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S. Cicevic1, S. Samcovic1, M. Nesic2

1Faculty of Transport and Traffic Engineering (SERBIA)
2University of Nis, Faculty of Medicine (SERBIA)
In response to changing and evolving environment of higher education towards overall economy, online learning is being implemented more frequently, creating new and exciting opportunities for both educational institutions and students. The ultimate question for educational research is how to optimize instructional designs and technology to maximize learning achievements in both face-to-face and online environments. Consequently, developers and deliverers of online learning need more understanding of how students perceive and react to elements of online learning, since their perception and attitudes is critical to motivation and learning. New generations of students have a more fragmented sense of time and reduced attention span, thus, they are usually disappointed and bored with conventional classes. However, students’ attitudes towards online learning are influenced by its perceived advantages and disadvantages.
This study provides data on an initial attempt to integrate online modules in a traditional class, moving toward the model of blended or online instruction. The data for this study are based on students’ experiences taking an online learning unit offered by the Faculty of Transport and Traffic Engineering in Belgrade, at its website.

The results have shown that, over half of the respondents believe that online learning is better than the traditional forms of teaching. It is interesting that 53% of respondents believe that the same time is required for the material to be mastered as in the traditional classes, 31% believe that online learning is faster, while only 16% thought that it is slower. Also more than half of the respondents believe that online material is only partially adjusted to their previous knowledge, as well as, the organization of the course. As main advantage of online learning, they consider reducing waste of time, providing only the necessary information (online units are considerably shorter in length) allowing them to work according to their own pace, and in the last place, they assume that way of learning as more interesting. When discussing the benefits of online instructions, students found that it provides, in the first place, effective learning (53%), followed by individualization of the learning process adapted to their own pace and ability, control upon the results of their work, and finally a full visual interaction and communication (8%). There were no technical problems in the implementation of online course, but some difficulties in communication with teachers reported half of the respondents. Presentation material meets the expectations of 73% students. But also, 77% of the students found that strategies might be implemented to enhance teaching and learning.

This indicates the need for constant upgrading and implementation of new platforms, which might further increase the receptivity of students for online learning. A growing body of research suggests that computer users’ prior experience with technology affects their attitudes. The results may suggest that students with more experience with technology, rate online learning more positively. Although online learning (and various blended approaches that integrate online components into traditional classes) continues to grow rapidly, it still remains at an early stage of development, and requires a lot of work to improve and to create environments where students actively engage with material.