Institute of Education

Research & Expertise to Make a Difference in Education & Beyond

2019 Winner of the Innovations in Education Competition Announced

The 2019 Innovations in Education Competition, organized by HSE University’s Institute of Education and the Rybakov Foundation, received more than 600 project submissions. First prize went to a St. Petersburg-based team for a project that aims to combat bullying against hearing-impaired children. The winners received an internship grant valid in any country in the world courtesy of the Institute of Education.

Of the 600 project submissions, 24 advanced to the semifinals and took part in a week-long ‘accelerator’ summer school. 10 projects then advanced to the finals, which were held on October 21 at the VIII Moscow International Open Innovations Forum. A jury comprised of educational and business experts selected the best projects.

‘We want schools to be open, so that a network of paths and two-way roads can develop between schools and society,’ said Ekaterina Rybakova, President of the Rybakov Foundation. ‘Innovations that are developed beyond the classroom walls are important, but it is also important that these innovations do not stay outside of the classroom; it is important that every school has a place for these innovations, and that children learn to think innovatively. The Innovations in Education Competition plays an important role in achieving these aims. That is why we are seeing an increase in both the number of competition participants and the number of regions they represent. This means that new ideas in education are currently in demand and are becoming more so with each passing year.’


Isak Froumin

Head, Institute of Education

The hour-and-a-half-long final round of the competition was the high point of the yearlong work carried out by the young and dynamic group of the Educational Innovations Laboratory, headed by Diana Koroleva. At least half of the applications received for the competition this year were of interest even to the most discriminating eye. Each and every one of the ten projects that advanced to the final round deserved to win. Project teams included individuals who work in schools and universities as well as those who work outside of schools and universities. These are people invested in coming up with something new, introducing real change, and improving the education system.

The projects that advanced to the final round proposed a wide range of educational innovations, including a mobile app for studying genetics (proposed by a team from Vladivostok); a pedagogical methodology for schools in prisons (Krasnoyarsk Region); a set of traffic rule manuals for children with disabilities (Udmurt Republic); and ways to establish a conflict-free environment for teachers, students, and parents (Kazan). The winning project, created by a team from St. Petersburg, was a comic strip and online platform aimed at preventing the bullying of hearing-impaired children.

Winning project team members Alla Mallabiu and Zoya Boytseva are both graduates of the Herzen Russian State Pedagogical University (RSPU) and mothers of hearing-impaired children. Due to the lack of complex support available in Russia for families with hearing-impaired children, Alla and Zoya endeavored to create a support system themselves that would provide rehabilitation access, promote accessibility in communities, and support projects for sign language development. Since their organization, I Hear You, was founded five years ago, more than 5,000 children have received help.

The team entitled their project submission ‘Team S.L.U.Kh.’ (Slukh means ‘hearing’ in Russian, and, in English, the acronym stands for ‘Special League of Ultra-Guardians’). The project features a comic strip with three teenage protagonists: Ilya, Nikita, and Alyona. Ilya uses a cochlear implant (a prosthesis that compensates for hearing loss) and communicates using speech; Nikita speaks sign language; and Alyona does not have a hearing impairment but learned sign language for her deaf friend who is a programmer and with whom she creates an online game. The comic shows that impaired hearing does not lead to inferiority, but is rather a super-ability.

‘Thanks to the modern technology of hearing aids, more and more hearing-impaired children attend public schools, where they may face aggression from other students. The project’s ultimate goal is to prevent such aggression by showing that deaf children are just like everyone else in that they can communicate with others and overcome difficulties with their peers,’ says Alla Mallabiu.

The comic book comes with a sticker pack and a QR code that takes users to an online platform for learning the secret language of the superheroes. There are 100 videos with sign language translations of phrases used by children in everyday communication, such as ‘tablet’, ‘hamburger’, ‘let's go outside’, ‘let me copy from you’, and so on. Thus, each child sees that sign language is interesting, modern, interesting to learn, and easy to use.

500 copies of the comic book have already been distributed, and now the authors are going to expand the project. Inspired by the comics, a continuing education programme is being developed in collaboration with Herzen Rusian State Pedagogical Univesity to promote tolerance in public schools. A cartoon and a computer game based on the comics are also in the works.