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К содержанию номера журнала: Вестник КАСУ №1 - 2005

Автор: Бордияну И.

In the recent years universities in different countries of the world have paid attention to opportunities offered by computer telecommunication technologies for the organization of on-line education. Computer telecommunications provide an effective feedback both in the organization of the teaching material and in dialogue with the instructor conducting the course. Such training “at a distance” has received in the last few years the name of "on-line education" as opposed to the correspondence courses familiar to all.

On-line education is a quickly developing method of education, which has emerged in the last third of the 20th century. This came as a result of comprehension that the progress of mankind has finally overcome such barriers between the student and the teacher as distance, employment, age, etc. You are engaged at home or at work at any time convenient for you. You can study at leisure, in any place and at a suitable pace!

Distance education is the special educational technology as a result of influence and interaction of five factors:

- Shifts in hierarchy of vital values - good education is appreciated more and more;

- Increase of need of a modern labor market in highly professional and competent experts;

- The dynamism of a modern life forcing professionals actively to move both in space, and on a social ladder;

- Globalization and internationalization of a modern labor market, technologies and services;

- The advances in science and technology that allowed introducing new means of communication and information processing in education.

The modern life today is such that traditional forms of training frequently cannot satisfy the needs of particular categories of people who desire to be the learner in a particular manner.

For example:

- Youth, if necessary overlapping of study with work, geographical remoteness from the centers of training, and other reasons;

- Persons of all ages living in the remote regions of the country;

- Experts, wishing to study in any other direction;

- Students, aspiring to receive additional training not necessarily related to their major;

- Impaired individuals;

- Heads of regional authorities and administration

- Teachers of various educational establishments, and etc.

But nobody should be deprived of opportunities to study due to geographical or time insolubility, impossibility to visit educational establishments by virtue of physical defects or employment industrial and private affairs.

On-line education is the way to break out of this vicious circle. Being the consequence of objective process of information systems development and incorporating the best features of other forms, on-line education entered the 21st century as the most perspective and effective form of education.

However, first of all it is important to define on what conceptual pedagogical positions it is expedient to build a modern on-line course. Shortly they can be reduced to the following:

1. In the center of process of training there is an independent learner’s cognitive activity (the focus being on learning instead of teaching). The studies, independent acquisition and application of knowledge have become the need of the modern person throughout his or her entire conscious life in conditions postindustrial, information-based societies.

2. Thus, on the one hand, a more flexible education system is required, allowing acquiring knowledge there and then, where and when it is convenient for the learner. On the other hand, it is important, that the learner not only acquires a certain amount of knowledge but, more importantly, that he becomes an independent learner, able to process the information and to master ways of cognitive activity which he or she could apply further if necessary to raise their qualifications, to change a vocation, etc.

3. Independent acquisition of knowledge should not be of a passive nature; on the contrary, the learner from the beginning should be involved in the active cognitive activity which is not limited by mastering the knowledge, but by all means providing their application to find solutions for various problems. During such training students should first of all learn to get and apply knowledge to search and find the means of training necessary for them and sources of the information to be able to work with this information.

4. The organization of independent (individual or group) learning activity in a network assumes in not smaller degree than in resident instruction, the use of the latest pedagogical technologies stimulating disclosing of internal reserves of each student and simultaneously promoting formation of social qualities of the person (skill to work in a group, carrying out various social roles, working together on group projects, solving by joint effort difficult cognitive problems). First of all, the issue is to widely apply what is known as project work, cooperative learning, research and problem-solving methods.

5. On-line education, individualized in its very essence, should not at the same time exclude opportunities of on-going communication with the instructor as well as with other partners, cooperation in the course of various sorts of cognitive and creative activity. The issues of socialization are rather vital for on-line education.

6. The monitoring system behind mastering of knowledge and ways of cognitive activity, ability, skill to apply the received knowledge in various problem situations should be systematic; it must be based on an operative feedback (incorpocoursed both in the text of a material, and in an opportunity of an operative reference to the teacher or the adviser of an on-line course), and the deferred control (for example, at testing).

In the literature on on-line education a number of the general characteristics applicable to any kind of on-line training are determined which are crucial for the course’s effectiveness:

- on-line courses assume a more careful and detailed planning activity of the learner, its organization, precise statement of goals and objectives of the training, and the provision of necessary instructional materials;

- interactivity is the key concept of educational programs of on-line training. On-line courses should provide the greatest possible interactivity between the learner and the teacher, an interaction between the learner and a teaching material, and to give an opportunity for group training;

- it is extremely important to provide a highly effective feedback so that the learner could be assured in the correctness of his or her progress on the way from ignorance to knowledge. Such feedback should be in the forms of diagnostic, placement, achievement and exit assessment.

- motivation is also a major element of any course of on-line education. For this purpose it is important to use various approaches and means;

- the structure of an on-line course should be modular so that the learner may have an opportunity to track his or her progress from one module to another. Volumetric modules or courses significantly reduce the learner’s motivation. If we are concerned with higher education, such training can be offered:

a) to the students wishing independently to study any course which in their higher educational institution is not studied and to pass examination for this course, having received the corresponding certificate;

b) to the students, who wish to deepen their knowledge in any subject or who are not satisfied with the level and organization of teaching at the university;

c) to the students, wishing to liquidate blanks in the knowledge because of the significant number of missed lectures due to illness or other reasons;

d) to the students, wishing to study any specific course of the foreign program.

Any model of on-line education should provide:

- a flexible combination of independent cognitive activity of students and various sources of information including the teaching materials specially developed for the given course;

- an on-going interaction with the teacher conducting the course and advisers or coordinators;

- cooperative learning with participants of the course, using a variety of problem-solving, research, and critical thinking methods while working on the modules of a course;

- group projects of participants of a course with foreign partners (the international projects), organizing discussions, presentations of groups and individual presentations of intermediate and final results during electronic teleconferences, exchanging opinions, the information with participants of a course through the Internet.

The assessment for on-line training should be timely and built into the development of corresponding teaching materials. There should be an exit or final assessment on the part of the conducting teacher and advisers - coordinators in the form of tests, research papers, presentations and other creative works.

The problem of organizing on-line education is multifaceted and extremely difficult. Certainly, the list of issues mentioned above is by no means exhaustive. There are many other questions of both technical and pedagogical and economic nature, which in each particular case will be solved according to particular conditions of technological maintenance of students, according to specific characteristics of a concrete course and the purpose of training.

In this connection it would be desirable to consider, how on-line education at the Kazak-American Free University is carried out. Along with standard methods of training at KAFU the new approach of on-line education was introduced in 2003. One may wonder why there should be on-line education when there are books available for self-study. It is true. But it is far from being true that all students are capable of working with the book. Studying of any subject is connected to going beyond its borders, or expanding those borders. Frequently, while studying independently, a student may have questions to which there are no answers to be found in the book. Therefore, on-line education is unique. The student learns only that what he or she does not know yet and only what he or she is motivated to study. The learner may choose one or several courses, which correspond to the curriculum he or she is following at present, but in each course the learner is worked on an individual basis and finds answers to all or almost all the questions.

The purpose of on-line education is to give students a necessary level of theoretical and practical knowledge.

Advantages of on-line education at KAFU are the following:

- the cost of on-line education is affordable to any student;

- the on-line education is accessible. At KAFU there is a resource center, where there are enough computers and access to the Internet;

- the on-line education is perspective – distance education technologies grow from year to year;

- the student receives a maximum of convenience and saves time and money.

Disadvantages of on-line education at KAFU:

the absence of direct visual contact with the teacher. However, it does not greatly affect the quality of training. Students and teachers could find other ways compensating this lack. Training materials and a technique of teaching are adapted to conditions when the information is perceived extremely visually, using advantages of interactive means. All students of on-line education have identical opportunities for active participation in seminars. In result, the opinion of each student is taken into account. A distinctive feature of on-line education at KAFU is the agreement of cooperation signed between KAFU and three American universities: Seattle Pacific University in the state of Washington, Indiana Wesleyan University in the state of Indiana, and Letourneau University in the state of Texas. For a very small fee, KAFU students can sign up for on-line courses offered by these universities. In the academic year of 2003-2004 our undergraduate and graduate students participated in the following on-line courses: Organizational Behavior, International Marketing, and Human Resources Management. Starting from March 1, 2005 KAFU MBA students can be enrolled in a new course on Managerial Finance.

What is necessary for participation in distance courses?

- an active e-mail account through which tasks will be communicated and interaction will occur with all participants;

- good possession of the English language, as that is the language of instruction and of all teaching materials.

How long does an on-line course last?

Terms of training are various and depend on the complexity of a course. Courses are designed for intensive independent work and correspondence with the teacher takes place within 4-12 weeks.

What does on-line education give?

The student receives an opportunity of distance dialogue with highly skilled teachers. For a successful completion of a course the student receives the certificate of achievement, which can be very valuable in the future as the student seeks job or promotion opportunities.

What does the course of on-line education consist of and how is it realized?

An on-line course consists of the following elements:

- The name of a course – the name of a course, time of training.

- The instructor of a course – a surname and a name of the teacher of a course.

- The electronic address of the instructor.

- The information of a course – the purposes and problems of a course, the description of a course, the order of training, assessment criteria, the textbooks, requirements for the course and for the equipment, the recommendation on training and a course, the cost of training.

- Materials of a course – assignments.

- The schedule – the schedule of performance of tasks, carrying out of discussions in an electronic forum.

- Forum – an electronic forum where questions and tasks at the course according to the schedule are discussed.

- Students - the list of students of the course, including a surname and a name, activity, the electronic address.

- The help – the information on the system. The instruction for users of a distance course includes the following questions: how correctly to use a course, how to carry out tasks, how to participate in an electronic forum, how to carry out and send tasks, the description of the menu of a course.

The implementation of on-line education at KAFU occurs as follows. In the beginning of the program the administrator of on-line education sends the list of offered disciplines. Then the instructor carries out interrogation among students and chooses the most necessary subjects for students. After that the instructor sends the name of the chosen subjects and the list of students with their electronic addresses in the registration form. The program administrator registers participants of courses on the basis of the applications sent by e-mail and sends confirmation to participants and the instructor in registration. Then the program administrator sends out instructive and other materials to the instructor and students. Students receive contracts on training, sign and pay for the training.

The following step is the actual process of on-line education. The student enters the username and password. Then he or she gets to the blackboard. This is the first area the learner will always come to after logging in. Announcements and links to a variety of tools appear here. After that the student carefully studies the information on the given service and starts to work. Usually, in the beginning of week the teacher sends individual tasks and offers questions on the given subjects.

During all week the student independently carries out tasks, and also takes part in discussion of various questions. Also by means of a computer the student can ask all questions interesting to him or her.

When the student finishes the home assignments, he or she sends them to the teacher. The teacher evaluates the work and returns them back to the student with comments. During all on-line education the student carries out control tasks and, at the end of training, passes examination or carries out a project.

What does the student receive after the ending of on-line education?

- Knowledge – the best teachers of the western universities will help with it.

- Skills and experience of independent work, practical lessons and examinations under the direction of experienced teachers; the final project - all this will help the student feel confident and competent in a new field of knowledge.

- The certificate.

In summary, it is worth mentioning that on-line training is a new, modern, accessible and effective way to receive knowledge. If somebody does not like or cannot afford more traditional forms of training, but lacks discipline or time for self-study, then on-line education is the solution to the problem!


1. Теория и практика дистанционного обучения: Учеб. Пособие для студ. высш. пед. учеб. заведений/Е.С. Полат, М.Ю. Бухаркина, М.В. Моисеева; Под. ред. Е.С. Полат.- М.: Издательский центр «Академия», 2004.- 416 с.

2. http://www.it-study.ru

3. http://elearning.it.ru/pades/do_faq.html

4. http://www.specialist.ru/eLearning

К содержанию номера журнала: Вестник КАСУ №1 - 2005

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