many university students were among those who had to flee the violence. Oleksii is currently working on a project targeting freshman students from universities displaced from the eastern conflict. The project aims help students gain public speaking skills, encourage them to pursue social entrepreneurship, and instill in them the value of volunteerism. 
Oleksii is a member of the Ukrainian Fulbright Alumni Association, the Fulbright Circle. Last month he was invited to serve on the board of the Alumni Association and is a leader among younger alumni, bringing new energy to the Association’s activities. Oleksii has used his Fulbright connections to great effect by recruiting other alumni to develop online courses for Prometheus. With many if not most of Ukraine’s top academics having completed the Fulbright Program, Oleksii finds his active participation in alumni activities incredibly valuable in furthering his professional projects.