Some problems of distance learning technology application at the university
Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №4 - 2012
Sakhariyeva Svetlana, East Kazakhstan State University in honor of S. Amanzholov, Kazakhstan
Serebryanikova Marina, Moscow State University of Economics, Statistics and Informatics (branch), Kazakhstan
In the modern system of higher education there is a
gradual displacement of the traditional paradigm, based on passive assimilation
of knowledge and upbringing of “a cognizant person”, to a new model of
education, which is based on the principle of forming “an intellectual person”,
capable to creativity and self-improvement. However, the solution of such a
priority task is possible only in case of introduction of innovative
technologies into the system of higher education.
Introduction of innovations into the system of
education, according to G. V. Lavrentyev, N. V. Lavrentyeva, can be carried out
at the following levels:
- macro level, which entails changing the whole
educational system and in the majority of cases leads to paradigm change;
- mesa level - leads to changes in the educational
environment of the region, as well as the specific educational institution;
- micro level attracts changes in a specific course or
block of subjects or courses .
However, no matter at what level the innovation is
implemented, thorough organization and monitoring of the innovation process
implementation and also the observance of the following steps and procedures
- theoretical - justification of innovation
(functionality in the overall concept of the university, the allocation and
implementation of pedagogical, methodological, technological conditions,
ensuring efficiency of the process, prognosis of negative and positive outcomes
of an innovation);
- organizational - establishment of appropriate
structures at the university, which contributes to innovation application;
- innovation – creation of material and technical basis,
information and educational environment of the higher education institution,
professional development of teaching staff.
In our view, innovation technology in the system of
higher education is the technology of creation of a new or existing product on
the basis of contemporary methods and techniques of teaching and learning aimed
at improving the quality of specialists training and activization of the role
of independent work of students.
Innovation in institutes of higher education is, first
of all, transformation of new knowledge into new technologies. Distance
learning is one that stands out among innovation techniques which have been
widely applied into the practice of modern universities. Intensifying processes
of distance learning implementation into the higher education system is dictated
by the objective circumstances:
- the loss of significance and stagnancy of some
traditional distance learning approaches;
- implementation of competence approach in education;
- the dynamics of social, economic processes taking place
in a modern society, etc.
Analyzing points of view of various scientists (A.
Andreyev, G.K. Nurgaliyeva, D.M. Dzhusubaliyeva, A.T. Chaklikova, I.V. Robert,
E.S. Polat, E.G Skibitskiy, etc.) concerning the essence of the notion
“distance learning”, it should be mentioned that this term is defined by researchers
as “a new form of teaching”, “method”, “process”, “system”, “away”. We relate
this notion to off-campus education programs and define it as technology based
on IT means, providing interaction of subjects and management of the learning
process . The following can be referred to positive aspects of distance learning:
- accessibility - everyone who is at least 18 years old
has the right to receive an education;
- flexibility - each student selects an individual pace
of studying and individual training strategy, focusing on the final objective;
student can also work wherever and whenever it is convenient for him (her), the
educational process is subdivided into modules (each week devoted to a certain
theme, and exercises for compulsory studying) division into modules creates
unlimited opportunities for organization of training programmers and their update;
- cost-effectiveness - distance learning is at least 50%
below the cost of full-time tuition;
- individualization of learning - taking into account
individual needs of each student, providing individual interaction between the
teacher (a tutor) and the student, opportunities to learn outside the classroom
and without a group.
It should be noted that the technological features of
distance learning have a major impact not only on the selection of content but
also on structuring of the training material. The educational process in the
form of distance learning is more labor-intensive and multifaceted than in
However, there are certain peculiarities of distance
learning application - that must be taken into account when students are
selected, course content is developed, and monitoring of students’ knowledge
and skills is organized:
- at all stages of the learning process IT and mass
media means are used as technological basis;
- interaction between all subjects of educational
process (between teachers and students, between students, between institution
of higher education and students) is ensured by means of Information and
Communication Technologies (hereinafter - ICT);
- students needn’t leave their town and can study the
content of the courses individually in the convenient pace;
- the new role of a teacher as a tutor includes coordination,
correction, guiding learning process, advising and monitoring the quality of
- specialized monitoring of quality of education: a distantly
organized exam, an interview, practical or project work, externship, computer,
intelligence and testing systems are applied as the form of control;
- the use of new educational technologies and
progressive techniques (project-based method, modular teaching, collaborative
teaching, teaching at different levels, individual and differentiated approach
in teaching, etc.);
- a compulsory computer literacy of all the subjects of
the educational process;
- much attention should be paid to independent work of a
student – a teacher develops knowledge content (lectures, assignments, a
glossary, the test material, exam questions), however a student must
independently learn the given content, using only individual consultations,
chat rooms, text messaging, etc.
Organization of the distance learning is directly linked
to the choice of its form of organization. Different organization forms of
distance learning depending on the degree of ICT usage in the learning process
are known in the international practice:
- traditional (by correspondence);
- partial usage of ICT;
- fully electronic.
We should carefully examine the last two forms of
learning because of their high popularity and experimental implementation in
the system of off-campus courses at EKSU in honor of S. Amanzholov. In case of
partial usage of information technologies a student is given didactic and
methodical material in the form of cases, meanwhile some part of the material
can be presented in a digital form, all the other learning materials can be uploaded
to the portal of distance learning. Teacher and student interaction is done
through various means of telecommunication technologies (text messaging, chat
rooms, and forums).
An electronic form of studying provides such
conveniences, when a student after submission of a request to his/her educational
institution gets an email with didactic and methodical materials according to
his/ her sphere of learning (including the downloaded material from the portal
of distance learning), which he/she studies independently. Interaction of all
participants of an educational process is fully implemented on the basis of the
wide use of modern means of communication. This form can be applied in the
regions that are fully provided with modern communication techniques.
Realizing the experimental nature of distance learning
implementation, taking into account the peculiarities of the project
realization, we carried out the research which was aimed at identifying common
problems and difficulties that students and teachers implementing distance
learning programs can come across. The survey was conducted along with observations
and personal conversations, both with students and with teachers.
We received the following survey results interviewing
• 87% of the teachers were against of distance learning
at the initial stages of its implementation.
• 88% of teachers indicated that the introduction of
this innovation caused them certain psychological and technical inconveniences
associated with reluctance to implement distance learning.
• 67%were reluctant to interact with “virtual students”
and use ICT.
• 34% felt anxiety.
• 56% lacked competence in this field.
• 57% were of conventional mindset.
• 78% lacked trust in this form of teaching, outcomes of
distance learning (i.e. “distance learning specialists”).
• 34% of teachers had the desire to preserve traditional
• 45% of respondents mentioned that distance learning
would increase amount of unpaid work - (development of course, update,
assessment of course assignments, etc.).
We also asked about the nature of difficulties and
problems of students and teachers who work in the system of distance learning.
We received the following answers: 78% of respondents noted the absence of
“real” motivation tools, stimulation and learning management; 45% of teachers
mentioned that it was time-consuming to develop content of the course and
upload it to the portal; 54% of respondents had difficulties with the identification
of a student (hard to determine “who fulfills” the assignments); 90% experienced
loss of communication with a student (doesn’t do the assignments, doesn’t
contact a teacher); 45% of teachers pointed out the specific nature of some
lectures and peculiarities in specialist training and therefore the inability
to “place” the content of the course into electronic “wrap”; 76% of respondents
stated that they had some difficulties to determine how big the volume of
uploaded information should be and also were unaware of the level of
achievements, personal accomplishments of a student - 34%.
With the purpose of disciplines correction and
responding adequately to emerging problems we reviewed the results of the
examinations completed by distance learning students who study Educational
Sciences (“Pedagogics”, “History of education”, “Modern educational techniques”,
“Educational research methods”, “Ethnopedagogics”, “Introduction to teaching
profession”, etc.). The results of expert evaluation have identified the following
main students’ problems:
- the lack of integrity and consistency in understanding
of knowledge content;
- the lack of consistency in learning the course
- inability to see the connection between various
pedagogical ideas, concepts, and categories;
- limited understanding of the subject knowledge
(predominant reading of lectures, uploaded to the distance learning portal);
- the lack of understanding of basic pedagogical ideas,
- the lack of vision of the relation between theoretical
knowledge and its implementation in practice;
- the absence of self-organization and self-education
The results of the teachers’ survey were supported by responses
of students. Students were asked whether the problem was in the organization of
learning. 95% of respondents replied positively, meanwhile the nature of the
difficulties varied: 45% of students related difficulties to the lack or
underdevelopment of the technical base (especially in distant regions); the
lack of self-organization skills was identified by 56%; the whole independence
in learning subject knowledge also seemed to be a problem - 87%. 54% of
interviewed mentioned that they were offered very complex tasks and tasks,
where instructions were not clear; tasks requiring additional sources of
information - 53%; 23% have noticed sufficient complexity of the materials of
lectures; 78% of respondents indicated that the materials of the lectures were
in a very contracted form, consequently students needed additional lectures and
seminars to systematize acquired knowledge. We want to especially emphasize
that a comparative analysis of students who previously studied in colleges and
those who studied for a Bachelor’s degree shows that students who hold one
degree and had experience studying full-time, are having significantly less
To summarize, we should say that analysis of teachers’
and students’ difficulties identified the following objective problems
(technological, methodical, psychological), connected with the implementation
of distance learning in higher education:
- the absence or underdevelopment of computer bases in
- problems with adaptation to distant learning
technology, because of its specificity;
- the inability to train some professions with the help
of distant learning technology (Physical Education, Music, etc.) because of
- poor skills of students’ self-education and
- the problem of student identification;
- psychological (passivity of a teacher);
- lack of social interaction (in the form of
"live" exchange of ideas, opinions, experience);
- the problem of distance course content, etc.
The implementation of any innovation in education (in
particular of distance learning) associated with the "resistance to
innovation". It happens when teachers and students feel a certain
psychological discomfort, generated by the nature of change; the subjects of
learning do not have enough information (uncertainty and obscurity cause
anxiety), upcoming innovation implies increased amount of work or changes
implemented too quickly, emphatically, in an authoritarian form, etc.
Having analyzed Ilyina N.A. research , my own
experience in this field, the nature of typical difficulties of both students
and teachers we have developed a number of guidelines that would ensure the
success of innovation:
- It is necessary to diagnose the degree of readiness
(psychological, technological, methodological) of the university teaching staff
- The teaching staff should clearly know when and what
will be implemented, in connection with that it is necessary to conduct a
collective analysis of possible options of innovation, have clear sense of the
- To follow the rules that innovations should be
implemented stage by stage, this significantly reduces the risk and potential
rejection of innovations;
- It will help if respectable people of the university
will encourage, support the change (leading professors, professionals);
- Constantly inform the teaching staff of the university
about preparation and implementation of innovations, especially about
management innovations (the absence of information leads to gossips);
- To conduct psychological and organizational
orientations that will prove stable, consistent and purposeful nature of
innovation, allowing to progress in a constantly changing environment;
- To involve the teaching staff and auxiliary personnel
working in all departments of the university in implementation of innovations.
An employee, who has made a certain contribution to organizational
restructuring, becomes a supporter and protector of it;
- When innovation is planned it is necessary to take
into account a social risk, i.e. an action plan in a situation of uncertainty,
unexpectedness. Risk is a social problem, which requires a lot of efforts and
money when the amount of gains and losses is uncertain.
Thus, we believe the problems and difficulties we
identified and recommendations we made to overcome them will assist in further
development of distance learning technologies.
1. Lavrentyev, G.V., Lavrentyeva, N.B.
Innovacionnye obuchajushhie tehnologii v professional'noj podgotovke specialistov.
[Innovative educational technologies in professional training].
2. Bondareva, S.G. (2007). Sovremennye
informacionnye tehnologii v sisteme vysshego obrazovanija. [Modern information
technologies in higher education]. Ust-Kamenogorsk, p.80.
3. Ilyina, N.A. (1985). Otnoshenie k novovvedenijam
v proizvodstvennom kollektive. [Relation to innovations in the
production staff]: Author’s abstract Candidate of Education. Leningrad.
Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №4 - 2012