Acknowledgement and Development of e-Learning in Bulgaria:Socio-Cultural Perspective Fe-ConE Project Workshop October 11, 2007 Lithuania Nevena Staevsky
Contemporary setting and challenges • changes in social and economical conditions worldwideforce new needs upon the BG education • “knowledge society of the future” • continuous professional development, • frequent retraining and obtaining new competences, • mastering new technologies, • lifelong learning • the European Union and Bulgaria • improved understanding of the role of the e-learning in the development of the information society
Common Opinion of Bulgarian e-Learning • meets the requirements for more individual and flexible way of learning • introduces a number of attractive features- • convenient time and space-independent manner • enhance the classroom setting, taking advantage of new content and delivery technologies to enable learning • todo: adjustment of the curricula and teaching programs to the methods and options of e-learning, proper training of the teaching staff, new roles as managers, admins, tutors, motivators • creating/using untested VLEs to ensure a courseware to both on-campus and off-campus students; VLEs’ impact on improving educational programs is not evaluated
Pedagogical models • three pedagogical models of didactic approaches: "pedagogy-neutral“, "pedagogy-standard“, "pedagogy-driven“ • problems: • current e-learning tools and technologies are "pedagogy-neutral"(no learning requirements) • hundreds of pedagogical strategies • learning is different from just consuming learning content; one pedagogical model/strategy is not enough for e-learning researches and standardization • Bulgarian e-learning players understand the above problems • e-learning educational paradigm has to adequately reflect the well-known didactic principles of the traditional learning, but at the same time to implement some specific characteristics of its own.
Didactic principles of e-learning e-learning pedagogical technology is based on VLTs and a wide use of ICT • communication(openness of the communication forms and tools) • interactivity(indirect interactions student-student, student-teacher) • control(strict regulation and management of the activities using ICT) • flexibility(choice of time and place for learning) • practical orientationof the content and the activities • case studies(the interaction during the learning process has dialogical and case- oriented nature, due to virtual simulators and communication) • problem-oriented contentanddialogical interactionin the learning process • module-block principlein the edu programs and the learning activities
National programmes and policies- general education The policy of education is defined by Bulgarian National Programme “Modernization of Education” (2004) and the National Employment Action Plan (2005). General Education • Modifications of the basic laws regulating the system of higher education are made. • The basic state educational requirements in higher education are developed. They ensure standards for quality of higher education. • National Strategy and Action Plan for Introducing ICT in Bulgarian schools are introduced. • The Council of Ministers accepted the conditions for social support of students to access the educational system.
Initiatives in secondary education “National Educational Portal”project started in2006-first crucial step towards the implementation of e-learning technologies in Bulgarian schools free access to the learning content 21e-learning courses for are approved by the ME and published e-learning content is enriched by the students’ works in national IT competitions and Olympiads future- the teachers will have a possibility to develop and publish e-learning content of their own 01 2007 the II stage of the development of broadband Internet access for the school
National programmes and policies- vocational education • the List of Professions in VET is updated in accordance to the labour market needs. In 2003 it contained 198professions, at present their number is 210 • new state educational requirements for acquisition of professional qualification- developed; 45 state educational requirements are created and published, the publishing of the next 10 is forthcoming • The structure of training plans for vocational high schools has changed; new training plans are developed for acquisition of the I, II and III degree of professional qualification; the number of training hours in computing, software and foreign languages has increased • National Strategy and Action Plan for further training during 2005-2010 was developed accepted by the Council of Ministers • a new unit with the National Agency for Vocational Education and Training has been established to control the quality of training EU funds and mainly the PHARE programme pre-accession funds- basic factor for modernization of the educ system and support the VET activities for adults.
National programmes and policies- higher education • the Law of Higher Education has been modified and supplemented • new ordinances have been developed and published in 2005. They are relevant to issued diplomas and documents by higher schools, credit accumulation and transfer system, and organization of Distance Education at universities • the i-University programme in 2004 provided equipment for over 100 computer labs for e-learning at unis and research institutions. • The initiative “Bulgarian Virtual University” was started- the home for the virtual information center for Ph.D. students, virtual libraries, etc. National competition for e-courses in all areas of higher education. At present about 70% of the universities have e-learning environments with e-learning courses to support full-time tuition or for distance learning
National programmes and policies- higher education 2 In 2005/2006 a master program in e-learning has been started in University of Sofia. This program will provide highly qualified young experts, which will actively participate in development and application of e-learning content.
Socio-cultural obstacles • finances- The main source of financing is the national budget. The financial support from the business society is quite limited. The insufficient investments effect negatively onto the quality of eLearning • technical equipment-needs for a better technical infrastructure to stimulate the development of eLearning. Initiatives are undertaken for improving and widening the computer equipment, networks and Internet connections; but still there is a lot to be achieved • publicity- eLearning is not enough publicly advertised. Many people in Bulgaria are not fully aware of it, because the relevant information is spread mostly amongst the well-educated intellectual society. Thus, eLearning stays quite unreachable and not assimilable for risky learner groups as unemployed, elderly, disabled, minorities, etc. • eLearning software- Linguistic and cultural inappropriateness of much of the educational software available. Lately, there have been lots of Bg researches in the field of VLE, LMS, eLearning platforms and assessment tools, etc. In manyBg universities enthusiastic professors and students designed their own VLEs, which provided interface in Bg as well.But in most cases the resulting software tools are yet in an experimental or prototype stage. Practically, the eLearning in Bulgaria uses some open sources or own simple platforms that have some limitations in different directions: operation with content, resources and tools, management of activities and services to different groups of learners, applying various pedagogical strategies, etc. • professionalism of staff- There is a lack of trainers, who have been specially trained in e-learning in Bulgaria. Professional staff is definitely insufficient • resistance by the authorities and also by teachers to the loss of control that they may experience through the introduction of these technologies into their teaching • conflict with traditional ways of transmitting and receiving information
Socio-cultural accelerators • the admission of Bulgaria to membership in the EU • official recognition, accreditation and validation- 2004 the model of distance education was legally implemented in the Bulgarian Educational System. eLearning is really acknowledged by the government. eLearning courses and programs could receive official accreditation and validation by certificates and diplomas. • development of theICT- eLearning is becoming more accessible and natural • progress in intercultural context- the growing importance of intercultural embeddedness in the sphere of eLearning has a positive influence on its dissemination in Bulgaria • taking part in international projects- a favorable effect on the eLearning in the country. Training institutions, as schools, high schools, professional schools, universities, and centres for VET, are participating actively in LEONARDO DA VINCI and SOCRATES programmes. The transnational cooperation and accumulated experience are used to enhance the quality, to promote the innovations, and to share the good professional practices and systems in Europe. The higher schools participate in a great number of projects with the 6TH FRAMEWORK PROGRAMM. Experience exchange between senior Bulgarian specialists in the educational field is realized by ARION programme. In the recent years, serious attention is drawn on learning how to develop projects in order to apply for resources from the European structure funds.