COMMUNICATIVE AND DIDACTIC ASPECTS OF MAPPING AN INDIVIDUAL STUDY PATHWAY IN ELECTRONIC EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENT

Currently, one can easily state that the major objective of the modern education is to get a person prepared for living in the rapidly changing world with its global-oriented multi-cultural environment. In its essence, global education unites various educational systems and models, based on divergent cultural, religious, philosophical outlooks. Building up a unified educational environment is one of the top priorities for the nearest future. However, this is not an easy task, based on preserving national identity on the one hand, and involving cultural and educational integration on the other. Today’s concept of education means lifelong learning. These processes cause the knowledge-based approach in education to be gradually replaced by competence-based one.

Nowadays we can witness a number of educational processes migrating into the Internet and, consequently, their becoming more transparent and more or less multi-cultural

It is obvious that with the application of electronic educational environment (EEE) the didactic functions of a tutor will be changed; and the whole educational process will become autodidactic. And, before mapping an individual study pathway; one must decide how this individualistic approach will be applied in EEE where there is no immediate communication between students and tutors. When studying via the information technologies, a student is supposed to develop individual learning skills and to get well acquainted with the up-to-date on-line education technologies; which means that the student’s self motivation becomes a more important factor.

A tutor’s role here will be taken by the EEE itself. However; for this purpose it is necessary to select and set the criteria for running individual study process (for instance, a student’s cultural and cognitive profile, consisting of the emotional and activities components).

When a student interacts with it, EEE fulfills several important functions:

  • Informational, i.e. providing access to various kinds of information, both educational and legal.
  • Motivational, i.e. creating and sustaining comfortable environment for the study process, allowing planning and controlling a student’s individual activities, as well as a tutor’s professional ones.

We believe that, in order to fulfill this individualistic approach to education via EEE, it is necessary to introduce several parts (stages) which will identify the best study method for each student. At the first stage of working with EEE, it is reasonable to run a criteria-oriented testing (a set of tests) to identify a student’s cultural-cognitive profile; as well as other basic parameters: motivation, basic knowledge level; information and communication skills, and professional interests. Of course we must take into account the possible interactions between these parameters and their changes and variations in the educational process. Bearing this tendency in mind, it is reasonable to run re-testing periodically in order to correct the selected pathway.

We believe, the received information must contribute to developing an individual study pathway based on the best suitable study technique for each student. Speaking of didactic functions of EEE; we can point out the possibility of the student teaching the system. This may run the following way: the system’s intellectual component processes the data received when analyzing the tests and the student’s feedback after the courses were complete; and corrects the selected study pathway. Then it collects the statistic parameters to form a data base, thus forming a certain set of tendencies. Later, these collected data can be used for personalizing the study process of further students at the earliest stages of mapping their individual pathways, i.e. for adapting the educational content and its forms to the culture-cognitive profile of each student. The EEE smart content is supposed to be formed according to the output rules, adjusted to a student’s culture-cognitive profile.

Of course, the mechanism of mapping individual culture-specific educational pathway of an EEE student can be partially of completely based on tutor guidance.

Also, Individual Study Pathway (ISP) can be mapped and adjusted through recommendation services which will suggest best suitable courses for a student and; if a student decides to take courses outside the recommended range; identify possible pitfalls. Evaluation of task and study materials in the major courses of the education path can be done similarly. Thus, the mastering a course is supposed to follow the path best suitable for a student’s information processing skills. We must also point out that this evaluation method can be applied when assessing both major and outside-the-range courses; thus formulating recommendations for the student on how to develop their competence profile on the basis of the courses provided in the system; as well as doing those in free access. Summing it up, implementing the individual study pathway will produce a specialist’s competences profile.

Developing and implementing ISP is a complex process that includes the following components:

  1. Forming an individual information space.
  2. Personalizing educational resources.
  3. Personalizing educational objectives and finding meats for their achievement.
  4. Adapting educational content and interface in EEE.
  5. Achieving synergy effect through combining individual reflection and self-organization capacities.

Designing ISP is a step-by-step (iterative) procedure where the order of its above-mentioned components must be determined on the basis of a student’s interim achievements. Developing the whole personalization process is supposed to follow two major directions: vertical and horizontal. In its vertical direction; ISP will consist of operations and activities component, representing an algorithm of achieving the education’s objectives. In its horizontal view, ISP represents the “human dimension”; formulating and fulfilling the educational processes within EEE.

As an example of implementing EEE principle in the real-life education process, National Research University “Higher School of Economics” (HSE) has introduced Learning Management System (LMS). Its major objective is to improve the quality of didactical and informational maintenance of the educational process both for the students and tutors; as well as for the department management. Implementation of this educational instrument means the students’ active involvement in the educational process; stimulating constant student-tutor interaction, both on- and off-line. When running LMS, a user’s authentication is essential. A personal set of courses with different access levels is drawn up for each user. LMS provides integration with the unified schedule forming system based on the current study programs; lists of tutors and student, university layout, as well as a student’s status.

HSE

The system automates HSE’s interaction with its major client – a student – throughout their whole university life an after graduating. The platform provides vast opportunities for collecting and analyzing information, effective management, conducting and control of the study process. Based on the universalism principle, LMS allows the following to the tutors: providing the courses materials; managing students’ activities for the discipline and checking their performance (running assessment register, checking their projects); using various communication means for the educational purposes (forums, polls). For a student, LMS is becoming more and more important with each step in their educational process. Besides downloading courses materials from EEE; students are also granted access to corporate students’ e-mail, on-lone credits records and assessment register for each course; providing them with up-to-date information of their current performance and final marks.

As elements contributing to individualizing a student’s study pathway; we can point out their ability to choose the courses from the elective options. It is supposed, that the students choose their options with the objective of forming and enhancing their major discipline competences. When applying for a course; a student accesses the discipline’s page via his/her personal login in LMS. Despite its containing a vast range of tools and components; we cannot claim that currently LMS is an EEE which can provide for an individual study pathway. It is possible that implementing individualistic and competence-based approach; introducing a more “sensitive” interface, purposeful introduction and synchronization of student-tutor interaction; integrating users’ social network profiles and RSS preferences; sending data to the mobile gadgets and other options would contribute to further introducing this system as an important part of the educational process.

 

See more: Mapping an individual study pathway in electronic educational environment

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