DOI: 10.12731/wsd-2015-3.8-13 UDC 378.147
PECULIARITIES OF TEACHING FOREIGN LANGUAGES WITH MOODLE-BASED E-LEARNING COURSES IN NATIONAL RESEARCH TOMSK POLYTECHNIC UNIVERSITY
The appropriateness of using E-learning in the educational process of National Research Tomsk Polytechnic University is examined in the paper. The study objective is to reveal the most promising application of E-learning courses in foreign language teaching. Particular attention in the article is given to the requirements needed for the development of Moodle-based E-learning courses, and the conditions leading to effective use of the courses in the process of education. Due to the significant reduction of academic hours set for the discipline «Foreign lan-guage» in technical institutions, the problem of implementing E-learning is particularly topical. The E-learning course developed for training first-year students of TPU and tested during the fall semester, 2014 is given as an example.
Keywords: E-learning; E-learning course; Moodle platform; educational process; students' independent work; module; work educational program of the course; calendar-thematic plan; testing system.
ОБУЧЕНИЕ ИНОСТРАННЫМ ЯЗЫКАМ С ИСПОЛЬЗОВАНИЕМ ЭЛЕКТРОННЫХ
УЧЕБНЫХ КУРСОВ В ТОМСКОМ ПОЛИТЕХНИЧЕСКОМ УНИВЕРСИТЕТЕ
В статье рассматривается целесообразность использования электронного обучения в образовательном процессе Томского Политехнического Университета. Целью исследования является выявление наиболее перспективного применения электронных курсов в обучении иностранному языку. Особое внимание в данной работе уделяется требованиям, предъявляемым к разработке электронных учебных курсов на платформе Moodle, и условиям, способствующим их эффективному использованию. В связи со значительным сокращением академических часов, выделяемых на дисциплину «Иностранный язык» в технических вузах, проблема внедрения электронного обучения является особенно актуальной. В качестве примера представлен электронный курс, рассчитанный на обучение английскому языку студентов 1 курса и апробированный в течение осеннего семестра 2014 года.
Ключевые слова: электронное обучение; электронный образовательный курс; платформа Moodle; образовательный процесс; самостоятельная работа студентов; модуль; рабочая программа курса; календарный план; система тестирования.
Nowadays, under conditions of transition to the level system of training, the new Federal State Educational Standards require the intensification of the educational technologies . Within the frame of solving the problem, Russian universities have realized the need for using learning management systems and developing the concept of E-learning proved to be effective. It's by now, inevitable, that methods of teaching and learning should include E-learning components that are based on the computer environment and include proper preparation for contemporary life . Professional activity of future specialists will be closely concerned with ever-changing and perfective computer and Internet technologies [3, 4]. Teaching in an E-learning environment can contribute to the ability to train, the ability to learn, and most important to bridge between two main components in the classroom, the teacher and the learner. Moreover, E-learning provides different environments for learners with dynamic, interactive, nonlinear access to a wide range of information (text, graphs and animation) as well as to self-directed learning in online communication (e-mail and forums) [5-7].
Depending on the saturation degree of the educational process with various electronic technologies, content delivery and the nature of participants' interaction, the authors  distinguish: (a) traditional teaching (without E-learning); (b) web-supported traditional teaching (1-29% of the course is implemented on the Internet, that means content delivery, minimal interaction using LMS when doing independent work); (c) blended-learning (30-79% of the course is implemented on the Internet: the portion of the traditional face-to-face institution is replaced by E-learning ); (d) online teaching (often without face-to-face interaction).
Recently web-supported traditional teaching has become quite common for Tomsk Polytechnic University: E-leaming environment has been developed on the Moodle platform , more than 15500 full-time students have been carrying out network lab works and tests as independent work. The next step in developing E-learning in TPU is creating the system of blended-learning based on the introduction of electronic technologies into the educational process organization .
One of the trends in foreign language teaching in TPU is the use of E-learning courses for both training and testing students' knowledge. It enables to improve the quality of education and make better use of the classroom time .
The topicality of the E-learning courses is due to the fact that the traditional system of practical classes and control works is not always effective because of constant reducing the number of hours set for foreign language learning in general, and cutting classroom work hours by means of increasing the amount of independent work .
An educational process involving E-learning course can be represented as the following cycle: (1) independent study of theoretical materials contained in the course, implementation of the tasks, discussions via forums and chat rooms; (2) knowledge actualization in the classroom: work on the complex issues of the topic, establishment of relationships, practical work performance; (3) summing-up and final testing on the course theme. The use of E-learning courses, hosted on the servers of the University, has several advantages [14-15]: (a) all the materials contained in the courses are available twenty-four hours a day from any place having Internet access; (b) there is a variety of network interfaces (Internet explorer, Google Chrome and others); (c) there is an opportunity to use any sources of information, e.g. elec-
tronic libraries in the educational process; the educational process has a flexible modular structure; (d) information having properties of novelty and usefulness is provided efficiently ; (e) the use of multimedia technology makes the educational process more fascinating and entertaining; (f) there is practically all-around automation: an educator creates the tests and predetermines their parameters, while the system carries out assessment and shows it in the grades report; (g) E-learning courses allow to acquire the skills of using modern information and communication technologies and form the abilities in self-organization and planning.
In accordance with , the deployment of E-learning courses on the Moodle platform, gained worldwide popularity, gives educators the best tools to manage learning, upload wide range of materials, a variety of problems and exercises, multimedia resources, such as video or audio, PowerPoint, Flash-based applications and so on. Teachers can provide students with a large amount of resources that they cannot usually show due to time constraints. Moodle provides great opportunities for communication and interaction between the participants of the educational process. Moreover, Moodle has fundamental tools for collection, processing and storage of statistical data on the educational process events. The students' exploration of any of the content-based resources can be easily assessed by using any of the Moodle-based evaluation and feedback tools.
The administration of the Moodle-based courses is carefully thought out. A developer can use either thematic or calendar structuring of the course. A teacher with the right of administrator can enroll students and other teachers giving participants the appropriate roles (e.g. a guest, a student, etc), creating groups and so on . A clear
organizational structure of the course, visual representation of the material, development of students' individual learning paths, monitoring students' progress, storage of students' portfolios, maintenance of students' activity, automated result processing and feedback capability can be referred to the main benefits of this learning management system. Moreover, Moodle makes it possible for the developers: (a) to use many interesting tools that can improve the teaching-learning process,
(b) to add or change the content of the course according to their needs,
(c) to limit the time allowed for doing the tasks, if necessary; (d) to define the date and time of the beginning and end of completing tests and assignments; (e) to allow the access to the results after carrying out the assignments.
The development of the Moodle-based E-learning course is to meet all the requirements established by the educational institution. The compulsory components of the E-learning course are: work educational program, calendar-thematic plan, materials for students' knowledge monitoring and final tests.
Work educational program developed on the basis of the Federal State Educational Standards is the main normative and methodical document defining the volume and content of the course. It contains the goals and objectives as well as the data on theoretical knowledge and practical skills that students will acquire as the result of completing the E-learning course.
Calendar-thematic plan includes the names of the themes according to the work educational program which are to be studied. Besides, number of hours set for student's self-directed, theoretical and practical work is determined in it.
There are general requirements  specified for every E-learning course: (a) the material of the course must be selected with respect to knowledge and skills of the students and teacher's needs; (b) the course should provide the student diversity; (c) content must be designed for practical application of the received knowledge; (d) the material must be structured, divided into modules, topics a
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