Time and location. In the time period from 15 to 30 April 2020, Ukrainian researchers conducted an online survey to investigate readiness of Ukrainian teachers from major higher education institutions of Cherkasy region (central Ukraine) to the distance learning during quarantine caused by the spread of COVID-19 in the world and Ukraine.
Means of the survey. The COVID-19 Teachers’ Questionnaire consisting of twenty questions was the main method of the study. The validity of the Questionnaire was determined by the relevance of the content of questions to the purpose of the study. The proposed questionnaire consisted of 20 questions, the content of 17 of which was directly related to the issue of distance education (three questions were devoted to clarifying general information about the respondent). The Questionnaire was distributed through the following channels: Google Classroom; Google Forms; e-mailing to respondents. The survey was conducted online and was based on the principles of anonymity and confidentiality. In line with aforementioned, it should be noted that respondents were already knowledgeable about digital technology and answered the questionnaire based on their own experience.
Participants. Teachers from three leading higher education institutions of Cherkasy region, Ukraine, took part in the survey: Cherkasy Institute of Fire Safety, Bohdan Khmelnitskyi National Pedagogical University at Cherkasy, Pavlo Tychyna Uman State Pedagogical University. The total number of respondents – 485 people (306 women; 179 men). The survey was anonymous. No special selection of the teachers for the questionnaire survey has been done.
The survey involved the next age categories of faculty members: 41-50 years – 42,3% (205 people); 26-40 years – 26,8% (130 people); more than 50 years – 20%; under 25 years – 10,9%.
The professional experience of teachers ranged from 1 year to 20 or more (1-5 years – 12,2%; 6-10 years – 15,3%; 11-20 years – 15,6%; 21 years and more – 56,9%.Findings.
3.1. Computer skills & previous e-learning/teaching experience.
Conducting distance learning assumes that all participants in the educational process (teachers and students) own a computer, have computer skills and Internet experience, can send, forward and receive e-mails, understand the features of organizing a remote lesson in real time, use active applications (PowerPoint presentations, drawings, videos), organize discussions via chat or audio. That is why, primarily, it was necessary to find out how well teachers use modern gadgets, electronic communications, to understand the level of their training in the field of information and communication technologies, the use of Internet resources, and the teachers’ practical experience of distance learning.
55, 9% of respondents have a personal computer at home, 40% use a computer that is utilized by other family members, 4, 1% brought computer from work for a quarantine time.
Almost all respondents (89, 9%) are registered on social networks, exchange files by e-mail, send text messages or make phone calls.
58, 7% of teachers have diverse interactive experience, which primarily involves the use of applications for mobile devices (smartphones, tablets) – Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram.
As a source for searching for specialized information in the field of professional interests, most faculty members use search engines on a computer, YouTube and mobile phones.
Respondents have experience in participating in online seminars on professional topics that have been posted on various Internet resources. More than half of the surveyed teachers participated in such seminars (56, 9%).
The next set of questions in this questionnaire allowed to identify that only 7,8% of teachers have previous distance education experience; 18,3% of teachers are partially familiar with the forms of distance learning, but have no experience in their application; 73,9% lack theoretical knowledge, practical skills and abilities necessary for the implementation of distance learning.
83,9% of teachers mentioned that they did not receive special training for distance learning neither in higher education institutions nor during advanced training. Nonetheless, 75,1% of respondents expressed a desire to undergone advanced training to upgrade their skills and learn how to design e-learning courses.
3.2. Current e-learning/teaching.
It was important for the study to determine how teachers of higher education institutions organize distance learning, how its benefits are realized, what tools teachers use, how effectively and flexibly; how much time respondents use to prepare for educational activities and how much time – for their own educational activities; how many students participate in events remotely, etc. The survey found that the vast majority of teachers (95,9%) despite the lack of skills and abilities of distance learning still work with students remotely. Regarding the activity of students in distance learning (question: What percentage of students actually participates in your disciplines during quarantine?), We found that 87, 3% of students still continue their studies during quarantine.
As to the number of academic disciplines taught by Ukrainian teachers simultaneously, it was found that most teachers teach 5-8 disciplines for students of different years of study (7-8 disciplines – 26, 8%; 6-5 disciplines – 22, 7%; 10 disciplines – 16, 1%; 1-4 discipline – 12, 7%; more than 10 disciplines – 9, 9%).
At the same time, 30,9% of teachers adhere to the previously approved class schedule; 47,8% of respondents partially adhere to the schedule; 21% of respondents do not follow the schedule at all.
For distance learning tools used in quarantine, teachers were asked to choose one or more answers from a list (Google Class, Moodle, CiscoWebex, Microsoft Office, Zoom, Hangouts, Meet, Skype, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, YouTube, e-mail, personal website, Viber, Tic Tok, Instagram, WhatsApp, FreeConferenceCall, Googledisk, personal blog, mobile phone, website of the institution, etc.).
The programs and resources most commonly used by teachers for distance education are shown in Figure 1.
Most used distance learning tools
Source: author’s calculations based on the conducted survey.
Obviously, e-mail and Viber have become the most common means of distance communication with students: almost 83% of respondents use e-mail and more than 78% of respondents indicated that they use Viber as a tool for distance learning. Similar data were obtained during the survey of 540 Ukrainian students in the time period from 01 to 10 April 2020 (Nenko et al., 2020).
73,6% use GoogleClass, while teachers say that such a tool is not voluntary, as the management of higher education institutions insists on it. Messengers and platforms popular among young people are mostly not used: Instagram – 6%, Tik Tok – 0,3%.
Thus, there is a certain inconsistency between teachers in educational institutions regarding the use of different technologies and forms of education. Teachers use different platforms, technologies, social networks, which has complicated the organization of student learning at home.
In addition, the fact that the majority of respondents chose only one or two options from the list indicates the need to acquaint them with tools that provide different educational needs and perform different tasks.
If we differentiate the tools for lectures, laboratory and practical classes during quarantine, we have the following results:
40,7% of respondents spread lecture material by sending lecture notes by e-mail; laboratory classes during quarantine are not conducted or postponed (indicated by 67% of respondents); other classes are conducted mostly by attachment of e-books or other information in the GoogleClass (as noted by 58,9% of teachers). Consultation, verification and review of tasks are carried out by e-mail.
40,7% of the surveyed teachers send lecture notes to their students; 22,4% – give on-line lectures; 20,8% – send presentations; 16,1% – send video records.
As for the classes, 41, 1% of respondents teach on-line (58, 9% send e-books only). During online classes feedback is provided, students answer the teacher’s questions and ask their questions on the topic in chat or via audio communication.
The survey also exposed that teachers in the process of distance learning do not meet their needs for creative self-realization due to such possible reasons as outdated approaches to the provision of educational services, overwork, and lack of motivation for both teachers and students.
3.3. Forms of control of e-learning outcomes.
In the course of the research we were also interested in whether teachers conduct current control of students’ work, forms of current control of students’ knowledge and whether the distribution of scores has changed with the transition to distance learning.
The survey showed that most teachers have feedback and communicate with students in different ways. 63,9% of respondents carry out monitoring and evaluation of students; 25,8% of teachers partially evaluate their students; 10,3% do not check and evaluate the work of students during quarantine. We consider this to be a positive trend, since communication with the teacher and assessment motivates young people to learn, especially in quarantine.
Forms of knowledge control during e-learning are graphically presented in Figure 2.
Forms of current control
Source: author’s calculations based on the conducted survey.
Teachers indicated that during distance learning they take homework or tests mainly in the following format (possible combination of forms):
- handwritten written works (photo or scan) and sent by e-mail or messenger (38,5%);
- works in the format of presentations, abstracts or essays sent by mail or messenger (55,9%);
- on-line questionnaires or forms with tests (31,9%);
- presentation of work during video conferences (11,1%).
61,8% of teachers also indicated that they have somehow changed the distribution of points in assessing students’ knowledge, as the emphasis shifted to independent work of students.
Regarding the amount of time that teachers spend preparing for distance education, it was found that the average time for preparation is from 2 to 4 hours for 36,5% and from 4 to 6 hours for 22,5% (Figure 3).
Average time for preparation
Source: author’s calculations based on the conducted survey.
3.4. Difficulties during e-education.
The majority of respondents (94%) sincerely admitted that they encountered difficulties in teaching using on-line teaching technologies. Such a high percentage is due to the fact that teachers have no previous experience in using online communication tools for consultations and classes and experience in using elements of distance education to control the students’ educational and cognitive activities.
In open answers, teachers shared their views on the obstacles to effective distance learning in quarantine. The scope of problems is wide: insufficient coverage of remote areas by the Internet; poor technical equipment of both teachers and students; insufficient level of technical training of teachers to work with interactive programs; psychological problems of teachers when using voice communication and when working with a video camera; low capacity of the electronic network during educational or examination teleconferences; excessive bureaucracy of distance learning; some students living in rural areas do not have the appropriate technical equipment and access to the Internet, etc.
According to the survey the basic obstacles for effective distance education are as follows:
- lack of computer literacy – 55,9%;
- irregular communication with all students in a class (not all students can get in touch with a teacher) – 54%;
- lack of a single standard for all disciplines – 43,1%;
- lack of technical means for video communication – 33,6%;
- inconvenience of e-learning platforms – 24,1%;
- lack or instability of internet connection – 17,1%;
- lack of necessary equipment at home – 15%;
- Difficulties in gathering all the students in class at one time – 12, 2%, etc.
82, 9% of teachers have sufficient Internet connection for distance learning. 6, 9% of teachers have poor internet quality; 10, 2% of respondents have irregular connection to the Internet. In our opinion, this is due to network congestion as a result of remote work of many people, which reduces the power and speed of the Internet connection.
Regarding teacher evaluation of effectiveness of current distance learning during quarantine, we have the following results: low – 41, 9%, average – 36, 5%, high – 21, 6%. Such indicators can be explained by the fact that now teachers in the conditions of compulsory distance learning during quarantine have to adapt to a new role and learn to simultaneously combine and apply their knowledge and skills in pedagogy and psychology, professional disciplines and information and communication technologies.