Jitka Brandejsová, Michal Brandejs
the paper for conference ICTE'2006 (09/05—09/07/2006)
Masaryk University has recently been paying special attention to the expansion of e-learning. During the first stage of the process (lasting until 2004), the first steps were taken in the form of first e-learning courses, which were designed by teaching enthusiasts and embedded in special e-learning systems. During that period, the fundamental principles of designing e-learning courses began to surface. In 2004, the decision to develop the applications directly under the University's Information System (housing some of these by that time) was made. As a result, numerous e-learning services giving rise to several pilot courses have been gradually put into operation at all faculties since 2005.
The paper focuses on what conditions must be met for a large university to succeed in the seamless integration of e-learning into its information system and what benefits the methods currently applied at Masaryk University have.
The System, which represents one of the top-class information systems not only in the Czech Republic, but also elsewhere (in 2005, it was awarded the EUNIS ELITE AWARD), has recently proved highly effective and helpful. In 2004, some new e-learning sections (e.g. Study Materials, Homework Vault – used for submitting students assignments, Discussion Groups, etc.) were designed and began to be used actively by a large number of users.
Last year, the IS MU designers developed new e-learning tools which were gradually put into operation and subsequently utilized in the University’s regular courses. The following information (gathered during the autumn term of 2005) illustrates the extent to which these were used:
Interactive Syllabus represents a course syllabus, which is usually divided into thirteen sections (each corresponding to one week of the term). It can also be divided into thematic subsets, sections corresponding to individual seminar groups, etc.
To support revision as well as testing and examination processes, the application called ROPOT (acronym standing for Revision, Opinion Poll and Testing) was created. Using ROPOT, the teacher can provide students with sets of questions he/she wants them to answer or special revision exercises (called self-tests). He/she can also test their knowledge with the aid of electronic tests, have them work with compilations of learning materials combined with tests and questions, check their progress, obtain some feedback from them, and keep track of the efficiency of his/her teaching.
Finally, a new application that can be used for scanning and printing examination papers has been put into operation this year. It proves particularly useful for those teachers who need to mark a large number of tests on a regular basis. That is, even in the situation where students take written tests only, the marking of these appears to be extremely time-consuming since the process does not only involve the teacher going over the tests, but students’ subsequent consultations with him/her as well. Hence, the test-scanning represents a great asset in this respect.
During the examination period in January, 2006, the first examination papers of 320 students of the Faculty of Social Studies and 938 of those attending the Faculty of Informatics were scanned. The new technology of marking the papers, capable of processing 250 papers within two hours, has the merit of being extremely fast in comparison with its manual counterpart.
While a lot of new e-learning courses are being developed, special attention is also paid to the methods of teaching used in these and teacher’s capacity to run them.