"The role of distance electronic technologies in education
for sustainable development of remote areas "
In order to achieve sustainable development in remote areas it is highly important to train young specialists and to keep them in their workplaces. The principal feature of remote regions of the Russian Federation is physical remoteness of a large number of potential students from major university centers. It makes a distance education system especially relevant and important for educational process.
Provided significant financial resources and strong demand for specialists in various fields of knowledge remote regions are also experiencing significant lack of higher education teachers. At the same time teacher training can be carried out more efficiently in large university centers of the central part of Russia. Therefore regions cooperation with leading universities is a very urgent and important task and it is likely to one of the most viable alternatives to the drain of young people from regions.
According to experience of many years and opinion polls conducted by the UNESCO Chair "Distance Education in Engineering” an applicant who goes to the central part of Russia returns home very rarely (less than 30% of cases) while in most cases an opportunity to study in a place of residence allows to keep young specialists in regions. In addition, there is a significant demand for training, professional development and a second on-job higher education.
The experience gained during the existence of various forms of distance and full-time distance learning at State University of Aerospace Instrumentation (SUAI) demonstrates a particular importance of well-prepared teaching aids, textbooks, projects and exam questions, availability of rapid region-university communication, existence of a particular material and technological resources in regions, high level of teacher training, practice-oriented term and graduation projects.
To meet all these requirements SUAI actively applies new technologies, presentation and multimedia equipment and the Internet. There have been researched various information technologies and systems for implementation of distance learning at the University. Microsoft PowerPoint – a software for creating and demonstrating presentations – is used as the main tool for e-learning courses creation. To manage training and testing course management system Moodle is applied. Office Communications Server 2007 is applied for organization of online communication.
Distance training courses have been developed and tested by the UNESCO Chair of SUAI. The Chair has gained a valuable experience of complex distance education by getting a lot of students’ positive feedback, useful remarks and recommendations that have significantly improved the educational process. The quality of graduation projects and employers references given to specialists who completed a program of distance education and full-time distance learning demonstrate high effectiveness and expediency of such forms of higher education.
Gained by UNESCO Chair of SUAI experience in the field of distance and full-time/distance education allows to say with confidence about the demand among students and efficiency of full-time distance learning, which allows, in contrast to the traditional distance learning, to create a learning environment compactly living in a certain university students society. The value of this form of mutual learning is difficult to overestimate. It allows students in the classical university gain the skills of teamwork, co- solving tasks, learn in the process of interpersonal communication competently and clearly articulate the task , to argue their decisions and articulate their comments and suggestions on solutions offered by other students. Compared with the conventional distance learning, full-time distance learning form requires high material costs to the university and extra effort and mobility of teachers. However, it also provides significant benefits not only the student, as mentioned above, but also to a teacher, giving him the opportunity to get acquainted with the real problems that arise during the course.