UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

The first online courses in Slovakia : Noah’s Ark or Titanic? Pišútová, Katarína


The purpose of this study is to investigate problems encountered by learners as they participated in the first online courses in Slovakia, analyze the problems and determine which problems are connected with Slovak cultural background, legislation and economic situation, and hence might be specific to Slovakia or the region of Central and Eastern Europe. Data were gathered in two stages. First, semi-structured interviews were conducted with students in the first pilot run of the four online courses. Students were asked about issues identified in the literature and from the experience of the researcher, and provided an opportunity to add new issues. Second, based on the analysis of the interviews a questionnaire detailing the issues that could influence the learning experience was prepared in the second stage. All 131 students who participated in one of the four online courses were asked to complete the questionnaire. For each particular issue, they were asked to indicate the level of importance and the positive/negative effects on their learning experience. Among all issues, influence of which learners in the first online courses in Slovakia evaluated most positively were flexibility of time and space for study, feedback from their tutors, time savings through flexible schedules, option to use Internet resources and technical assistance received from their tutors. Among most negative issues overall according the students were problems with English proficiency when dealing with Internet resources, problems with access and reliability of technology, feelings of isolation and lack of support from employer. After further analysis, I came up with a list of eight issues, which seem related to local technical (weak infrastructure, problems with access to technology and Internet), socio-economic (lack of motivation and skill on the part of teachers, lack of reward structure for students) and cultural circumstances (teaching style/approach problems, label of low quality on distance education courses, problems with independence and responsibility on the part of students, newness of peer collaboration, language problems with Internet content). This study has confirmed at least two reasons for developing online learning in Slovakia. It can improve quality of teaching and access to education, which is one of the major problems of Slovak educational system. Many enthusiasts in Slovakia consider online learning to be a Noah's Ark for bringing Slovak higher education to a new level. Reality indicates that this assumption is probably not true. However, the results of this study do not imply the Titanic metaphor either. My impression tends more towards a small dugout canoe, moving slowly forward, propelled by the paddling of enthusiasts pushing for change. However, since the state institutions and European Union funding bodies show increasing interest in online learning, this boat may soon get a sail.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.