Distance Education in Higher Education: The Perspective of Key Social Actors
This article considers the perspective of the key social actors (students, teachers and university management) regarding distance education development in Russia. In the modern information and digital age, distance education – based on the possibility of disseminating knowledge through modern computer technologies – is being actively introduced into the Russian higher education system. The pace of implementation is increasing in Russia, yet its assessment as a new form of learning and teaching is ambiguous. There are clear advantages to this form when compared with traditional face-to-face classroom instruction including: the accessibility of education to a wide audience; the possibility to earn a degree irrespective of place of residence; variability of learning time selection; relatively low tuition fees. At the same time, however, many believe that the quality of education received by distance students is lower than that received via face-to-face teaching, due to both the lack of student’ readiness and the difficulties related to pedagogical process organization and management. This study considers whether distance higher education will continue to develop in Russia. The answer to this question depends to a large extent on the perspective of the key social actors. The study analyses their attitudes to distance education and make the following conclusions: 1) University management generally accept this form because of its economic advantage and attitudes of the higher education authorities. Students also vote in favour, because it allows them to earn a degree without giving up work, family and home-related commitments. The most negative assessment is given by teachers who conduct classes at a distance and can compare distance learning outcomes with those in the traditional face-to-face classroom instruction.
Keywords: distance education, quality of education, social actors, students, teachers, university management
 Analysis of the Russian distance education market: results of 2018, forecast until 2021. Retrieved February 5, 2020 from https://marketing.rbc.ru/articles/10886.
 Castañeda, L. and Selwyn, N. (2018). More than tools? Making sense of the ongoing digitalization of higher education. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, vol. 15, p. 22. Retrieved February 20, 2020 from https://doi.org/10.1186/s41239-018-0109-y.
 Cavanaugh, C. (2005). Distance education success factors. In: Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology, First Edition. Hershey PA: IGI Global, pp. 897–901.
 Federal Law “On Education in the Russian Federation” of December 29, 2012 No. 273-FZ. Retrieved February 5, 2020 from https://base.garant.ru/70291362.
 Garrison, R. (2000). Theoretical challenges for distance education in the 21st century: A shift from structural to transactional issues. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, vol. 1, issue 1, pp. 1–17.
 Helbig, M., Jaehnen, S. and Marczuk, A. (2017). Does place of residence matter? Zeitschrift fur soziologie, vol. 46, issue 1, pp. 55–70.
 Holmberg, B. (1995). Theory and Practice of Distance Education. London: Routledge, p. 264.
 Jääskelä, P., Häkkinen, P. and Rasku-Puttonen, H. (2017). Teacher beliefs regarding learning, pedagogy, and the use of technology in higher education. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, vol. 49, issue 3-4, pp. 198-211. Retrieved February 20, 2020 from https://doi.org/10.1080/15391523.2017. 1343691.
 Keegan, D. (2013). Foundations of distance education. London: Routledge, p. 240.
 Moore, M. (1973). Toward a theory of independent learning and teaching. Journal of Higher Education, vol. 44, issue 9, pp. 661–680.
 Online education: A growing industry, Part 1. Retrieved February 5, 2020 from http://www.unkniga.ru/ vishee/7989-online-obrazovanie-rastuschaya-industriya-1.html.
 Order of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation “On the Use of Distance Educational Technologies” of May 6, 2014 No. 137. Retrieved February 5, 2020 from https://base. garant.ru/188453.
 Peters, O. (1993). Distance education in a post-industrial society. In: Keegan, D. (Ed.). Theoretical Principles of Distance Education. London: Routledge, pp. 39–58.
 Phipps, R. and Merisotis, J. (2000). Quality on the Line: Benchmarks for Success in Internet-Based Distance Education. Institute for Higher Education Policy, Washington DC, p. 240.
 Regulation on Conducting an Experiment in the Field of Distance Education, approved by the Order of the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation of 30 May 1997 No. 1050. Retrieved February 5,2020 from https://base.garant.ru/1586912.
 Sklyarenko, T. M. (2013). Distance education: foreign concepts. Innovative Projects and Programs in Education, vol. 5, pp. 65–69.
 Smolin, O. N. (2015). Higher education: struggle for quality or attempt on human potential? Art. 1. Sociological Studies, vol. 6, pp. 91–101.
 Stegniy, V. N. and Chernovalova, G. A. (2011). Teacher of higher education and distance education technologies. Higher education in Russia, vol. 7, pp. 94–98.
 Zaborova, E. N., Markova, T. L. and Glazkova, I. G. (2017). Distance learning: students’ perspective. Sociological Research, vol. 2, pp. 131-139.
 Zborovsky, G. E. and Ambarova, P. A. (2019). Sociology of Higher Education. University for Humanities, Yekaterinburg, p. 539.