Methods and resources for increasing the efficiency of distance learning in a university environment
Purpose of the article Alongside the traditions that universities had in the field of e-learning, the global situation caused by the pandemic necessitated the transition to a mixed, or at certain stages, complete distance learning. This identified both a need for a review of existing resources used so far as a side tool in this process, and the introduction and use of entirely new directions and environments to compensate for the lack of direct contact, which is of utmost importance for achieving the set objectives. The article examines the possibilities provided by different types of Learning management systems (LMS) – paid for and open source, their advantages and disadvantages, in the context of their combined use with synchronous communication applications. In addition, the consumer attitudes, expectations and satisfaction with the software tools for e-learning used during distance learning in combination with the respective LMS are considered and analyzed.
Methodology/methods Based on a preliminary study, a target group was determined, to constitute a representative sample including the main participants in the educational process of higher education - teachers and students. Through the use of quantitative methods, the results of the conducted research are analyzed, synthesized and summarized, on the basis of which the optimal possibilities for the combined use of LMS and synchronous applications for online communication are determined.
Scientific aim To create a framework to assist universities and higher education institutions in the processes of identifying opportunities and ways in which, through the use of the additional benefits provided by the various online tools and channels for online communication and sharing, alone or as ancillary tools along with the introduced Learning management systems, to further develop their concepts related to alternative forms of traditional in-person learning.
Findings Based on a literature review relating to the possibilities and directions of application of LMS in higher education, as well as the degree of use of their specialized tools, the main functions that are widely used in the educational process are identified. On this basis, the directions, in which their use, in combination with the tools of synchronous applications for real-time online communication, will bring maximum benefits in conducting a distance form of traditional activities and processes in a university environment, are identified.
Conclusions LMS with their development and improvement in recent years are increasingly used in academic fields. Their easy integration with the other systems at the institutions, the maintained information system for participants in the educational processes and rich instrumental make them a preferred tool used in the processes of blended, online or full distance learning. In order to reap the benefits of these new ways of conducting traditional activities, higher education institutions need to combine their use with the innovative solutions provided by e-learning software applications. This requires changes in the technological infrastructure needed to ensure the proper functioning of processes in order to maintain positive attitudes on the part of consumers. The integrated approach in the use of synchronous applications for online communication will provide improved resource allocation, personalized online learning, as well as the opportunity to introduce social learning into the overall strategy of the educational process.
Keywords: digitalization, LMS, e-learning, cloud services, innovation, globalization, distance education
JEL Classification: I21, I23
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