Статья 'Unfavorable epidemiological situation as an intensifier of digitalization of higher education' - журнал 'Pedagogy and education' - NotaBene.ru
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Unfavorable epidemiological situation as an intensifier of digitalization of higher education / Неблагоприятная эпидемиологическая обстановка как интенсификатор цифровизации высшего образования

Компанеева Людмила Геннадьевна

ORCID: 0000-0001-8328-013X

кандидат педагогических наук

доцент, кафедра лингвистики и межкультурной коммуникации, Волгоградский институт управления - филиал РАНХиГС

400078, Россия, Волгоградская область, г. Волгоград, ул. Герцена, 10, ауд. 407

Kompaneeva Liudmila Gennadievna

PhD in Pedagogy

Associate Professor, Department of Linguistics and intercultural communication, Volgograd Institute of Management – branch of RANEPA

400078, Russia, Volgograd region, Volgograd, Herzen str., 10, room 407

kompaneyeva@mail.ru
Другие публикации этого автора
 

 
Гуляева Евгения Вячеславовна

ORCID: 0000-0003-1605-8576

кандидат филологических наук

доцент, заведующий кафедрой лингвистики и межкультурной коммуникации, Волгоградский институт управления - филиал РАНХиГС

400078, Россия, Волгоградская область, г. Волгоград, ул. Герцена, 10, ауд. 407

Gulyaeva Evgeniya Vyacheslavovna

PhD in Philology

Associate Professor, Head of the Department of Linguistics and intercultural communication, Volgograd Institute of Management – branch of RANEPA

400078, Russia, Volgograd region, Volgograd, Herzen str., 10, room 407

guevgenia@yandex.ru
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Гавриш Алеся Дмитриевна

ORCID: 0000-0002-4791-5852

кандидат филологических наук

старший преподаватель кафедры лингвистики и межкультурной коммуникации, Волгоградский институт управления ‒ филиал РАНХиГС, г. Волгоград

400078, Россия, Волгоградская область, г. Волгоград, ул. Герцена, 10, ауд. 407

Gavrish Alesya Dmitrievna

PhD in Philology

Senior Lecturer, Department of Linguistics and intercultural communication, Volgograd Institute of Management – branch of RANEPA, Volgograd

400078, Russia, Volgograd region, Volgograd, Herzen str., 10, room 407

prostozachem@mail.ru
Другие публикации этого автора
 

 
Платонова Дарья Олеговна

ORCID: 0000-0002-8562-2970

кандидат филологических наук

доцент, кафедра лингвистики и межкультурной коммуникации, Волгоградский институт управления - филиал РАНХиГС

400078, Россия, Волгоградская область, г. Волгоград, ул. Герцена, 10, ауд. 407

Platonova Daria Olegovna

PhD in Philology

Associate Professor, Department of Linguistics and intercultural communication, Volgograd Institute of Management – branch of RANEPA

400078, Russia, Volgograd region, Volgograd, Herzen str., 10, room 407

danyush7777@yandex.ru

DOI:

10.7256/2454-0676.2023.3.43503

EDN:

SANQOR

Дата направления статьи в редакцию:

29-06-2023


Дата публикации:

06-07-2023


Аннотация: Актуальность статьи определяется необходимостью анализа изменений, произошедших в высших учебных заведениях во время и после пандемии коронавируса в контексте использования цифровых технологий. В рамках данного исследования мы провели контент-анализ веб-сайтов и учебных программ волгоградских вузов и анкетный опрос студентов с целью выявления преимуществ и недостатков использования цифровых технологий и электронного обучения в современных условиях. Цифровизация уже давно начала внедряться в процесс управления высшими учебными заведениями, однако, за последние годы произошли глобальные изменения в онлайн-обучении, что подтверждают результаты нашего исследования. 70-80% самостоятельной работы студентов высших учебных заведений переведено в электронный формат, аудиторная нагрузка заменена онлайн-уроками, меняются также и методы преподавания: к примеру, увеличивается частота использования т.н. смешанного обучения. Результаты нашего исследования заставляют задуматься о чрезмерном увлечении электронным обучением, возможностях и рисках его использования. Цифровизация образования вносит значительные изменения в традиционное понимание роли преподавателя и студента в процессе обучения, что требует соответствующей адаптации к новым реалиям. Цифровизация также приводит к переменам в управлении организациями и к введению в образовательный процесс новых участников. Наши выводы указывают на необходимость поддержки профессорско-преподавательского состава в области методологической и технической помощи, поскольку процесс цифровой трансформации высших учебных заведений необратим, а его интенсивность продолжает расти.


Ключевые слова:

цифровая образовательная среда, технологии дистанционного обучения, высшие учебные заведения, массовые открытые онлайн-курсы, цифровая грамотность преподавателей, электронное обучение, цифровые навыки, РАНХиГС, платформа открытого образования, социализированность студентов

Abstract: The relevance of the article is determined by the need to analyze the changes that occurred in higher education institutions in the area of the use of digital technology during and after the pandemic. Within the framework of this research, we conducted a content-analysis of the websites and curricula of Volgograd higher education institutions and a questionnaire survey of students in order to identify the advantages and disadvantages of the use of digital technology and e-learning in the modern context. Digitalization came into the process of the management of higher education institutions long ago, however, rapid changes in e-learning have occurred in the last two years, which was confirmed in the results of our study. 70-80% of students' independent work was transferred to electronic form, the classroom workload is replaced with online lessons, the teaching methods change: the use of mixed learning as well as blended and flipped learning increases. The results of the study make us think about the excessive enthusiasm for e-learning, possibilities and risks of its use. Digital education brings significant changes in the role of professors and students in the process of learning, which requires appropriate adaptation and causes changes in the management of the organizations and the introduction of new actors in the educational process. At the institutional level, our conclusions indicate the need to support the academic staff in the area of methodological and technical assistance since the process of digital transformation of higher education institutions is irreversible and its intensiveness continues to grow.


Keywords:

digital educational environment, distance learning technologies, higher education institutions, massive open online courses, digital literacy of the teaching staff, e-learning, digital skills, RANEPA, Open Education Platform, socialization of students

Introduction

Accelerated by the pandemic, the digital future becomes a reality increasingly faster. The events associated with COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 virus) showed how much important digital technology was in case of a rapid change in the common functioning processes of society. The digital society, society of the future considered in recent history, is deemed to be a result of the implementation of the concept of information society, however, its key feature is not information itself but the electronic digital way to store and disseminate it and the electronic digital mediation of any social relations [1].

The development of digitalization transforms all areas of activities of human society including education. In the course of education enhancement, digital technology plays an increasingly important role, contributing to education modernization and development and training of experts possessing the required digital skills. The creation and introduction of the digital educational environment in educational institutions as well as the implementation of the digital transformation of the educational system are supported at the state level and organized within the framework of the Federal Project «Digital Educational Environment».

The introduction of digital technology, the emergence of the digital educational environment, digital tools and digital footprints determine the development of digital education [2]. Digital education should be understood as a process of organization of the interaction between educators and students while moving from the goal to the result in the digital educational environment; its main means are digital technology, digital tools and digital footprints as results of learning and professional activities.

The legal basis for the initiation and implementation of digitalization in the area of education in the Russian Federation is as follows:

1) Federal Law №273-FZ of December 29, 2012 «On Education in the Russian Federation» enshrining the right of educational organizations to apply various digital learning technologies in their activities.

2) Program «Digital Economy of the Russian Federation», in accordance with which the digital educational environment must be created by 2024, ensuring high quality and accessibility of education.

3) The State Program of the Russian Federation «Education Development» for 2018-2025, which provides for the achievement of high quality and accessibility of education and application of distance technologies.

During the COVID-2019 pandemic, the educational system and the educational process itself underwent significant changes, there was a massive, forced transition of educational institutions to the distance mode of work, and consequently, many countries actually launched an unexpected large-scale experiment for education digitalization, its positive results are likely to be used further in the system. All educational institutions shifted to the widespread and, more importantly, real application of distance and digital learning technologies. The teaching staff of higher education institutions mastered and adapted the available services provided by technical developers of distance learning technologies and filled them with new educational content within a short period of time. The crisis provoked by the epidemic caused the rapid introduction of innovations in higher education institutions, they would take years at another time, overcoming administrative obstacles and personnel resistance.

On the basis of the observation of modern trends in education, the World Economic Forum predicted the following possible changes in the education area early in the pandemic: 1) amazing local innovations will take place in the course of forced pedagogical experiments (the traditional classroom education will be supplemented with new methods – from live broadcasts to experiments with virtual reality); 2) the partnership between the private and the state educational sectors will grow (various parties interested in the further use of digital technology, from publishers and television to providers of technology and telecommunications networks, will become more active); 3) the digital inequality will increase (the quality of education will mainly depend on access to digital technology) [3].

Rave reviews of the impact of the accelerated transition to digital education during the pandemic and the possibility of applying its components in the process of higher education raise questions about the prospects of the future use of such technology in education. The reasonableness of the study conducted within the stated topic is determined by the need to evaluate the changes in the use of digital technology and online learning, which are due to the pandemic challenges, directly in the educational process and resolve the issue of the possibility of its further application in terms of the modern digital educational environment.

Material and methods

The purpose of our study is the SWOT-analysis (the analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) of applying digital technology of learning and e-learning in the educational process in the higher school performed on the basis of the data obtained as a result of the forced accelerated transition to distance forms of work and e-learning in the period of the pandemic.

It is necessary to fulfill the following objectives:

– to conduct a content analysis of the websites of three leading higher education institutions of Volgograd Region to consider the functioning of the digital educational environment of these institutions

– to consider the content of the operating programs in humanities in these higher education institutions for 2023 and evaluate the occurring changes in comparison with our similar study in 2019

– to identify the advantages and disadvantages, possibilities and threats of the use of distance technologies and e-learning in the higher school;

– to assess the prospects of application and the peculiarities of development of e-learning components and online courses in terms of the modern digital educational environment.

The methodological basis of the study is the principles of the systemic and structural-functional approaches.

The study was conducted in February and March 2023. To evaluate the changes that have occurred in the transformation of the social readiness to use components of digital education, we analyzed the websites of three leading higher education institutions of Volgograd Region: Volgograd Institute of Management – branch of RANEPA (Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration), Volgograd State Socio-Pedagogical University and Volgograd State University, in order to consider the operation of the digital educational environment of the abovementioned educational institutions.

We also conducted a content analysis of 44 curricula of bachelor's and specialist's full-time humanities programs, such as Public Administration, Management, Human Resource Management, Economics, Law, Psychology, Social Work, History, Elementary Education, Economics, Foreign Languages of these higher education institutions for the academic year 2022/2023 and evaluated the changes that occurred, in comparison with our similar study of 2019 dedicated to the readiness of Volgograd higher education institutions to function in the digital society [4].

The current situation with the use of digital technology and e-learning components in the educational process was evaluated by means of an anonymous survey of students. We can add that the participation of respondents in the survey was voluntary, and we ensured the anonymity of personal data of all respondents. The questionnaire survey involved 450 persons, random first to fourth year students of the three leading higher education institutions of Volgograd mentioned above. The participants consisted of full-time students whose major subjects were as follows: management (18%), humanities (11,5%), law (26%), economics (17%), philology (15,5%) and sociology (12%).

The questionnaire included 26 questions assessing the availability and use of digital gadgets in the personal and academic life of the students (4); the use of digital technology and e-learning by professors in the educational process during the long period of distance learning (4); the degree of change in the presentation of material during the quarantine measures in the spring of 2023 in comparison with the previous period of distance learning (3) and the use of new forms of work mastered by professors during the pandemic in traditional offline learning (15).

Theoretical background

In the light of recent events, the attention of scholars in many countries has been focused on the rapid development of digital education, assessment of the advantages, disadvantages and prospects for e-learning and digital technology, application of their possibilities in the traditional learning process and feasibility of the transition to e-learning [5].

The technical and cognitive skills that make it possible to navigate modern information technology, satisfying personal, educational and professional needs, such as the ability to work with information in the digital environment, the capability of algorithmizing and optimizing own actions, the ability to interact in the digital environment taking into account ethical standards and legal regulation of the digital space, knowledge of the fundamentals of information security at the user level and the capability of protecting digital devices and personal data become a vital necessity for all higher school graduates. The category of digital education as one of the possibilities of increasing the effectiveness of the formation of professional competence of future bachelors, specialists and masters is described in works by A. A. Verbitsky, E. Yu. Levina and S. Grand-Clement [6]; [7]; [8].

The influence of the development and introduction of digital tools and technologies on the educational process is considered by V. N. Minina. The author notes that there are new participants in the group of actors involved in education: developers and owners of educational platforms, software and programming tools, mediators providing services for the adaptation of both tools and technologies themselves to the educational process in higher education institutions and professors and students to new technologies. New actors of the educational process transform usual relations between professors, students and administrations of educational organizations, they are actively involved in decision-making with respect to the content and arrangement of the educational process, partially displacing the academic staff from this area [9].

The influence of advantages and disadvantages of the accelerated transition to digital and online education on the system of higher education is still to be studied, it is the subject of research and discussion of scholars from different countries. For example, the influence of the pandemic on the change in methods of teaching and motivation of students and their readiness to use e-learning were considered in the work by A. Prasetyo [10] and G. Erlam [11], the influence of forced distance learning on the emotional state of students and their academic stress was evaluated by A. Clabaugh and J. F. Duque and N. Selwyn respectively [12];[13].

Critical educational research of digital educational platforms as parts of wider socio-technical assemblages and their performative effects was conducted in works by M. Decuypere [14] and possible positive and negative effects of the pandemic on digital innovations are described in works by O. Zawacki-Richter, Ben Williamson and Rebecca Eynon, L. N. Danilova [15]; [16]; [17]. In their studies, the scholars increasingly often conclude that in terms of full functioning of educational institutions the need for distance learning is significantly reduced (satisfying only some groups of students), while digital technology, on the contrary, must be developed further by intensifying its use in classroom education. Researchers notice that the use of digital educational platforms allows teachers to organize the educational online-process at a convenient time, because there is no need to seek for an empty classroom or to adjust to the university’s schedule. In addition, online educational activities take place in a home environment, comfortable for both student and teacher.

Study and results

Digitalization of higher education means the transformation of the education and management process and routine social practices in the system of higher education due to the introduction of technologies of creation, processing, exchange, and transfer of arrays of information with the use of non-paper media. The conducted analysis of the websites showed that digitalization has been substantially and successfully integrated into the process of management and operation of higher education institutions, almost all management areas are automated: enrollment record, personnel management, curriculum, and schedule development, planning and monitoring of activities, record of students' academic progress and attendance, administrative and economic work, etc. However, the introduction of digital components in the process of education was slow, professors limited themselves mainly to the use of lively presentations while explaining new material.

The mobilization of the academic teaching staff during the pandemic facilitated the use of new forms of work, including digital technology. The analysis of 44 curricula of bachelor's and specialist's humanities programs of the leading Volgograd higher education institutions showed that the curricula and programs of Volgograd State University and Volgograd State Socio-Pedagogical University did not undergo significant changes in comparison with our similar study in 2019 related to the readiness of these higher education institutions for the development of digital skills of students and the use of digital technology in the educational process [4].

Volgograd Institute of Management – branch of RANEPA included some components of e-learning. For example, in the curricula of 6 from 9 specialist's and bachelor's educational programs, there was a change of part of classroom lessons to electronic ones, which are to be uploaded in the distance learning system (on the basis of Moodle – a Learning online platform or course management system) with further automatic check of students' works and record in the general rating. On average, in bachelor's and specialist's programs, 6-8 disciplines are studied with the change of classroom work to work in the institution's distance learning system, which comprises 10% of the total number of the studied disciplines. 100% of all scheduled tests are uploaded and organized on the online platform of the institution, and 80% of the total number of hours of independent work in higher education programs is organized in the form of students' work with materials uploaded in the distance learning system.

The reasonability of this innovation remains debatable, as, first, not all students have a responsible attitude to tasks in electronic form and there are frequent cases of cheating, the Knowledge Assessment in electronic format does not exclude reading answers to questions (for example, by opening several windows on the computer screen). Accordingly, digitalization affected not only the process of education and attestation but also the ways to overcome the supervision of professors. As a result, the qualitative aspect suffers as well: in this case, the level of knowledge goes down, and the assessment of the quality of this knowledge does not correspond to the truth. Second, as there are no online seminars in the schedule, students perceive this activity as independent homework, consequently, they do not consider its fulfillment necessary.

The idea of transferring part of classes to digital form is interesting and relevant, however, we think that it would be reasonable, first, to introduce these seminars in the schedule on the days of independent work of students and, second, not to include online seminars in the first, adaptation term of education.

In regional higher education institutions, professors have to perform by themselves the functions that are new to them: to create courses, upload the corresponding materials in them, compose various and numerous tests and exercises and fill online seminars with educational and methodological content, which can lead to excessive workload of the academic teaching staff, professional burnout and outflow of some employees. The constant contact with students, accessibility, and openness of professors at any time increases their dissatisfaction and nervousness.

The settlement of the issue of reducing the teaching workload and applying online resources of better quality in regional higher education institutions can be facilitated by the use of the possibility of including the ready MOOCs (massive open online courses) developed by leading Russian and foreign universities. For example, the projects «Open Education» and «Modern Digital Educational Environment» (neorusedu.ru) successfully function and develop in the Russian Federation. Over the four years since our similar study [4], the number of courses offered on the platforms has increased significantly, from 345 (Open Education) and 1063 (Modern Digital Educational Environment) in 2019 to 1047 and 1467 in 2023 respectively (Figure 1). All the courses uploaded on these platforms are available for free and without formal requirements for the basic level of education. Those who want to record the completed online course while mastering bachelor's or specialist's educational programs in higher education institutions have a possibility to receive certificates, which is unique for Russia. They should pass the online course control with the identification of the student and the check of the compliance with the completion requirements.

Figure 1. The number of courses offered on the platforms by leading Russian universities.

However, the questionnaire survey showed that, unfortunately, despite the fact that, compared to 2019, the number of students who have tried distance forms of work increased from 37 to 99%, 56% of the respondents are still unaware of major learning platforms such as Coursera, Network University, Open Education, and Modern Educational Environment (67% in 2019 respectively) (Figure 2). 73.2% of those students who have heard of this type of educational services have never used them, and only 19% of them indicated that professors record the completion of courses on these platforms, at the same time, half of them collaborate with the Modern Educational Environment platform.

Figure 2. Number of students who have tried distance forms of work.

Nevertheless, the analysis of the digital educational environment and the survey of students show that 70-80% of independent work of students in all educational institutions is now organized in online form and its results are recorded in the general rating of the students. In the distance learning systems of institutes and universities, it is recommended to upload the following educational and methodological materials: links to textbooks in online library systems, links to articles, regulations, illustrations and other materials in open sources, links to audio and video materials, massive open online courses – MOOCs (with the indication of the topics recommended for study). Therefore, the number of students using components of e-learning increased from 27% in 2019 to 100% in 2023.

Despite some difficulties in the process of e-learning, such as access to the sufficiently high-speed internet (6.5%), insufficient methodological support (14.5%, technical interruptions in the process of material reproduction (14 %), the impossibility to download digital materials (2 %), the technical unreadiness of the digital educational environment of higher education institutions (16.1%) and the increased workload of students (43.5%), in general, 66.7% of the students are satisfied with the process of education, 92% of the first-year students responded that distance and e-learning were certainly better organized in the higher education institution than at school and 54.8% of the respondents were in favor of education with the attendance of the university and the simultaneous use of distance learning technologies.

The involvement of professors in the learning activities of students and their interest in the results of the students' education also increased significantly. While in 2019, only 49% of the respondents stated that the professors familiarize them with how and what applications and information resources of the internet to use during the study of their discipline and only 10% of the professors maintained regular contact with the students, mostly by e-mail, now 88% of the professors familiarize the students with electronic resources and 96% of the professors are ready to advise students (Figure 3), using various sources of communication: messengers WhatsApp and Viber, chats in Moodle and Teams, e-mail, Vkontakte (Russian social network) and other sources, at any time. 97.5% of the student use smartphones and resources of the internet to search for the necessary information directly in the course of seminar lessons, which is considerably higher than the previous indices.

The forced distance learning also affected the change in forms and methods of teaching. 96.4% of the respondents replied that the professors use visual means (presentations, slides, video, interactive posters, etc.) in the process of teaching disciplines, which is twice higher than the previous indices. 77.2% of the students noted that the flipped learning model is used during the lessons, when the professor provides material for independent learning at home, and the material is consolidated in practice in the classroom, 13.6% of them specified that the professors use audio and video lectures made by themselves, which is 10 and 7% higher than the data of the 2019 survey respectively. Unfortunately, almost two-thirds of the respondents have never encountered gamification elements, although this may also be due to the fact that the survey involved students of humanities.

Figure 3. The number of professors using applications and information resources of the internet during the study.

In our opinion, the following factors would have a positive impact on the dynamics of the digitalization of higher education. Firstly, it is additional funding for large universities that would help them to create full-fledged MOOCs or online-courses by specialists, and, accordingly, the emergence of new employees in higher education institutions, such as: digital content methodists, MOOC creators, web designers, editors, and other up-to-date specialists.

Secondly, new and improved proctoring systems are needed. Small institutes that do not have sufficient funding to create their own courses are encouraged to use the possibility of students taking some theoretical courses with elements of proctoring on open educational platforms with the subsequent protection of results in the overall rating.

The third area in need of development is the creation and promotion of digital solutions, providing information on the operational capabilities of available services to ensure a highly effective exchange of experience in the field of creation and development of digital technologies for higher education organizations.

Changes in higher education associated with digitalization should be aimed both at a partial restructuring of the educational process and at changing the role of the teacher in modern conditions. We suggest that each teacher should have not only the knowledge of his subject, but also digital literacy, the ability to develop and apply content using digital technologies. In connection with the above, we believe that we need the support of academic staff in the field of methodological and technical support, increasing the level of its digital skills, since the process of digital transformation of higher education institutions is irreversible and its intensity continues to increase.

Discussion

We can say that there is some ambiguity in the prospects for introducing digital technologies into higher education. The reformatting of fundamentally important elements of education as a result of digitalization is aimed at the speedy and effective achievement of pedagogical goals and inevitably changes the degree of socialization of the pedagogical process itself. In this research we understand socialization as the process and the result of formation of personal traits defined by the status and required by the society [18, p.167]. Socialization of students implies the development of their ability to build relationships with other people, successful learning of values and norms, that are significant in society, and also the creation of a system of value orientations and social attitudes. Pedagogical tasks facing a teacher of higher education cannot be limited just by the simple transfer of specific knowledge. The knowledge itself, especially in the sphere of humanitarian sciences, always implies some basic element of socialization. Even if this knowledge is abstract, it still contains some elements that are directly linked to the functioning of society as a social system. One of the non-obvious threats that the digitization process poses is the loss of subtle meanings and intuitive interpersonal interactions that are important for the student as a future humanitarian specialist. The ongoing natural processes of social non-virtual interaction are unlikely to be replicated with the current digital environment due to a number of objective circumstances.

Also, we can mention some specific reduction of motivation to study as one of the negative consequences of exclusion of a student from the process of alive competitive-centric interaction (or as a result of the reduction of its importance). Motivational mechanisms under conditions of growing digitalization include an increasing number of abstract de-socialized incentives (for example, the introduction of a percentage-based rating system). Competitive interaction «student-student» or «student-teacher» is replaced by another uncompetitive interaction «student-computer/ computer program».

Another potential disadvantage of the increasing digitalization of education may be the inclusion in the traditional hierarchical structure of the «teacher-learner» of new elements-mediators. This often leads to a lowering of the teacher’s authority and to the development of the learner’s excessive confidence in the reliability of the information he has obtained from digital and Internet sources. The computer pushes the authority of the teacher out to the periphery and adds subjectivity to the new participants of digital interactions.

Among other things, modern computer technology includes the so-called artificial intelligence, i. e., the ability of a software system to solve creative problems belonging to a specific subject area [19]. Neural networks, as a form of artificial intelligence implementation, can now be used to produce texts with some axiological component in the humanitarian sphere. For example, it can be made by an online resource called ChatGPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer). Such texts, generated by the neural network, are unique to some extent. Students, using this technology to complete study assignments, force the teacher to play an unusual role of an expert. The teacher is faced with the need to determine the authorship of the work, which in itself is quite difficult and distracts the teacher from the solution of the directly facing him or her pedagogical tasks. It is very likely that such activities of teachers may lead to the fact that eventually the interaction of the 'student-teacher’ will be partially replaced by the interaction of the capabilities of computer technologies, used by the teacher and the capabilities of computer technologies used by the student.

However, the process of digitalization of higher education, despite its contradictions, has several undeniable advantages. First of all, we would like to mention the intensification of the learning process. Students no longer spend their study time searching for paper versions of the information they need, and electronic tools allow to complete tasks quicker and provide students with a relatively simple way to submit them to a teacher for verification. This leads to a more efficient use of study time. In general, the learner’s comprehensive adaptation to the digital environment is manifested in the opportunity to acquire the necessary academic knowledge through its use.

Another advantage of digitalization of the educational process is the possibility of providing quick feedback, which helps the teacher to correct mistakes in the student’s work before the student’s interest in a particular task has decreased. This allows not to split the learning process, but to maintain its continuity.

In addition, one of the positive factors of digitalization is the removal or reduction of subjectivity in the evaluation of the student’s activities. Calculating by computer of points for a student’s test task a priori assumes the absence of assessment of student’s personality.

We would also like to mention the possibility of individualization of the learning process created because of digitalization. In our opinion, this factor will be increasingly important in digitalization. It is possible to evaluate the students’ actions on the educational online platform, to track their reactions, to provide them with information in a convenient and understandable way (for each student individually, considering his individual characteristics). It is also important to reduce the stress and emotional tension that sometimes arise in the learning process.

As for the prospects of implementing the results of our research in theory and in practice, we believe that the issues of digitalization are addressed in our article in such a way that our research may serve as an incentive for a broader discussion. For example, there is already an urgent need to discuss the new subjectivity that is emerging, in particular, among the creators of online training platforms. It is necessary to establish consistent system interaction with new subjects of the learning digitalization process. It is necessary to streamline and structure these interactions, including by conducting new scientific interdisciplinary research. We also believe that there is a reasonable need to periodically re-conduct statistically significant studies with similar goals and objectives since the digital environment is dynamically changing. Predictive data on the digitalization process as a whole is scarce, so it is necessary to study this process in order to more accurately determine the vector of development of the digital educational environment.

The study also revealed the actual manifestations of digitalization of the higher education system based on the analysis of actual pedagogical processes in Volgograd universities at the time of the coronavirus pandemic and after it. The necessity of monitoring the digitalization process and the need for its intensification and adaptation to the conditions dictated by a fairly rapidly changing large-scale digital environment was shown. The necessity of creating systems for effective control of students ' performance of tasks is revealed. Thus, we believe that studying the problems of the digital educational environment is a promising area of scientific activity.

Conclusion

This study has highlighted the experiences and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the development of digital higher education. The analysis of the digital educational environment of Volgograd higher education institutions showed that the process of management and operation of higher education institutions is completely digitalized. However, the creation of digital tools and the use of new forms and methods of teaching requires the involvement of new actors in the operation of educational institutions and, consequently, the development of new relations.

During the pandemic, the participants of the educational process in higher education institutions could evaluate all the advantages of digital education in practice: the individual approach and the individual trajectory of student learning; optimal organization of students' independent work, the possibility for students to study at any place and any time convenient for them; extensive use of distance technologies; the possibility for professors to get free of routine work and proceed with the development of educational and methodological support.

The significant involvement of professors in students' problems, their readiness for interaction with students to achieve the common goal, the change in the forms and methods of work: the use of creative tasks, mixed learning and the flipped learning model can be considered a positive effect of the pandemic. Particular methods, forms and resources applied during the pandemic undoubtedly become a stable component of teaching methods for all academic disciplines as they are very effective, cost-effective, and generally available. Using digital technology and cloud platforms, professors make the student learning process more engaging and facilitate their «deep immersion» in the subject matter, guide students through their learning process by providing support and mentoring.

However, the conducted study revealed also some problems of the accelerated and massive transition to e-learning, these are difficulties of the academic teaching staff in organizing digital learning, insufficiently adequate assessment of knowledge and especially abilities of students, excessive formalization, which reduces the possibilities for creative activities, increased workload of both students and professors, immoderate enthusiasm for e-learning and the withdrawal of part of the classroom workload to electronic form.

The settlement of these problems can be facilitated by additional funding of large universities for the creation of full-fledged MOOCs (massive open online courses) by experts including a team of web designers, methodologists, editors, operators, and other experts. For small institutions that do not have enough funding to create their own courses, it is recommended to use the possibility for students to take some theoretical courses with proctoring elements on open educational platforms with the subsequent record of the results in the general rating.

The use by professors of their own digital resources increased several times during the pandemic, however, this process requires thorough development of the tasks that are to be fulfilled in online classes and compensate for the lack of direct communication with students, the maximum variety of activities in the lessons, so that the process of teaching the subject would not be a boring routine. The professionalism of professors themselves as the holders of modern knowledge and skills which they pass on to students remains an essential factor of the effectiveness of the educational process.

Undoubtedly, the world's largest practical experiment in the introduction of distance forms of work and digital technology, which took place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, brought many positive aspects to the system of higher education, facilitated the increased digital literacy of the academic teaching staff, and changed the view of society on digital education. To remain competitive in the new academic environment, professors will have to continue mastering the technologies of using digital resources and tools of interaction with students in an online format, and the management of higher education institutions – finding new forms of the educational process and implementing them.

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Представленная на рассмотрение статья «Неблагоприятная эпидемиологическая обстановка как интенсификатор цифровизации высшего образования», предлагаемая к публикации в журнале «Педагогика и просвещение» на английском языке, несомненно, является актуальной, ввиду обращения автора к проблематике цифровизации в сфере обучения. Данный процесс начался давно, однако, недоверие к дистанционным технологиям обучения, неготовность обучающихся, педагогов переходить в онлайн среду тормозила данный процесс в нашей стране. Отметим, что глобальная пандемия 2019 года явилась фасилитатором, переведя как работу для трудоспособного населения, так и обучение для школьников, студентов и воспитанников детских садов в дистанционную среду. В тот момент времени педагогам пришлось осваивать различные технологии дистанционного и электронного обучения, выбирать новые методы, приемы обучения и переосмыслить сущность учебного занятия. Отметим, что часть аудитории после окончания ограничительных мер перешла или в гибридный формат занятий или осталась в дистанционном формате, ввиду удобства и экономии свободного времени.
Данная статья посвящена вопросу цифровизации сферы образования, особенностей создания цифровой образовательной среды, актуализации правовой среды и готовности преподавательского состава к применению дистанционных и электронных технологий обучения.
Цель исследования заключается в проведении SWOT-анализа применения цифровых технологий обучения и e-learning в образовательном процессе в высшей школе, выполненный на основе данных, полученных в результате вынужденного ускоренного перехода на дистанционные формы обучения.
Методологической основой исследования являются принципы системного и структурно-функционального подходов.
Практическим материалом исследования явились анализ сайтов высших учебных заведений и учебные планы по гуманитарным специальностям, а также анкетирование.
Статья является новаторской, одной из первых в российской педагогике, посвященной исследованию подобной тематики в 21 веке. В статье представлена методология исследования, выбор которой вполне адекватен целям и задачам работы. Все теоретические измышления автора подкреплены практическим материалом. Данная работа выполнена профессионально, с соблюдением основных канонов научного исследования. Исследование выполнено в русле современных научных подходов, работа состоит из введения, содержащего постановку проблемы, основной части, традиционно начинающуюся с обзора теоретических источников и научных направлений, исследовательскую и заключительную, в которой представлены выводы, полученные автором. Отметим, что в вводной части слишком скудно представлен обзор разработанности проблематики в науке. Выводы, представленные автором, не отображают проведенной работы и не подводят итога исследования и его дальнейших перспектив.
Библиография статьи насчитывает 20 источников, среди которых теоретические работы как на русском, так и на иностранном языках. Отметим нарушение общепринятого библиографического порядка выстраивания литературы. В общем и целом, следует отметить, что статья написана простым, понятным для читателя языком. Часть материала представлены в виде диаграмм, что облегчает понимание текста читателем. Опечатки, орфографические и синтаксические ошибки, неточности в тексте работы не обнаружены. Высказанные замечания не являются существенными и не влияют на общее положительное впечатление от рецензируемой работы. Работа является новаторской, представляющей авторское видение решения рассматриваемого вопроса и может иметь логическое продолжение в дальнейших исследованиях. Практическая значимость определяется возможностью использовать представленные наработки в дальнейших тематических исследованиях. Результаты работы могут быть использованы в ходе преподавания на специализированных факультетах. Статья, несомненно, будет полезна широкому кругу лиц, педагогам, магистрантам и аспирантам профильных вузов. Статья «Неблагоприятная эпидемиологическая обстановка как интенсификатор цифровизации высшего образования» может быть рекомендована к публикации в научном журнале.
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