Russian higher vocational education system is currently undergoing a reform, with joining the Bologna process, implementing dual-level education system (Bachelor's degree, Master's degree), moving to new federal state education standards, implementing a competency-based approach - all these institutional transformations shape the reforms and content of education process in higher learning institutions.
Classical form of education, with in-class learning (lectures and seminars), independent work, tests and exams, is becoming less efficient in terms of building professional knowledge and skills. On the one hand, the new educational standards need implementation of variative forms and methods of training into the education process. On the other hand, students demand flexible forms of education, which allow combining education and work effectively.
In light of this, Russian Universities are considering distance learning as an instrument in improving the efficiency of the training process and are actively implementing e-learning technologies. However, this process is related to a number of challenges:
1. Organizational support. Due to heavy administrative restrictions imposed on the University management, implementation of distance learning technologies requires certain a sequence of administrative decisions (at the level of chair, deanery, learning and teaching unit, academic council, rectorate), compliant with the requirements of Federal State Education Standards (FGOS) for a wide range of teaching areas. Since FGOS requirements vary, making the administrative decisions aimed at unifying various requirements is substantially complicated.
2. Methodological support. Conducting classes in distance learning format requires developing the respective curricula for various study disciplines, lecture transcripts, webinar scenarios, assessment funds, etc.
3. Human resources support. Not all teachers by far have the adequate knowledge and skills for working in distance learning systems. Many are unwilling to work with new technologies (and they have every right to be). That is why Universities are facing the need to conduct ToT seminars and courses to teach the staff to design and manage their own distance learning courses.
4. Technological support. Ensuring success of distance learning efforts requires the respective technologies, equipment, etc. - not just at the University, but also among students.
The article presents results reflecting implementation of distance learning technologies in Master's education process at the Academy of Labor and Social Relations (Moscow, Russia). Survey results of teachers and students are provided. The study covers a 4-year period of preparation and implementation of distance learning.