Wednesday, 6 March 2019

A survey of Russian and Kazakh university teachers’ pedagogical conceptions, attitudes towards and skills in the use ICT-based learning tools

This survey was carried out in the spring of 2018 as part of the ERASMUS+ Capacity building project co-ordinated by Tampere University of Applied Sciences. The aim of the project is to develop online training modules for 
sustainable waste management in Russian and Kazakh universities by utilizing the best practices in Europe. The survey was launched before 
the participants had started planning their online courses.

The aim of this survey was twofold: 1) to gather information about the participants’ online teaching experience 
and their expectations of the upcoming two-week pedagogical workshop in Tampere, 
Finland, and 2) to investigate their perceptions of online teaching and learning.  
The latter aim sought 
answers to two questions :
How do the participants perceive a successful online course?
What are roles of teacher and student in their imagined course?

The data was gathered using a future prediction method with backcasting, where the participants were
asked to imagine a time three years ahead when the project would be over and the online programme 
running successfully and in their answer describe how this had been achieved. The instruction was the

I always receive good feedback on my web-based courses and feel that I succeed as an online 
teacher. I like to teach and facilitate learning online. Students get good results and there are 
hardly any drop-outs.
Describe what must have happened for you to be in this situation three years from now. 
Use all the remaining space of this document.
We received answers from 12 participants. Many of the participants did not follow the instruction of 
backcasting, but instead they described their thoughts on or experiences of online courses in general 
and/or their need for training. This might have  been partly due to language and translation problems. 
The instruction was translated into Russian but the participants could answer either in English or in 
Russian. The Russian answers were then translated into Finnish. Thus some data was subjected to 
translation or interpretation errors in three languages; first in the translation of the instruction from 
English into Russian and then in the translation of their answers from Russian into Finnish.

Nevertheless, the data gave a clear idea of what the participants were expecting from the two-week 
pedagogical workshop as many of them discussed their training needs in their answers. To find 
answers to the two research questions the texts were content analyzed to find recurring themes in the 
texts. They may not all have followed the instruction but they all discussed online teaching and learning.

After finding the themes a structural analysis was carried out focusing on the verbs that were used in 
the texts to describe teachers and students actions. It was assumed that these action verbs would 
reveal something about the participants’ perceptions of agency in an online course, that is if there were 
any differences between how students’ actions and teachers’ actions were described. The original idea 
had been to use Greimas’ Actantial model for the structural analysis but due to possible translation 
difficulties this idea was abandoned. To carry out such an analysis would have required an absolute 
certainty that the expressions in the text were those that the writer had chosen and had not changed or 
been lost in translation. With verbs only this risk of misinterpretation was considered to be much lower.


The four categories that emerged from the data were 1) participants’ own learning needs, 2) materials 
and technology, 3) teachers’ responsibilities, and 4) students’ role. The participants expressed a wish to learn 
more about online pedagogy and new approaches to 
teaching and learning, but even more so to learn to use new online tools.

I need to improve my knowledges and skills in using of modern educational technologies and tools.
I need a very purposeful training about what tools of the online learning tools set we can use.

Especially learning to prepare materials in a form of videos was considered important:
I need the the ability to shoot video, the ability to work with audio, the ability to create screencasts, 
the ability to mount video, audio, screencasts..

It is necessary to alternate the flow of information either verbally or visually, using images and graphs.

It was obvious that the participants had little experience of online teaching and learning but that they 
were aware of their learning needs and  motivated to learn more. However, the above answers also 
show that the focus is on the content of the courses, the materials and the technology to deliver those 
materials. This is what often happens with first online courses (Mällinen 2007), teachers tend to 
transfer the traditional teacher-led classroom practices as such to an online environment. This is 
captured in one of the participants’ description of their role now and in future online:

I can compare myself with theatric actor and I need to learn how to play in TV shows

As shown by previous studies (Mällinen 2007), the first online courses tend to become material heavy 
and technology led. Based on the participants’ answers (see above)  there seems to be a risk of this as 
well. The participants describe their responsibilities as teachers as having to prepare video lectures, 
teaching materials, tasks for students and presentations. In addition, they see as their duty to constantly 
update the contents, give instant feedback and be always available for the students, and also market the 

I need to constantly update and develop the online course including presentations, self-study tasks, 
electronic innovations,...
I’m always available for students to give them answers to additional questions if students didn’t find 
answers on my course.
The latter quote above suggests traditional knowledge delivery where the teacher has all the answers 
that students are to find. This perception of a teacher’s role and responsibilities is also visible in the 
verbs that the participants chose to describe their actions in their future online courses. As teachers they
equip themselves with, prepare, answer, give, master, use, develop, create, choose, organize, update, 
compare, build, work, market, be, have, define, organize. Apart from ‘be’ and ‘have’ all of these are 
action verbs describing concrete activities.
To describe students’ role on their courses the participants used the following verbs:  communicate, 
must feel, continue, take, see, comment. All in all, mentions about students were much fewer. Although 
‘communicate’ conveys some student participation, overall the verbs are fewer and do not describe 
action  as strongly. ’See’ and ‘take’ could even suggest the intake of information or answering questions.
In fact, the context of these verbs were to ‘take a test’ , ‘to fill in a feedback questionnaire’, ‘to 
continue studying’.
One of the participants differed in their answers:
Students should actively participate in the process.
We should start with students’ needs.
Students ought to know in which forums they could discuss
All of the above statements suggest perceiving students as actors in their own learning process, not 
merely recipients of information and knowledge.
In general the participants tended to focus more on what they as teachers should do to make their online 
courses successful, prepare good quality materials and deliver them with appropriate tools. The teachers,
rather than the students, seemed to be the acting agents in most cases, being ‘ Sage on the Stage’, 
instead of ‘Guide on the Side’ (quotes from Winter 1993). A successful online course seemed to be 
perceived as having the learning materials presented in various, interesting ways using modern 
technology and with tasks for students to solve, to which the teacher knows the right answers and is 
available to help.  

The workshop in Tampere in October 2018 was informed by the survey results and attempted to offer 
what was expected, learning to make video recordings and to use various online tools, but also what
seemed to be needed, that is, contemporary understanding of teaching and learning, student-centred
approaches and constructively aligned design (Biggs 1996) with an emphasis on students’ role in the
learning process. All of this was also much appreciated by the participants and good results were
At the moment the plans for the online courses are well on the way, the contents have been agreed on, 
and the learning objectives have become more concrete and measurable. Now is the time to try to 
ensure that traditional teacher-led classroom teaching is not transferred online but instead the joy of 
discovery, control and responsibility of learning are given to students themselves.


Biggs, J. Enhancing teaching through constructive alignment. Biggs, J. High Educ (1996) 32: 347.

King, A. (1993) From Sage on the Stage to Guide on the Side. In College Teaching, Vol. 41, No. 1 
(Winter, 1993), pp. 30-35Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.Stable 
URL: .

Mällinen, S (2007) Conceptual change process of Polytechnic Teachers in Transition From 
Classroom to Web-based Course. Academic dissertation. Stable URL:

Thursday, 11 October 2018

New level of communication with students

I had many questions concerning not only idea of developing distant learning courses but questions on how to create the system that will preserve the educational spirit we have in classrooms. Fortunately, our hosts from Tampere University had answers to all my questions.
Now I know how to make students to work. We were described modern methods and tools, such as Zoom, Socrative, Canva, etc.  The set of these tools covers all my needs as a teacher. Now I can plan preliminary activities with students using Google drive to distribute all materials, Zoom to organize conversation with students, Socrative to evaluate students, Canva. To create nice looking presentations.
This workshop is my first experience of e-learning learning in depth. I was not very much enthusiastic on e-learning, supposing that classical methods of education are more efficient. Due to Sisko I understood that e-learning gives me more freedom and opportunities than traditional methods.

Thank tou, TAMK Team!

Sergei, I'm adding a list of the tools you mention in your post here with a brief description of how they can be used . These are the tools we discussed and tried out ourselves during the workshop:


GoogleMaps as an E-learning Tool

We are opening many different e-learning tools in TAMK. Thinking about the introduction part of the course and involving students in the learning process, we've got an idea of creating a map, which allows students to pick their cities or, for instance, if they are from one city, their favourite places etc. This kind of activity gives students an opportunity to use the features of the program and introduce themselves the way they want to. Of course, the map can be used as a tool for various types of activities. We created a map using Google MyMaps and tested it with our colleagues.
TAMK October 2018 Workshop Participants

Introduction example

Live long learning - it is about me!
Now I am in Tampere University and very happy. Two weeks we study with project partners different E-learning tools: Socrative, Padlet, Canva, H5P and etc. We will use all the tools to prepare an online course. The picture shows an example of using Prezi for introduction teacher. 
We have great teachers: beautiful and clever Sisko, hardworking and smiling Evelina, intelligent and calm Jarmo, lovely and scrupulous Ella. We want to thank teachers for the informative and useful workshop.

Presentation of a part of the online course

I introduce myself. I am the director of an educational program "advertising and public relations" and a teacher of management. All my presentation you can see here
In TAMK we have developed part of the online course. The online course is about the basics of SWM economics. We practiced creating presentations in PREZI, created tests in SOCRATIVE and conducted web-conferences in ZOOM. At the end we learned to use various applications to create online courses. Nice people and friends are here in Tampere, Finland.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Figuring out copyrights

On Monday 8th of October 2018 we learned (hopefully) about intellectual properties and all things related to the term. All countries have their own legislation, but fortunately there are some universal foundation that can be used. After brief theories and Socrative tests we dived into copyright exercise. Everyone or almost everyone had shared some picture or video at this blog and the assignment was to find out what kind of copyright rules bide their usage, who is the author and how could the materials be used as part of course, learning materials or activities. As a result, we created a Padlet containing all relevant info...

Tehty Padletilla