Distance learning
students’ perspective


Zaborova E.N.

Dr. Sci. (Soc.), Prof., Ural State University of Economics, Ekaterinburg, Russia ezaborova@yandex.ru

Glazkova I.G.

Cand. Sci. (Soc.), Assoc. Prof., Ural State University of Economics, Ekaterinburg, Russia glazir@mail.ru

Markova T.L.

Cand. Sci. (Soc.), Assoc. Prof., Ural State University of Economics, Ekaterinburg, Russia tmark@mail.ru

ID of the Article: 6566


For citation:

Zaborova E.N., Glazkova I.G., Markova T.L. Distance learning: students’ perspective. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2017. No 2. P. 131-139




Abstract

Distance learning has become the fastest growing segment of higher education. Numerous recent studies report that the development of digital information and communication technologies enable distance online education to compete successfully with the traditional face-to-face pattern of higher education. Despite this, significant differences still exist in the way the online distance learning is perceived. The article raises critical distance learning issues from the principal social actors’ perspective – the faculty, University management and students. As each of these groups has its own specific interests and multiple dimensions, only their in-depth understanding can result in a balanced assessment of distance learning quality. The article mainly explores the students’ perceptions as their positive or negative attitudes make a significant impact on learning satisfaction and retention rates. The authors present the findings of the students’ survey conducted at the Ural State University of Economics and the Ural Federal University in Yekaterinburg. The survey findings show that online students make up a distinct social group. We found that students overall positively assess their distance learning experiences. Their motivation for on-line learning is dominated by such factors as possibility to combine work and studies, time and place flexibility, tuition fees. Yet, the students do not attach much importance to distance learning quality. The greatest concerns are about relevant teaching practices and communication patterns. So, distance learning satisfaction greatly depends on the faculty ability to integrate ICT in the course design and delivery, as well as establish effective interactions among all online course participants. The findings support the prediction about higher quality of education in the traditional face-to-face pattern. These can be of use for the faculty, university administrators and other tertiary education stakeholders in designing strategies to enhance distance learning standards.


Keywords
higher education; distance learning; information and communication technologies; quality of education; motivation factors; students’ perspective; faculty

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Content No 2, 2017