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Philosophical Thought

Methodological Aspects of the Process of Digitization of the Education System in the XXI Century

Dianov Sergei Aleksandrovich

Doctor of History

Professor, Department of Public Administration and History, Perm National Research Polytechnic University; Professor, Department of Private Law, Perm Institute of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia

614990, Russia, Perm Krai, Perm, Komsomolsky Prospekt str., 29

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Lesevitskii Aleksei Vladimirovich

Teacher, Perm branch of the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation

614077, Russia, Perm Krai, Perm, Gagarina str., 50






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Abstract: The author discusses methodological aspects of digitalization of the education system in Russia. The author's research team focuses on the philosophical-anthropological and socio-pedagogical dimensions of the studied phenomenon of the XXI century. It is shown that in the field of education, the first steps towards digital literacy of all participants in educational relations were made back in the late 1990s. During this period, this process was called "informatization" of the educational environment of educational institutions. The transition to the introduction of a wide range of information and computer technologies into the pedagogical process took place during the implementation of the first national project "Education" (2005-2010). In the 2010s, big data analytics, the all-encompassing use of artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, testing the possibilities of virtual and augmented reality, the use of 3-D printing in teaching – these and other new technologies allowed us to move to a new stage in the development of the Russian education sector. The formation of the educational environment in the context of digital transformation encourages understanding of the prospects and significant risks that the digitization process brings to the consumer society. The use of philosophical and anthropological analysis allowed the authors to identify the following risks: the risk of the formation of an individual with a "one-dimensional consciousness" in the educational environment, the tendency of the destruction of the ideological matrix of personality under the influence of digitisation, the risk of destructive transformation of the role of the teacher with the subsequent replacement of the latter with "gadgets" and software shells with "artificial intelligence", the risk of dictate from the "technocrats-developers" of educational content, the risk of worsening the health of students due to the adverse effects of digital technologies.


philosophy of education, education system, digitization, informatization, philosophical and anthropological approach, humanistic pedagogy, educational environment, digital learning, educational technologies, professional communities

This article is automatically translated. You can find original text of the article here.

IntroductionModern society is going through an important stage of the global change of the scientific and technological way of life.

Fundamental changes have affected most countries of anthropogenic civilization, affected all aspects of human existence: the socio-economic sphere, the political macrocosm, socio-cultural processes, and led to the emergence of a new paradigm of the education system. Note that such dialectical development has an objectively total and irrevocable character: it is impossible to stop the process of changing the educational paradigm. On the other hand, professional communities have all the tools to influence changing scenarios of civilizational development, consistently eliminating emerging contradictions. It is well known that many major social philosophers and futurologists, economists and political scientists have been engaged in designing and creating a theoretical model of the transition to the digital economy. Among them are E. Toffler [1], F. Fukuyama [2], J. Galbraith [3], K. Schwab [4] and others. At the time when E. Toffler in his monograph "The Shock of the Future" described the poorly verbalized contours of the future digital economy, many of the theses formulated by him seemed fantastic. In the XXI century, the rapid rhythms of the digitalization process allowed a different attitude to the forecasts of an outstanding researcher. Today, the education system plays a decisive role in the transition of consumer society to a new technological order, the creation of a global network infrastructure and a highly efficient digital economy. It seems logical to characterize the positive and negative features of the digitalization process, which somehow determine the behavior of participants in educational relations.   The main part             


At the level of the universal civilizational development of the economy and social sphere, the following trends of the new technological order 4.0 can be identified and characterized.

1. Big data analytics. It is necessary to state a fundamental change in the information segment of human civilization, which makes it possible to consolidate huge amounts of information, store and transmit them at high speed from one counterparty to another, generalize and systematize, create information classification bases and dynamic series. Modern supercomputers are capable of processing huge amounts of data in a very short time. "If in 2018 the entire volume of digital information stored by mankind was equal to a little more than 20 zettabytes, then by 2025 it will grow more than 8 times and reach the figure of 160 zettabytes," V.A. Maltsev noted in 2019 [5, p. 32]. The use of big data analytics has already changed the daily lives of representatives of professional communities. Connecting to a digital network of physical objects creates a new comfortable environment, one of the key elements of which is the person who controls this world. The transformation of the educational space on this basis opens up broad prospects for the field of education. A person, changing his environment of existence, transforms with it. The level of his information and communication competencies is significantly increased. A study room or laboratory with the help of the Internet of Things is already being transformed into a productive multifunctional node. "Smart home" can not only satisfy household needs, but also contribute to solving educational problems. Both an adult student of the additional professional education program and a minor college student, armed with gadgets and other technical innovations, have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the amazing world of knowledge. With one touch of the hand, the student gets access to the services of national libraries (RSL, RNB, etc.), scientific and educational centers, virtual museums of industrial enterprises. The processes of obtaining, converting and exchanging information are significantly accelerated. At the same time, of course, the methodological aspect is also important. We should not forget that any functional component should be competently integrated into the educational process.

2. Development of artificial intelligence (AI). According to one of the ideologists of the global digital paradigm, K. Schwab, artificial intelligence is able to radically reformat modern socio-economic and political processes, and in the future, in many respects, replace man, surpass him in the ability to think, analyze the surrounding reality, put forward scientific hypotheses. The economic benefits of this paradigm process, as the scientist notes, are obvious: "By processing data sets that are too large for human analysis, applications created on the basis of artificial intelligence solve problems such as climate modeling, calculation of possible nuclear threat scenarios and management of large-scale sensor networks. They are also able to collect new financially significant information by analyzing large amounts of available data" [4, p. 145].

The use of artificial intelligence opens up great opportunities for actors in the field of education. In the dialog form, its application has already taken place. The voice of the electronic assistant is heard almost everywhere. Most often, due to the lack of time for an operational analysis of informative sources, the student turns to him with a question from the field of interest and, as a rule, receives an "exhaustive" answer. The described phenomenon acquires the features of a kind of guide to the world of knowledge. It is important to understand the risks of following this style of self-determination of the learning strategy.

3. Virtual (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). Virtual reality today allows you to simulate any objects, product life cycles. The creation of simulacra, that is, virtual copies without the original, is the most important topic of reflection of representatives of the philosophy of postmodernism (Zh. Baudrillard). Augmented and mixed reality is a means by which the objectively existing world is supplemented, but not leveled and disappears completely, as in the case of virtual reality. K. Schwab, in particular, rightly notes that "<...> these technologies are platforms and systems in which it is possible to ensure the creation, exchange and spreading values. Offering a completely new channel of perception of the world and interaction with it, they become one of the most powerful world-transforming technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. However, due to the effect of presence, they, more than other digital channels, will blur the line between artificial technologies, the outside world and the role of human intuition and subjectivity. By changing the mechanism of our interaction with the Internet and digital environments, BP and OTHERS raise the most important questions about the attitude of modern man" [4, p. 205].

Virtual reality can radically change the system of general and vocational education. Even at the end of the XX century, Russians were not familiar with virtual reality. In the 1990s, professional lyceums and technical schools discussed the value meanings of the process, which was then called "informatization" of the educational environment. Yesterday's schoolchildren enthusiastically played computer games, the problem of gaming computer addiction in adolescents and young men was identified. Currently, many teachers strive to make the educational process interesting and exciting, actively using gamification methods in the educational process [6]. Virtual reality in this case can serve educational purposes. Wearing virtual glasses, you can transfer from the classroom to a modern scientific laboratory, and using simulators, climb into an airplane and deal with its units. At the same time, the process of education becomes more exciting, painted in the colors of gaming activity. The computer environment familiar to students, in which they feel familiar and comfortable, also becomes an educational environment.

4. Application of promising biotechnologies. An anthropological segment of changes within the digital economy that will directly affect a significant number of the inhabitants of our planet. According to the plans of the ideologists of the new digital revolution, biotechnologies will significantly increase life expectancy, improve its quality, strengthen the individual in relation to the negative effects of the external environment, as well as get an unprecedented opportunity to combine elements of artificial intelligence with living matter. In the future, it will be possible to "grow" a person with the appropriate genetic qualities. This procedure has become possible thanks to fundamental research in the field of genetic engineering of DNA and RNA. Biotechnologies will be able to solve the problems of hunger, since it is well known that about one billion modern people on our planet do not have enough food for their physiological life support. "In order to feed humanity in the next fifty years, it will take the same amount of food resources as were produced in the previous ten thousand years," K. notes. Schwab [4 p. 182].

At the same time, even in ancient times, philosophers thought about the nature of man, his development and self-improvement, looked for factors and circumstances that contribute to his spiritual growth, thought about the imperfection of human nature, tried to correct it. They reflected on the influence of religion and the state on society, hoped for the strength of moral foundations, deduced the concept of a categorical imperative. But the man continued to remain a mystery both to himself and to others. Scientific and technological progress in the XX century has put large-scale issues on the agenda. DNA chain discovery, genetic engineering, X and Y chromosome… These discoveries break the usual stereotypes and open up new horizons for researchers of this phenomenon. What is the nature of genius, how to make a person successful, how to overcome obstacles in life, how to achieve outstanding results in studies and work? Bio- and neurotechnologies are already ready to give us an answer to many of these questions. From bold scientific experiments in the framework of genetic engineering to taking into account psychological characteristics and creating a favorable environment that increases the individual's performance.

5. Three-dimensional printing. This is an important part of modern applied technologies within the framework of the implementation of the digital economy concept. This innovation is capable of radically transforming the modern world of professions. With the help of 3D printers, you can create innovative products of any complexity, as well as apply similar technologies in medicine. The use of a 3-D printer and a 3-D scanner, in general, is of key importance for the education system. If earlier students had to peer into the subject being studied either in the illustrations in the textbook or on the computer screen, then with the invention of the 3-D printer and scanner, it became possible to materialize the images encountered in the educational process.

The educational process has acquired a practice-oriented orientation. On the scale necessary for educational purposes, it is recommended to create funds of various didactic materials, including various kinds of visual aids from the simplest layouts to the most complex mechanisms. In history classes, soldiers of the Napoleonic army "come to life", a model of a modern aircraft turns out to be in the hands of students of the aviation college [7].  New prospects are opening up for students' research activities. The image created on the computer screen acquires a new tangible three-dimensional form in a matter of minutes. The educational process, modern technologies and the creative potential of students merge into a single whole, forming a new educational paradigm. 

Next, we will consider the impact of the digitalization process in the aspect of the ontological transformation of the personality itself.

How can the new paradigm of digital education change a person? What new existential challenges await him? What dangers lie in wait for a person in the process of digital transformation into a post-homo?   

Firstly, a certain alarming trend in the global process of digitalization of education is the risk of destruction of the ideological matrix of personality, the transformation of a person into a kind of programmable biorobot. From the means providing a more effective learning process, digital technologies can theoretically turn into the main and self-sufficient goal of such fundamental changes [8]. These technologies are capable of displacing the person himself to the periphery of the pedagogical process, turning him into a "cybernetic personality" that has entered into symbiosis with his personal computer. This is the most important "challenge" of modern pedagogy. The problem of preserving humanity in man himself is of paramount importance in the XXI century. Recall that E. Fromm also expressed concerns about this point: "The monocerebral personality is so strongly embedded in the automated system that the mechanisms created by human hands also become objects of his narcissism. He loves cars as much as he loves himself. Practically, some kind of symbiotic relationship develops between them" [9, p. 303]. The problem of the impact of digital technologies on the inner world of a person was the most important topic of E. Fromm's socio-philosophical reflections. The thinker warned that the total technologization and digitalization of the existence of the individual can lead to very deplorable consequences: the transformation of a person into a kind of machine with destructive personalistic traits: "It is hardly necessary to specify particularly that the listed features very much correspond to the character of the "cybernetic personality. Especially in such moments as the non-discrimination of living and inanimate matter, the lack of attachment (love) to other people, the use of language not for communication, but manipulation, and also the predominant interest not in people, but in machines and mechanisms" [9, p. 304].

Indeed, all participants in educational relations need to learn how to build a paradigm of communication with others in the real, not virtual process of interaction. Real interpersonal interaction is not only the most important component of the socialization of the individual, building a harmonious pedagogical process, but also a fundamental factor in the preservation of human mental health.

Secondly, a very disturbing trend in the process of total informatization is the problem of reducing and transforming the role of the teacher in the education system, as the importance of "self-learning with the help of digital technologies" increases [10, p. 63]. There are, and not always, well-founded fears among representatives of educational communities that gradually NTR is able to completely displace teachers from the learning process.  In the future, personality will be formed not by living people, but by "intelligent robots" and state-certified simulation programs. Note that this process may be due to economic factors. The introduction of digital technologies in the educational process makes it possible to significantly save the budget of an educational organization (school, college, university), allowing without relative harm to the final results, significantly reduce the wage fund. Universities, colleges and schools of the future will obviously occupy areas the size of one-room apartments, where powerful servers will be located, and the entire educational process will move to the virtual simulation sphere. The wage fund, which is released as a result of such a digital transformation, can be used to improve the software of the innovative learning process, as well as to improve other material and technical components of the educational organization. But a certain anxiety is generated by the following moment: will the state be able to employ a significant part of the intelligentsia who have lost their jobs?

In this regard, the social role of the state is extremely increasing, which will have to employ a significant number of pedagogical and scientific-pedagogical workers. However, it should be borne in mind that for many teachers and training masters, "washing out" of the profession can be a severe psychoemotional blow to their personal identity and self-esteem. At the same time, a significant number of researchers of the impact of digitalization on the education system notes that it is not possible to completely exclude a teacher from the learning process. The issue of the quality of education is directly related to the participation of living people in the process of dialogical interaction between the teacher and the student [11]. As practice shows, training that excludes a teacher from this process contains significant drawbacks: "Characteristic in this regard is the recognition of an international group of futurologists that learning "from person to person", apparently, will continue to be a key factor in development, the most effective form of training and in the case of a guided and in the case of "self-directed learning". Thus, if conditions are not created for special (pedagogical) training of students for the effective use of the resources of the educational environment, there is a risk of turning online learning into "surrogate learning" or "second-class learning" [10, p. 64].

Thirdly, one of the negative trends of digitalization of the educational process is the risk of the dictate of developers of digital systems. In this aspect, the problem may lie in the absence of a dialectical relationship between the collective educational community and representatives of the "digital establishment", developers of "educational content", software of this type.  With all due respect to the representatives of the IT professions, they are not specialists in the field of pedagogy, that is, with active practitioners immersed in a complex and creative pedagogical process. It seems to us that a long-term testing of such digital programs introduced in the learning process is needed, because only in close cooperation between current teachers and the IT community is the appearance of high-quality software possible. According to a number of authors studying this problem, it is necessary to create a new specialty of a methodologist-architect of digital learning tools, whose activities will be aimed at "identifying actual deficiencies in the practice of the educational process and the formation of technical specifications in a language understandable to developers" [8, p. 57].

Fourth, an equally important problem of the global digitalization of the education process is the risk of cybercrime. The modern digital pedagogical environment is a huge virtual archive in which the personal data of each student is stored. This information should be of an exclusively closed nature, which is associated with such confidential segments of personal data as the state of health, the psychological state of the student, his ideological and axiological attitudes, the presence or absence of socially significant contacts, the specifics of thinking and other purely individual features of a unique personality.

In this regard, the risks associated with the potential possibility of leakage of this data are predictable, and the most important is the risk of "theft" of personal data by cybercriminals outside the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation [12]. Digital information warfare can be carried out in different segments of modern civilization. For this reason, developers of digital educational content should pay considerable attention to cybersecurity issues. In addition, we emphasize that the process of digitalization generates the need to transform the legal sphere of modern society, taking into account the impact of the fourth technological revolution on this segment of society in the aspect of cybersecurity [13].

Finally, a rather disturbing moment associated with the digitalization of the learning process is the risks of deterioration of students' health due to the excessively intensive use of e-education technologies [14]. According to experts, the problems of the negative impact of digital technologies on the physical and mental health of students, the total computerization of the educational process has changed the anthropological appearance of the individual as a biosocial being [15]. For example, Doctor of Medical Sciences A.S. Tikhon notes that the intensive use of computers and tablets in education significantly worsens the health of adolescents, such as: "Prolonged work at the computer leads to impaired vision, physical inactivity, social isolation. The harmful effect of electronic devices on the student is manifested in electromagnetic irradiation of the body. Large doses of harmful physical effects that can accumulate over several years can eventually cause serious consequences. But most of all, prolonged use of the computer harms the child and adolescent psyche" [16, p. 37].

Researchers, among others, especially highlight the following group of negative factors affecting the mental health of students:

a) The formation of computer addiction, when the student does not imagine his life outside of the coveted opportunity to stay in "virtual reality". It is a mistake to think that addictive addiction is formed only by games and entertainment content.

b) Distortion of the perception of objective reality, negative tendencies of the emotional background of a young person.

c) Difficulties in relationships with other personalities, the natural mechanisms of human socialization were violated. An individual who has gone headlong into virtual or augmented reality loses the natural mechanisms of building normal social relationships with another person. Moreover, such "informational alienation" in the future can produce reactive psychoses.

Due to the geopolitical conflict between Russia and the "collective West", it is quite appropriate to raise the question of an "innovative return" to some elements of the educational system developed in the USSR, which proved its unique effectiveness within the dialectic of the "mobilization project". The Russian Federation faces the most important task of accelerated import substitution and import substitution, the ability of the education system to effectively solve such complex and multilevel tasks [17].  

Let us express the opinion that the process of digitalization should be the most important element in the formation of a person with a university type of culture and worldview, which makes it possible to receive all the knowledge available to a person today. It seems necessary to form such educational standards that would contribute to the perception of a holistic picture of the world, overcoming social barriers and alienation, would give each student the widest opportunities for the fullest realization of an individual "life project". In our opinion, this means a certain "distancing" from the experience of the Western education system and a return to the best examples of Soviet pedagogy, which proved its unique effectiveness to the whole world. 

The mobilization of the economic system, the ultimate reduction of technological dependence on unfriendly countries involves the use of digital technologies in order to form a highly intelligent personality with developed critical thinking, which will be able to effectively and adequately respond to all the challenges of the post-industrial era.

 Conclusion.The application of philosophical-anthropological and socio-pedagogical approaches allowed us to draw the following conclusions.

In the Russian education system, the first steps towards digital literacy of all participants in educational relations were made back in the late 1990s. During this period, this process was called "informatization" of the educational environment of educational institutions. The transition to the introduction of a wide range of information and computer technologies into the pedagogical process took place during the implementation of the first national project "Education" (2005-2010). In the 2010s, big data analytics, the all-encompassing use of artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, testing the possibilities of virtual and augmented reality, the use of 3-D printing in teaching – these and other latest technologies allowed us to move to a new stage in the development of Russian education. In the 2020s, the pace of development of the educational environment in the context of digital transformation encourages further reflection on the prospects and significant risks that the digitalization process brings to the consumer society.




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