ACADEMIC MODELS OF EDUCATION SUPPORTED BY INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
It is crucial to use proper technologies to improve learning in the new contexts. Existing solutions need to be carefully assessed from the point of view of their potential in the academic level education.
The present paper has the following main objectives:
• To attempt to classify academic models of education which use information technology.
• To identify models and techniques which can be used to support lifelong learning and continuous education at the tertiary level.
The applied methodology consists in collecting experiences from different types of online courses conducted at our academy and the analysis of results published by other researchers.
The paper consists of three parts. The first part is the analysis of new education challenges. In the second part five education models which extensively use information technology tools are identified. Their essential properties are described from the point of view of new, non-standard environments. The third part focuses on the needs of lifelong learning, and on the integration of informal and formal learning.
The first part of the paper contains the following conclusions. Firstly, it should be observed that nowadays students come to universities with varied levels of preparation – they have completed different schools and academic institutions with varied specializations, or wish to resume education after a longer break. There is a need to adjust details of the study program to meet specific needs of students, so that they can cope better with course material, and reach the desired academic level.
Secondly, it is of prime importance for the society that all individuals seeking to further their education, irrespective of age, gender and social situation, find suitable study options. Lifelong learning should be personalized to cater for different situations and needs.
Thirdly, informal learning is gaining importance in the modern knowledge society. This type of learning should be supported by information techniques and integrated with formal education.
In all these situations the basic requirement is to adjust the didactic process to individual needs of students. This requirement can be fully met only if online means are adopted, at least in some parts of the didactic process.
The following five models have been identified and their properties investigated in order to determine the extent to which they satisfy the needs of new learning situations:
1. Basic model
2. Model applying adaptation and personalization mechanisms
3. Self-study model
4. Social media model
5. Smart learning model
All the above models incorporate modules of gathering and analyzing data related to the learning and teaching processes.
We came to the following conclusion. As a starting point the basic model should be taken and then extended by adding relevant components of the other models. The following tools have been identified to support continuous education and integration of formal and informal learning:
2. Personal learning environments combined with learning management systems
3. Adaption and personalization techniques
4. Internet services supporting self-study
5. Social portals
6. Smart media learning services
Our academy develops, tests and refines its education platforms along the described lines of research.