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МАГ/The International Association for the Humanities     ЖУРНАЛ МЕЖДУНАРОДНОЙ АССОЦИАЦИИ ГУМАНИТАРИЕВ | Volume 5, Issue 1 (34), 2016.

Learning Management Systems: The Standards of Present-Day Higher Education

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Learning management systems или системы управления учебным процессом приобретают все большее значение в высшем образовании (см., например). Все больше ВУЗов пользуется поддержкой «технологических» систем как при администрировании учебного процесса, например, зачислении студентов, сдаче/приеме экзаменов и т.д., так и непосредственно при преподавании курсов. Независимо от того, какую систему предпочитает тот или иной университет – Moodle, Blackboard, WebCT, ATutor и др., – использование систем управления учебным процессом составляет неотъемлемую часть высшего образования сегодня, а также говорит о включенности конкретного ВУЗа в стандарты обучения XXI века. Об особенностях использования систем управления учебным процессом редакция “The Bridge-MOCT” попросила рассказать Дэвида Арромбу, специалиста, который 4 года работает специалистом в области e-learning в Университете Райерсон в Торонто.

 

 Learning Management Systems: The Standards of Present-Day Higher Education

Arromba

Photo Credit: David Upham, Ryerson University

Alexander Pershai: Why are learning technologies appear so important in the Higher Education today?

David Arromba: Technology, specifically the Internet, will continually force the university as an institution to adapt. With information so readily available and free on the Internet, imparting knowledge is no longer enough. University students expect more than just information – they want to know what to do with it. Students also expect this information to be easily accessible online. For instance, it is commonplace to post lecture slides and course readings on a learning management system (LMS). Like other media which are now on-demand (e.g. television, newspapers), course materials are expected to be readily available for the students’ convenience.

A.P.: Would you say the teaching style has changed in the past few years?

D.A.: Absolutely. There are several models of teaching today:

  • The traditional “classroom model,” based on in-person lectures and tutorials, is still popular. However, it will become increasingly rare for such classes to be completely offline.
  • Instead, the “blended model” is what will likely be the norm. The blended model uses technology to supplement the classroom experience (or vise-versa). For instance, a discussion board could be used in the LMS to encourage discussion for students who are not comfortable speaking up in the classroom.
  • The “online model” describes an entirely digital course delivery. In these environments, instructors often employ a diverse range of multimedia to engage students. For instance, web conferencing software such as Adobe Connect allows for synchronous communication through streaming audio and video. Asynchronous communication can be done through blogging and discussion boards. Assessments and tests can also be submitted and graded online. The “online model” is central to distance education, though on-campus students often take online courses as well for scheduling reasons.

A.P.: Why does e-learning get priority in many universities across North America?

D.A.: E-learning is a high priority because it offers potential for efficiencies and wider accessibility. By placing less emphasis on the physical infrastructure of the university, more people can be served. For instance, working professionals can upgrade their education online at their own pace from home, as can those who live in remote communities (e.g. First Nations). However, e-learning does require its own “infrastructure:” investments into technologies (e.g. servers), technicians, and front-line support staff will need to grow with the demand.

A.P.: Your point about the accessibility of higher education is important. The culture of accessibility requires the universities to find the way to make sure that all groups of students have equal access to higher education. What does this mean in terms of teaching?

D.A.: In Ontario, universities are now mandated to make web content accessible to students with disabilities. For instance, text content should be in a format that can be read by text-to-speech software for those with visual impairments. Similarly, graphics and video should have accompanying text (e.g. alt text, captions, and transcripts). Instructors will gradually learn to make their content more machine-readable and searchable, which ultimately benefits all students.

A.P.: How are learning technologies related to teaching today? How does instructor’s work change in this regard?

D.A.: Instructors should aim to leverage technology in service to their pedagogy. There are countless tools to choose from: presentation software, social media, learning management systems, even gaming! What remains important is that technology serves the teaching, and not the other way around. Thankfully, e-learning is quite collaborative. So instructors will have support from a diverse team of specialists, including librarians, copyright consultants, and IT support staff. Some instructors may even draw inspiration from student feedback.

David Arromba, Learning Technology Liaison, Office of the Dean, Faculty of Community Services, Ryerson University (Toronto).

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