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К содержанию номера журнала: Вестник КАСУ №1 - 2009

Автор: Абдразакова К. Ж.

Three types of technology are now available to facilitate distance education. They will be described below (UNESCO, 2002):

Computer-assisted education

Interactive computer applications, the first type of technology, are especially helpful as aids in teaching course-specific knowledge and skills. Interactive computer applications not only allow the student to select a variety of functions within the program, but also make it possible for the student to access information in nonlinear ways. Depending on the application, students can obtain information about their performance from the application (Raymond and Pike, 2004).

Interactive video disks (IVD), one of the first types of interactive computer applications to be developed (Falk and Carlson, 2006), can be effectively used to provide distance education. Students in remote sites can move through IVD programs at their own paces and schedules. IVD programs normally provide the student with three or four selections, with each choice initiating various video segments. Depending on the student's choice, the video tape will continue, remedial instruction will be provided, or feedback will be given about the option selected. When computer applications are used in this way, the computer becomes a teaching machine to deliver education to learners in distance locations. Although there is no real- time interaction with the faculty member, the student interacts with the instructional units presented through the computer. The level of interaction can range from low to high, depending on the type of computer application used. Six modes of computer-assisted instruction can be used effectively for distance education purposes: drill and practice, tutorial, gaming, simulation, discovery, and problem solving (Witmer, 2004).

The use of computer applications to deliver distance education has distinct benefits:

- students in remote locations can engage in self- paced, individualized learning;

- the students receive immediate positive reinforcement and feedback through use of the computer application;

- the utilization of IVDs can expose the distance learner to a wide variety of information including graphics, electronic print, and sound;

- by using such applications the student can control the time and length of study required for mastery of each learning unit;

- computer-assisted distance education makes it possible to provide individualized learning on a large scale to students in many diverse sites.

In spite of these advantages, however, higher education has made minimal use of computer-assisted education programs to deliver distance education. The tremendous cost that may be involved in developing the software has impeded progress in this area (Raymond and Pike, 2004).

Audio/video-mediated education

The delivery of distance education has also been advanced by recent developments in the second type of technology - audio and video communications (AVC) systems. These systems facilitate the transmission of knowledge between teacher and learner. As a result of these developments, students at remote locations can engage in live interaction with the teacher and with other students in real-time. This interaction can be achieved in one of several ways, depending on the type of AVC equipment that is utilized (Raymond and Pike, 2004).

The first type of system entails two-way audio communication, with no video. This learning situation is similar to an audio conference or conference call, but includes more participants. Students at remote locations interact with the instructor using a speaker phone or comparable technology.

The second type of AVC delivery system utilizes two-way audio and two-way video communication. Students at distant locations can see the professor and can speak with the professor and other students. The signals can be delivered by a number of means, including telephone lines, satellite systems, cable television, and closed-circuit television. Multiple technologies are often used as an integrated system of system delivery (Gartio, 2005).

A third type of AVC system makes it possible for two-way audio and two-way video interaction to occur. In this learning scenario the teacher can see, hear, and interact with the students and, at the same time, the students can see, hear, and interact with the teacher and each other. Multiple technologies can be used to facilitate this interaction. These include satellite systems, cable television and closed-circuit television.

Computer-mediated education

Distance education can also be provided through the use of a third type of technology - computer-mediated education systems. Computer-mediated education technologies are like audio/video-mediated education technologies in that they facilitate the transmission of knowledge between the teacher and the learner. These systems do not provide actual instruction, as is the case with computer- assisted technologies. Computer-mediated education systems include facsimile machines, electronic mail systems, computer networks, and interactive compressed video (ICV) systems. Two of the computer-mediated education technologies now most widely used in distance education will be described ± computer networks and ICV systems. Computer networks, which are collections of computers that are electronically linked and allow information to flow among different computers, have revolutionized the way information is delivered throughout society, including education systems. These networks can range in size from local area networks (LAN) which link computers within a small area (such as a university or department thereof), to wide area networks (WAN) which connect computers within a large geographic area such as a city or state, to the Internet, which is the largest computer network in the world and connects many of the world's LANs and WANs (Gibbs, 2004).

Computer networks not only make it possible for students to access information from data sources throughout the world, but they also enable educators in both distance education and traditional education classes to interact with individual students at remote sites. For example, teachers can use electronic mail (e- mail) to communicate with students about teaching assignments, feedback on graded exercises, or answers to specific questions. Students can submit course assignments to their teachers electronically, ask questions and obtain feedback from their instructors. List-servs are being used increasingly in distance education (and with the traditional classroom) to facilitate communication between teachers and entire groups of students who are on their class rolls. Messages, notices, and assignments can be posted simultaneously to the entire class. Discussions of course material and issues related to learning can also be posted to the list. When used in this manner, the listserv ensures that all members of the class receive the same information, directions, and suggestions from the teacher. Furthermore, the use of a listserv can facilitate more active participation among class members. In addition to general postings on the listserv, class members can send private messages to each other or to the teacher regarding the issue under study (Raymond and Pike, 2004).

There are also several types of distance education courses such as:

- Correspondence conducted through regular mail;

- Internet conducted either synchronously or asynchronously;

- Telecourse/Broadcast, in which content is delivered via radio or television;

- CD-ROM, in which the student interacts with computer content stored on a CD-ROM;

- PocketPC/Mobile Learning where the student accesses course content stored on a mobile device or through a wireless server.

Courses can be offered in their entirety over the Internet. These courses are commonly referred to as Web-based courses, and should be differentiated from Web-supported courses. Web-supported courses, either in the traditional classroom or distance education environment, use the Internet to augment and enrich teaching/learning through methods such as those discussed - e-mail and list-servs. In Web- based courses, the entire content may be offered online, without any audio/video communication between the teacher and the students. Web-based courses may entail a great deal of asynchronous communication between the teacher and students; for example, students' requests, questions, and comments can be sent, received and processed at any time. A reported difficulty with Web-based courses is the open- ended demand on instructor time because of this asynchronous feature. Another problem is the great deal of time and labor that is required to prepare a Web-based course (Gold, & Maitland, 2006). Because of these time and labor requirements, progress in the development and implementation of Internet- based courses has been slow. Nonetheless, Web-based courses offer a promising approach to distance education in higher education.

A final example of computer-mediated education, the use of ICV systems, has had a profound impact on the delivery of distance education. ICV systems combine computers with telephone lines to transmit signals. This technology involves the use of codecs - devices that compress or decompress the signal on both ends of a digital phone line. Depending on the type of equipment that is used, there may be a slight delay of sound and some impairment in video quality (Beller, and Or, 2004). ICV systems are now relatively inexpensive to purchase and operate. Consequently, these systems have become the most commonly-used form of technology used to deliver distance education in the USA.

Distance Education has traversed four to five 'generations' of technology in its history. Yet the radio remains a very viable form, especially in the developing nations, because of its reach. In India the FM Channel is very popular and is being used by universities, to broadcast educational programs of variety on areas such as teacher education, rural development, programs in agriculture for farmers, science education, creative writing, mass communication, in addition to traditional courses in liberal arts, science and business administration. The increasing popularity of mp3 players, PDAs and Smart Phone has provided an additional medium for the distribution of distance education content, and some professors now allow students to listen or even watch video of a course as a Podcast. Some colleges have been working with the U.S. military to distribute entire course content on a PDA to deployed personnel.

In at least one instance, an online course has been run entirely in a 3D virtual world through the popular online community Second Life. This approach has also been used in conjunction with on-campus class meetings, making the separation between distance and on-campus students increasingly insignificant.

In short then, though a range of technology presupposes a distance education 'inventory' it is technological appropriateness and connectivity, such as computer, or for that matter electrical connectivity that should be considered, when we think of the world as a whole, while fitting in technological applications to distance education.

Second Life has recently become one of the cutting-edge virtual classrooms for major colleges and universities, including Princeton, Rice University, University of Derby (UK), Vassar, the Open University (UK). In 2007 Second Life started to be used for foreign language tuition. Both Second Life and real life language educators have begun to use the virtual world for language tuition. English (as a foreign language) has gained a presence through several schools, including the British Council, which has focused on the Teen Grid. Spain’s language and cultural institute “Instituto Cervantes” has an island on Second Life.

Distance education vs. traditional residential education

Distance education is a different way of offering education as opposed to traditional residential education. The term ‘traditional residential education’ in this research refers to the on-campus university education. Students have to attend classes at specific pace and times. They have to be therefore a specified duration and sit for exams at specific times.

The term ‘distance education’ refers to two kinds of education. The first and historically older kind is the synchronous, Open University style of education. In this form of education, students get the bulk of their education through media other than physical attendance. They start their studies at a specific time and have their exams at a specific time as well. The time and pace are pre-determined. The students get their tuition through printed materials, audio, video, radio and television. They have to attend on-campus activities a few times every year. The second recent kind, named asynchronous (or Internet) distance education benefits from the recent advances in computer and communication technologies (Alsunbul, 2002).

It provides the student with the benefits of learning at his/her own time and pace. The course materials are provided via electronic media that can be accessed by the student when and where it suits him/her. This form of education does not impose any restrictions on the time of enrollment, duration of study, or the dates of exams. Normally, the student does not have to attend any on-campus activities. This form of education utilizes the Internet technology.

Looking back to the last two or three decades only very few distance education institutions around the world associated with open universities were present. Nowadays many universities of continuing regular education around the world already started or are planning to start a program on distance education. According to U.S. Statistics, Khawalda (2006, p.6) quoted that distance education was offered by about 90 percent of all higher education institutions in the U.S. To facilitate interaction in distance education, and to get high quality learning, a solid foundation of skills and knowledge should be laid out. It is important to provide an adequate infrastructure, sufficient resources to support the development of course content, access to appropriate technology, and to incorporate training with the goals of traditional education and achievement of course goals (Bielema, 2004). With regard to Kazakh, the kind of distance education now mostly offered is the asynchronous open-university style. They get the course materials in printed form or on computer media. These universities hold intensive courses for their students at locations in Kazakhstan. The timing of the intensive courses is arranged to suit working people. These arrangements are intended to suit working Kazakhstan people who are interested in furthering their education.

Advocates of distance education claim that this form of education is the most suitable form for today’s lifestyle. Some studies by Dale (2004) andAhmed (2004) suggested that the performance of distance education students is even better than that of traditional residential education students. Mohamed (2005, p.11) claimed that students preferred distance education to residential education. Some studies concluded that the scientific material provided in distance education is more organized than that provided in residential education (Ahmed, 2004, Almeda, 2004, Alsunbul, 2002, p.72).

Three main characteristics of today’s life are cited as imposing great challenges on traditional residential education and are urging for change. These include:

- The current era is marred with high rates of unemployment. One of the main reasons for this is the lack of adequate education. The traditional residential education system is not capable of coping with the accelerating pace of change. Hence, in many disciplines it is failing to provide the students with up- to-date knowledge (Ahmed, 2004) & (Larose et al, 2004).

- Business organizations are in great need to acquire new technologies and new scientific methodologies to improve their performance, but in many cases are unable to spare their employees time to further their knowledge.

- In these times of economic crisis and inflation, the increasingly high cost of residential education is hindering a lot of people from continuing their education. Distance education can provide a way out for those wanting to study, but are faced with the above problems.

On the one hand, it is suggested that successful distance education learners need to be independent learners who are motivated and have focused goals in mind. These learners need flexibility in program structure (many have other responsibilities, such as full-time jobs) and want practical information that they can use immediately.

On the other hand, distance education has the problems in the field of knowledge testing and evaluation. Distance education has had trouble since its conception with the testing of material. The delivery is fairly straightforward, which makes sure it is available to the student and he or she can read it at their leisure. The problem arises when the student is required to complete assignments and testing. Whether quizzes, tests, or examinations online courses have had difficulty controlling cheating because of the lack of teacher control. In a classroom situation a teacher can monitor students and visually uphold a level of integrity consistent with an institution's reputation. With distance education the student can be removed from supervision completely. Some schools address integrity issues concerning testing by requiring students to take examinations in a controlled setting.

Assignments have adapted by becoming larger, longer, and more thorough so as to test for knowledge by forcing the student to research the subject and prove they have done the work. Quizzes are a popular form of testing knowledge and many courses go by the honor system regarding cheating. Even if the student is checking questions in the textbook or online, there may be an enforced time limit or the quiz may be worth so little in the overall mark that it becomes inconsequential. Exams and bigger tests may be harder to regulate. In smaller tests a professor may employ another computer program to keep all other programs from running on the computer reducing the possibility of help from the Internet.

Used in combination with invigilators, a pre-arranged supervisor trusted with over-looking big tests and examinations may be used to increase security. Many Midterms and Final examinations are held at a common location so that professors can supervise directly. Many of these examinations are still on the computer in which case the same program blocking software can be used. When the Internet became a popular medium for distance education many websites were founded offering secure exam software and packages to help professors manage their students more effectively.

Even though, distance education offers the following benefits (Alsunbul, 2002, p.73):

- portability (education delivered on-site),

- accessibility (available any time, in the workplace or the home), affordability, (cost effective for individuals and industry),

- incremental (augmenting current programs and services),

- effectiveness (increasing employee satisfaction and industry success),

- and flexibility (customized to individual learning requirements and progress).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Ahmed, M. K. (2004). Learning Efficiency: Distance Learning Versus Traditional Learning. 2nd Scientific Conference: The University & the Challenges of the Future. Faculty of the 2 Administrative & Financial Sciences, Philadelphia University, Jordan, 20-22 October 2004.

2. Amel, M., (2005). Distance Higher Education in the Arab Region: The need for Quality assurance Frame works. Distance Learning Adminstration, Vol. 8, No. 1.

3. Almeda, M. B. (2004). University of California Extension Online: from Concept to Reality. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, Vol. 2, No. 2, Sep. 2004.

4. Alsunbul, A. (2002). Issues relating to distance education in the Arab world. Convergence, 35(1), PP 59-80.

5. Bates, A.W. (2006). Technology, Open Learning and Distance Education. London:Routledge.

6. Beller, M. and Or, E. (2004), The Crossroads Between Lifelong Learning & Information Technology: A Challenge Facing Leading Universities. Journal of Computer Mediated Communications, Vol. 4, No. 2, 2004.

7. Bielema, C. L., (2004). "How Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) Can Work to Enhance Distance Delivery of Courses." Journal of Applied Communications: p. 3-17.



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