Independent Studies Period – When Students Teach and Learn from Each Other

When Steve Jobs delivered a commencement address to Stanford graduates in 2005 the great guru of innovation explained why taking calligraphy classes as a young student had changed his life. It made the Macintosh computer’s beautiful typography possible. It made Apple possible. Jobs implored his listeners to follow their inner passions. “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards’, he said. “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

It seems that this message resonates well with Skoltech students, even if they have not heard the famous speech.

The most creative period of the academic year at Skoltech kicked off on January 12, as students ditched the textbooks (but not their laptops) to teach and learn from each other everything from Skateboarding through Brain-Computer Interface Design to Stock Trading.

A Skoltech student instructor at a Cooking and Science class during ISP (independent Studies Period)

A Skoltech student instructor at a Cooking and Science class during ISP (independent Studies Period)

Dubbed Independent Studies Period (or ISP), it is a unique Skoltech term running through most of January. It is designed to add an extra dimension to the curriculum,  a time when students gain new skills, tackle novel ideas and build their own community. To this end ISP activities are distinguished by their range and innovative spirit.

Students take part in a series of courses that range from the career-boosting – “Elevator pitches in extreme conditions” and “Real entrepreneurship and smart investing” – to simple hobbies – cooking and science, theater, dance and debate.

Students are also invited to dive into Lego robotics, video production, volleyball, 3D printing, C++ programming, or even fly a Cessna 172 plane.

Skoltech is a private graduate research institution that is a central component of the Skolkovo innovations ecosystem. It educates global leaders in innovation, advances scientific knowledge, and fosters new technologies to address critical issues facing Russia and the world. Applying international research and educational models, the university integrates the best Russian scientific traditions with twenty-first century entrepreneurship and innovation.

The university’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) estimates that 60 percent of all graduate students are actively involved in startup projects or have established their own company.

Skoltech students attending a workshop during ISP (independent Studies Period).

Skoltech students attending a workshop during ISP (independent Studies Period).

At the FPGA programming class, taught by students.

At the FPGA programming class, taught by students.

Skoltech students attending a Video Production and Visual Storytelling ISP class, taught by volunteer media professionals.

Skoltech students attending a Video Production and Visual Storytelling ISP class, taught by volunteer media professionals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

students on a journey through astronomy.  Image courtesy of So Punyapat.

Space student Veronika Shteyngardt takes her fellow students on a journey through astronomy.
Image courtesy of So Punyapat.

Is lemonade supposed to bubble like this? Independent Studies Period at Skoltech continues until the end of January.

Is lemonade supposed to bubble that much? Independent Studies Period at Skoltech continues until the end of January.

Russian and American students work together on robotics' projects in Moscow. In this case - a collaboration between students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), MISIS and Skoltech.

Russian and American students work together on robotics’ projects in Moscow. In this case – a collaboration between students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), MISIS and Skoltech.

 

 

Some ISP activities involve experts and professionals from outside of Skoltech. In this photo, a National Instruments engineer teaches at a masterclass on "Prototyping of Software Defined Radio Systems".

Some ISP activities involve experts and professionals from outside of Skoltech. In this photo, a National Instruments engineer teaches at a masterclass on “Prototyping of Software Defined Radio Systems”.

 

Snowboarding course at Moscow's Nagornaya Ski Club

Snowboarding course  taught by students at Moscow’s Nagornaya Ski Club

 

 

Skoltech students and brothers Bogdan and Artur Uzbekov demonstrate sound recording as part of the Music Production course. Photos courtesy of course instructor Brendan Smith

Skoltech students and brothers Bogdan and Artur Uzbekov demonstrate sound recording as part of the Music Production course. Photos courtesy of course instructor Brendan Smith

 

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