Volume:3, Issue: 2

Dec. 1, 2011

Distance Education within a Municipal Institution of Supplementary Professional Education of Teachers
Karastelina, S.V. [about] , Shuvalova, S.O. [about]

DESCRIPTORS: distance education, continuous teachers’ education, in-service training, support program, distance support of methodological services.
SYNOPSIS: The authors give a brief introduction to the problems of continuous teachers’ education in modern Russia, formulate the necessity of distance forms of learning in this sphere and present their own working model of in-service training based on distance education within the city of Rybinsk in Yaroslavl region.

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Teachers’ continuous education and in-service training in Russia is systematically challenged by the idea that modern educators have become active creators of their own ‘educational routes,’ as well as by the necessity to consider various concepts and approaches, and the situation of growing independence and mobility of today’s specialists. Creating a new model of Russian education for modern economics requires not only adaptation of teachers to ongoing changes in the process of education but also an immediate readiness to realize innovations as well. Cardinal renewal of post-diploma education presupposes deepening of its individual professional orientation and changes in values and values’ systems.

The concept of modern continuous education considers the unity of three types of education: formal, non-formal and informal. During one’s lifetime the focus shifts from one type to another, however, all of them remain interconnected and pursuing the same goals.

In the post-diploma period non-formal and informal education are the most radical since they allow to minimize the gap between theoretical knowledge of a subject matter and pedagogy received at the university and practical activities of a teacher; it also provides for new competencies and expansion of professional possibilities, for establishing meaningful links between the level of teacher preparation and required qualifications; learning innovative educational experience and new educational technologies and teaching methods; and finally diagnosing and solving personal professional problems. Modern Russian researcher E.V. Kuzmich1 postulates a number of preferences of using informal education in contrast to formal especially in the situation of market economy:

  • Formal education is oriented towards an abstract model of a student; in contrast, informal is oriented towards consumers’ inquiries, therefore market orientation dominates.
  • Formal education can offer only a limited assortment of services (programs) while informal education can provide an unlimited number of such services.
  • Formal education is rather conservative in the process of realizing programs; informal is distinguished by better flexibility and mobility of educational programs, efficient reaction to expenses and use of a wide range of ideas.

A significant characteristic of supplementary professional education, which cannot be forgotten or neglected, is that a learner is an adult who already possesses psychological, social, and moral maturity, financial independence, certain life experience, and a level of consciousness for responsible self-governing behavior.  He/she is a specialist who already has acquired some practical experience, and this should be considered in building any type of interaction among instructors and learners.

In 2002, our city authorities (Rybinsk in Yaroslavl Region) realized the necessity of improving professional supplementary education and decided to expand the space used by a former “methodological office” and to transform it into a municipal educational institution of supplementary professional education of specialists “Center of Information and Education” (CIE). Since that time the Center has achieved a number of positive results some of which are mentioned below.2 The Center has:

  • developed a number of highly qualified specialists who are able to provide different types of services;
  • worked out and implemented a model of methodological support for any demand coming from local teachers and schools;
  • prepared a number of instructional and pedagogical documents to grant a wide range of direct educational, informational and organizational services to teachers and administrators from local schools;
  • created an information database for different services;
  • developed new financial mechanisms for contractual relationships with different municipal institutions.

In other words, we have every reason to believe that our Center (in its present state) is capable of meeting any educational needs of the various municipal educational institutions and providing them with quality services.

We also believe that informational and communicational technologies, distance forms of education, and social services of Internet can help us to radically improve our methodological services. At our Center we distinguish the following aspects of methodological services that can be expanded only with the help of distance forms of education (table 1).

Different aspects of distance support of methodological services
Table 1

Types of methodological services

Forms of distance support

Informational

- Promoting different events on the institution’s webpage;
- Using e-mail for information delivery;
- Creating and helping professional organizations and societies discuss topical issues using social services of the Internet based on Web 2.0 technologies (e.g., forums, chats, blogs, social networks, wiki, etc.);
- Organizing and carrying out web conferences, educational forums, and open voting on educational problems;
- Delivering information on certain subjects;
- Providing for a web library.

Educational and methodological

- Providing for in-service training to improve professional education within the IntelÓ program “Education for the future” (for this purpose a tutor has been prepared and certified);
- Providing distant training support of the courses of improvement of professional skills;
- Providing for web initiatives: master-classes, projects, and contests;
- Creating educational webinars;
- Preparing and posting recommendations on the institution’s web page.

The idea of starting distant forms of communication in methodological work with schools demanded special preparations and arrangements. For instance, we worked out and realized a support program “Introduction of distance education in an educational practice” with the idea to help administrators and teachers understand how distance education works and how it can be used in a day-to-day practice of an educational institution.

A Program of support is a complex of economic, social and pedagogical, financial and technical, methodological, personnel and organizational measures, aimed at solving concrete problems of adult education. In other words, it is a program to provide aid whenever and wherever it is necessary.

The Program of support is based on the leading principle – “working together.” The main ideas for an interaction of Program participants – clients (educational administrators) and executors (specialists of the methodological service), are taken from the work of O.E. Lebedev et al. They are:

  • choice;
  • initiative;
  • interaction;
  • cooperation;
  • development and success.3  

It is extremely important to help administrators of any educational institution acquire knowledge and skills to build their new organizational culture and in this way to accelerate the development of the institution itself.

The support program mentioned above is oriented towards informational and methodological “escorting” of innovational activities of any educational institution. This will allow such an institution to solve the following organizational and technical issues and implement distance education: creating storage for information resources; developing its inner training programs for the participants; searching for effective means of communication between teachers and students, and finally designing quality control within the field of distance education.

As a result of joint activities between our specialists and school teams we managed to develop a model of distant education together with all the necessary legal documents of how to provide online courses within in-service training of different professional groups of adults and school students.

No doubt, distance education in an information society plays a significant role in the system of post-diploma training as it increases clients’ chances to receive quality educational (including, methodological) services (table 2). 

Comparison of traditional and distance forms of in-service training
Table 2

 

Traditional  forms

Distance forms

Goal

Creation of all necessary conditions to meet the demands of teachers and administrators who need to renew and develop their professional qualifications.

Accessibility

- without discontinuing work;
- with the main work being temporarily discontinued.

- without discontinuing work;
- in any appropriate for the client facility (at home, at work, in the reading hall of the center of education, etc).

Working conditions

Depending on the place and schedule of the institution of in-service training.

Work in a mode which is comfortable for the listener: common surroundings, convenient time, habitual rhythm.

Aspect of interaction

Full-time interaction in an institution of in-service training.

Network interaction.

Possibility of communication

Instructor — listener,
instructor —group,
listener — group.

Instructor — listener,
instructor — group,
listener — group,
listener — listener.

Educational route

In accordance with the program of in-service training.

The listener builds a program in accordance with his/her educational inquiries.

A set of competencies

In accordance with the program realization.

In accordance with the program realization, information and communication competency.

Qualification of a methodologist and a teacher

Methodologist, teacher, tutor, facilitator, moderator, coordinator.

Web methodologist, technology teacher, tutor, facilitator, moderator, and coordinator.

         
Thus, the use of distance education technologies in in-service training of teachers and school administrators allows to:

  • improve the quality of education and raise participants’ motivation by using latest achievements in methodology and didactics of education of adults and new methods of education, which presuppose cognitive activities;
  • significantly decrease expenses for in-service training by excluding travel expenses and receiving training without leaving their work place;4
  • fully satisfy growing educational needs of all types of users, who lack educational training which has been delivered in a traditional form and format;
  • create conditions for ongoing self-education and self-development by providing an open educational space and an independent construction of one’s own “educational route” (taking into account professional needs and acquired competencies and choosing the most acceptable forms to improve professional skills.)

    


1. Kuzmich E.V. Economic role, mechanism of functioning and tendencies of development of informal education of adults [Text]: dissertaion. candidate of pedagogical sciences / E.V. Kuzmich. – St. Petersburg, 2002. – P. 93

2. Program of development of a municipal educational institution of supplementary professional education (improvement of professional skills) of specialists “Center of Information and Education” of the city of Rybinsk for 2009-2011 and perspectives till 2013 [Text]. – Rybinsk, 2009. – 35 p.

3. Lebedev O.E. Organization of internal school control of educational process in conditions of modernization of education [Text]: materials for working out a project “Internal school control of an educational process in the process of modernizing education. Composers: O.E. Lebedev, O.V. Okulova, S.A. Pisareva: St. Petersburg, 2004. – 42 p.

4. Theory and practice of distance education: training appliance for students of higher educational pedagogical establishments / E.S. Polat, M.U. Bukharkina, M.V. Moiseeva; edited by E.S. Polat. Moscow: publishing center “Academy”, 2004. – 416 p.

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