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DISTANCE LEARNING AS INNOVATION IN EDUCATION – CHALLENGES FOR UNIVERSITIES’ MANAGEMENT

T. Vasiljeva

RISEBA University (LATVIA)
The given paper is the summary of comprehensive research in Latvia and Baltic countries presenting the main results on the introduction of this cutting-edge method of studies. The research was done during Y 2013-2016, aiming to explore the students’ and faculty expectations, perception and attitude towards the effectiveness and improvement of distance learning, find out the key-role factors for promotion distance learning study programmes. The author has analysed the situation in various higher education institutions (HEI) in Latvia and in Baltics.

Research methodology: critical analysis of literature sources, quantitative analysis and interpretation of the data gathered by the various surveys from the students and faculty at the Universities, semi-structured interviews and discussions with the faculty and top management. Innovation theory, systems theory and decision-making theory were used as the theoretical framework.

Three main research questions (RQ) were stated during the given research.
RQ 1: What are key-role factors for smooth and prosperous introduction of e-learning platform as technological grounds for distance learning?
RQ2: What are the harmonised standard components of distance learning study course’ curricula that could be recommended as sample?

Considering the video lessons as the extremely essential component of distance learning, the RQ3 aimed to explore the students’ and faculty’ perception and expectations of video lessons.

Practical implications: The research results could be useful for Universities’ top management and stakeholders for improvements in distance learning education quality and for contributing to society and business.