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Hanna Mosiienko, Anatolii Tarasenko, Galyna Lysenko, Nataliia Malaniuk, Alla Kalyniuk
Building research competence of students of technical majors in the context of
distance education. - Eduweb, 2023, julio-septiembre, v.17, n.3. /146-159
DOI: https://doi.org/10.46502/issn.1856-7576/2023.17.03.13
Cómo citar:
Mosiienko, H., Tarasenko, A., Lysenko, G., Malaniuk, N., & Kalyniuk, A. (2023). Building research competence of students of
technical majors in the context of distance education. Revista Eduweb, 17(3), 146-159.
https://doi.org/10.46502/issn.1856-7576/2023.17.03.13
Building research competence of students of technical
majors in the context of distance education
Fortalecer la competencia investigadora de estudiantes de carreras técnicas
en el contexto de la educación a distancia
Hanna Mosiienko
https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5603-8380
Ukrainian Engineering Pedagogics Academy, Kharkiv, Ukraine.
Anatolii Tarasenko
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0896-3587
Ukrainian Engineering Pedagogics Academy, Kharkiv, Ukraine.
Galyna Lysenko
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6216-5025
Prydniprovska State Academy of Civil Engineering and Architecture, Dnipro, Ukraine.
Nataliia Malaniuk
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4321-0900
State University of Telecommunications, Kyiv, Ukraine.
Alla Kalyniuk
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4560-3409
State University of Telecommunications, Kyiv, Ukraine.
Recibido: 15/04/23
Aceptado: 30/05/23
Abstract
The aim of the study was to establish ways of developing research competence in students of technical majors
in the context of distance learning, and to evaluate their effectiveness. The research methods were: comparison,
Forester’s method, Cohen’s coefficient, Pearson’s correlation coefficient. It was established that the use of the
research method of teaching in the context of distance education had a high effect on the level research
competence of students of technical majors. A slightly lower effect was also achieved when introducing a course
on research work. The maximum effect is achieved when combining both methods of building research
competence. An increase in the research competence level was found. At the same time, students’ confidence
in discussing research ideas with colleagues, conducting literature search, editing and shortening the text, and
presenting research results also increased. Prospects for further research consist in the diagnostics of innovative
methods of building research competence that can be applied in technical majors and increase the success rate
of students in the context of distance education.
Key Words: Project method, augmented reality, gamification, self-regulated learning, innovative technologies,
research method, active learning.
Resumen
El objetivo del estudio fue establecer formas de desarrollar la competencia investigativa en estudiantes de
carreras técnicas en el contexto de la educación a distancia, y evaluar su efectividad. Los métodos de
Revista de Tecnología de Información y Comunicación en Educación • Volumen 17, N° 3. Julio-septiembre 2023
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investigación fueron: comparación, método de Forester, coeficiente de Cohen, coeficiente de correlación de
Pearson. Se estableció que el uso del todo investigativo de enseñanza en el contexto de la educación a
distancia tuvo un alto efecto en el nivel de competencia investigativa de los estudiantes de carreras técnicas.
También se logró un efecto ligeramente menor cuando se introdujo un curso sobre trabajo de investigación. El
efecto máximo se logra cuando se combinan ambos métodos para desarrollar la competencia investigadora. Se
encontró un aumento en el nivel de competencia investigativa. Al mismo tiempo, también aumentó la confianza
de los estudiantes para discutir ideas de investigación con colegas, realizar búsquedas bibliográficas, editar y
acortar el texto y presentar los resultados de la investigación. Las perspectivas para futuras investigaciones
consisten en el diagnóstico de métodos innovadores para desarrollar competencias de investigación que puedan
aplicarse en carreras técnicas y aumentar la tasa de éxito de los estudiantes en el contexto de la educación a
distancia.
Palabras clave: todo de proyecto, realidad aumentada, gamificación, aprendizaje autorregulado,
tecnologías innovadoras, método de investigación, aprendizaje activo.
1. Introduction
The rapid development of innovative technologies causes changes in the environment. This places demands
on society: training future specialists for the effective performance of professional duties in the rapidly
changing environment. In other words, students must acquire the necessary competencies that will enable
them to engage in lifelong learning (Leshchenko et al., 2021). It was also proved (Wishkoski et al., 2022)
that people are engaged in research activities for a significant part of their life, even without always realizing
it. Therefore, teachers are tasked to create conditions for the development of research competence in
students during their studies at an educational institution (Astafieva et al., 2020). Specialists in any field
should familiarize themselves with the current results of research in their professional field, plan their
activity, and forecast its results. Research competence contributes to the creation, accumulation and
dissemination of professional knowledge based on research results and previous experience.
The events of 2020, when the whole world switched to distance learning because of the pandemic (Suriagiri
et al., 2022), and 2022, when Ukrainian pupils and students were forced to return to distance learning
again because of hostilities in the country (Marienko & Sukhikh, 2022), posed new challenges for teachers
and scientists. These include preserving and increasing the effectiveness of the educational process under
new extreme conditions. Interest in the organization of distance learning arose a long time ago (Petrenko
et al., 2020). The researchers have investigated its advantages and disadvantages (Ward & Lindshieil,
2020), established effective approaches, strategies and teaching methods (Rincon-Flores &
Santos-Guevara, 2021). A number of learning resources have been developed and tested. But there are
still difficulties in ensuring a continuous learning process due to the forced transition of students of technical
majors, whose education involves a significant proportion of practical and laboratory work that involves the
use of various technical real equipment, to online learning.
The aim of this research was to identify ways of building the research competence of students of technical
majors, and to study their effectiveness in the context of distance education. The aim involved the following
research objectives:
1) find out the attitude of students and teachers to distance education;
2) propose and implement ways of developing research competence in students of technical majors in the
context of distance education;
3) study the effectiveness of the proposed recommendations for the organization of the educational
process in building research competence of students of technical majors in the context of distance
education.
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2. Literature review
Education of students of technical majors and research activities are closely related. For example,
mathematical competence is better developed in a science-oriented environment (Astafieva et al., 2020).
At the same time, the educational process should be built in such a way that the student is not only an
object, but also a subject of educational activity (Makhmudova et al., 2020). The student should be able
not only to use the information provided by the teacher, but also to supplement it. So, learning is not aimed
at memorizing information by students, but at involving them in activities during which they acquire new
knowledge (Rincon-Flores & Santos-Guevara, 2021).
The research competence can be built during curricular and extracurricular (Diaz-Iso et al., 2020) research
activities (Abbott, 2019). For example, many educational programmes contain subjects, the purpose of
which is to build students’ research competences. They should make students understand the basics of
research, teach not to accept facts as truth, but to question and analyse. For this purpose, it is necessary
to involve students in research activities as early as possible.
The dependence of students’ success on the teaching methods used by teachers was proved. The positive
impact of the research method, which develops students’ skills in generating, applying and adapting new
knowledge, on their learning outcomes was established (Turner et al., 2018). The effectiveness of business,
educational, serious games in the development of research competence was found (Rincon-Flores &
Santos-Guevara, 2021). They allow students to show their curiosity, persistence, ability to take risks, pay
attention to details, solve problems and interpret the results obtained. Abbott (2019) studied the
effectiveness of the business game How to Fail Your Research Degree, which is intended for building
research competence in graduate and doctoral students.
Astafieva et al. (2020) identified the difficulties that students and teachers face when creating a research-
based learning environment for learning, for example, mathematics in the context of distance learning.
Makhmudova et al. (2020) also studied the effectiveness of an open system of teaching physics and
mathematics in higher educational institutions (HEIs) equipped with information and communication
technologies.
Innovative communication technologies play an important role not only in the development of research
competence (Skantz-Åberg et al, 2022). but also in the organization of distance learning (Suriagiri et al.,
2022). They enable the choice of the topics of students’ research, implementing experimental and
theoretical research, carrying out remote field and computational experiments, using virtual laboratories,
etc. (Udeozor et al., 2021). In particular, virtual reality allows replacing risky environments, for example,
in chemical engineering. Multifunctional mobile devices can help students acquire the necessary skills,
including research skills (Reddy et al., 2022). They can be further successfully used in professional activities.
Open network resources facilitate the organization of students’ educational activities. They can be used as
a means of communication between participants of the educational process to provide educational
information to students. Online resources can be sources of information used by students during in-class
lessons and during independent work (Kiv et al., 2019). A number of learning networks have also been
established that can be used in distance education, and that contribute to improved practical outcomes
(Boyd, 2019). Various online platforms for hosting interactive educational resources have also gained
popularity (Ward & Lindshieil, 2020).
Improving digital competence contributes to increasing the level of research competence (Leshchenko et
al., 2021). Therefore, when training researchers and scientists, it is appropriate to include a course on
studying, for example, cloud technologies, platforms and services, in the curricula (Kiv et al., 2019).
Additional opportunities provided by cloud technologies enable for research that is difficult to implement in
real conditions, when special equipment is not available (during distance learning), unrealistic (model for
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demonstrating the states of relativistic mechanics), or dangerous to use (radioactive decay). Virtual
laboratories and simulators, software that enables simulating various processes can also be used. The use
of such resources interlinks research competences with subject and digital ones. However, it is necessary
to conduct extra-curricular online activities to improve the digital level of students (Foley & Marr, 2019).
The teacher’s ability to properly design and manage a virtual classroom is important (Ghateolbahra &
Samimi, 2021). It is also necessary (Huszti et al., 2022) to take into account three important components
of distance learning: course structure, student autonomy and educational dialogue. The teacher must
provide students with pedagogical support during their independent cognitive activities, provide a
differentiated and individually creative approach, and be able to evaluate their work. One of the options
for presenting the results of students’ research is a poster (Arcila Hernández et al., 2022). The poster
makes it is possible to assess the nature, the depth of the student’s understanding of the conducted
research, and to carry out a critical assessment of the level of research competence.
3. Methods
Design
The research was conducted in three stages. The first stage involved studying the attitude of students and
teachers to distance learning, their successful experiences and failures. The second stage provided for the
development of recommendations on the organization of distance education for the students of technical
majors of HEIs aimed at building research competence, as well as their implementation in the experimental
groups. At the third stage, the effectiveness of the introduced recommendations was determined by
comparing the level of research competence of students in the control and experimental groups. The study
was conducted over two years, from September 2020 to May 2022.
Sample
The sample included 927 students and 17 teachers from three HEIs of Ukraine, who also acted as experts:
Prydniprovska State Academy of Civil Engineering and Architecture, Ukrainian Engineering Pedagogics
Academy, State University of Telecommunications. The criterion for the selection of students was their
technical major, and the teachers teaching of technical and research-related subjects (for example,
Scientific Research in Energy, Planning and Management of Energy Research & Development Projects).
According to the Distance Education Perception Questionnaire, the average values of points scored by
students in all experimental and control groups should have been approximately the same. A total of 271
students were included in the control group, 215 in Experimental Group I, where the research method
was introduced during the study of technical subjects, 213 in Experimental Group II, where research
competence was developed during the study of a special course on the research methodology in a particular
field, and 228 in Experimental Group III, where the research method was introduced during the study
of technical subjects and a special research-related course.
Tool
The authors of this study used the Perception Questionnaire (Astafieva et al., 2020) to find out the students’
attitude to the distance form of education in the formation of their research competence. It contained 20
questions, which were divided into 4 groups. A survey of teachers was also conducted using semi-structured
interviews, and experts determined the level of students’ research competence according to criteria
(Leshchenko et al., 2021). Besides, the students’ self-efficacy during the research was assessed according
to the measures of research self-efficacy (Forester, 2004).
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Data collection
A four-point Likert scale was used to assess students’ perception of distance education. Research
competence was determined according to the Leshchenko’s criteria:
A high level was characterized by in-depth knowledge of the research topic, mastery of the
methodology of conducting research and processing the obtained results, a high level of motivation to
deepen knowledge and carry out further research (3 points on the Likert scale).
A sufficient level was achieved by students who had knowledge of the basic concepts of the research
topic, mastered the methodology of conducting research, were able to carry out research planning,
information search, information processing, its analysis and interpretation. They were willing to work
on improving their level of research competence (2 points on the Likert scale).
The low level characterized students who did not have deep knowledge of the research topic. They did
not master the methodology of carrying out research. They had no or weak motivation to conduct
research. They did not know how to work with scientific literature. They had no desire to increase the
level of research competence (1 point on the Likert scale).
The students’ self-efficacy when conducting the research according to the measures of research self-
efficacy (Forester, 2004) was assessed on a one-point scale, where 0 is the absence of such a skill, and
100 is perfect mastery of it.
Data analysis
Mathematical data processing methods and Statistica software were used during data analysis. The Pearson
correlation coefficient was determined, which ranged from 2.7 to 3.4 for the control group, and about 1.55
for the experimental group. When determining the self-efficacy of students during the research, the values
of the Pearson correlation coefficient ranged from 30 to 103. Cohen’s kappa coefficient was also established,
which helped to identify the effect from using the proposed ways of building research competence.
Ethical criteria
Participation in the study was voluntary. All participants provided their written consent to participate in the
study. The survey was anonymous, free of charge. The duration of the surveys did not exceed 40 minutes.
4. Results
In order to reduce the impact of different perceptions of distance learning in different groups on the
research results, the sample was formed with approximately the same average value in the control and
experimental groups. However, the introduction of recommendations on the level of research competence
of students of technical majors changed the students’ attitude to distance education (Table 1).
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Table 1.
Results of determining students’ perception of distance education
Pre-test
Post-test (score difference)
All
groups
CG
EG І.
EG ІІ.
EG ІІІ.
І
Utility
1.1
Does the distance learning contribute to the acquisition of
knowledge, skills and abilities?
2.8
+0.1
+0.3
+0.2
+0.3
1.2.
Does distance learning make the learning process more
effective?
2.3
+0.2
+0.3
+0.2
+0.3
1.3.
Does distance learning contribute to the increased
performance?
3.1
+0.2
+0.4
+0.2
+0.4
1.4.
Does distance learning enable understanding the
educational material?
2.0
-0.1
+0.2
+0.1
+0.2
1.5.
Does the distance learning facilitate the perception of
educational material?
1.8
-0.3
+0.1
0
+0.1
ІІ
Computer self-efficacy
2.1.
Do you have access to learning materials and resources
during distance learning?
3.2
+0.4
+0.4
+0.4
+0.5
2.2.
Can you use all materials and resources without further
explanation?
2.7
+0.6
+0.5
+0.5
+0.5
2.3.
Can you independently solve problems that arise in the
course of distance learning?
2.9
+0.2
+0.3
+0.1
+0.4
2.4.
Do you have enough skills to use ICT in the educational
process?
3.4
+0.3
+0.4
+0.3
+0.4
2.5.
Are there technical difficulties that prevent distance
learning?
3.5
-0.4
-0.7
-0.3
-0.7
ІІІ
Simplicity
3.1.
Is the interface of the resources used in distance learning
convenient for you?
3.1
+0.2
+0.3
+0.2
+0.3
3.2.
Is communication with the teacher sufficiently established?
2.7
+0.3
+0.6
+0.2
+0.5
3.3.
Is communication with groupmates well established?
3.0
+0.7
+0.7
+0.8
+0.7
3.4.
Are the tools you use for reporting to the teacher
convenient?
2.9
+0.2
+0.3
+0.2
+0.3
3.5.
Do you have the opportunity to ask the teacher questions,
if they arise?
2.6
+0.1
+0.4
+0.2
+0.4
ІV
General attitude
4.1.
Are you interested in distance learning?
2.9
+0.2
+0.4
+0.3
+0.4
4.2.
Does distance learning evoke your positive emotions?
2.9
+0.1
+0.4
+0.2
+0.4
4.3.
Does distance learning evoke your negative emotions?
2.7
-0.1
-0.5
-0.2
-0.5
4.4.
Do you think that distance education supports your interest
in learning?
2.8
+0.1
+0.3
+0.2
+0.3
4.5.
Do you think distance learning is boring and uninteresting?
2.4
-0.1
-0.6
-0.4
-0.6
As Table 1 shows, the students’ attitude to the distance learning changed in the course of this study. The
positive influence of research methods of learning on the attitude of students of technical majors to this
form of education was found. It was also established that the introduction of subjects for studying the
peculiarities of research work did not have such a strong impact on the improvement of students' perception
of distance learning.
Besides, the answers to the open-ended questions of the questionnaire revealed the difficulties that the
students of technical majors face during distance learning. These include the following:
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1) lack or low-quality feedback;
2) lack of previous experience for independent acquisition of new knowledge, therefore low interest in
learning;
3) lack of practice, working with real devices in laboratories leads to lack of practical skills;
4) presentation of educational material in the form of texts does not motivate learning.
The survey of teachers of the sample made it possible to reveal their attitude to distance learning (Figure
1) and the difficulties they faced in preparing and conducting distance learning. As Figure 1 shows, more
than a third of all teachers do not consider distance education to be effective.
Figure 1.
The teachers’ attitude to distance education
The underlying reasons include the following:
1) lack of the opportunity to see all students as in offline learning. This leads to a misunderstanding of
the students’ perception of new material and timely correction of its presentation in accordance with
the situation;
2) students’ lack of communication skills in the virtual space creates certain obstacles during
conversations, reports, discussions, performances, etc.;
3) inability to track the degree of independence in the performance of homework and test assignments;
4) difficulties associated with the creation of educational content. A lot of time spent on shooting training
videos, especially with technical equipment, on creating digital diagrams, formulas, etc., the need for
special technical support, lack of proper digital skills.
Recommendations were developed for the organization of distance learning, which would contribute to the
development of research competence of students of technical majors. They include:
1) Introducing students to research activities as early as possible, even in the first years of study at a HEI.
2) Implementing a special course that introduces students to the basics of conducting the research and
promotes the development of their research competence. As a result of learning the course, students
should learn to formulate research objectives, advance hypotheses, select research methods, and
conduct research. At the same time, it is necessary to teach students to use basic digital resources that
undeniably
promising
18%
promising
47%
unpromising
24%
absolutely inappropriate
11%
The teachers' attitude to distance
education
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allow to speed up the process of searching and processing large amounts of information, for example,
web systems for monitoring scientific publications, use and dissemination of research results. The
students should acquire the skills of searching in bibliographic databases, information and analytical
services of open digital archives, use scientometric platforms, etc. It is important for students to learn
to analyses and interpret the obtained research results, to be able to present and disseminate them.
3) Develop the research competence during the study of other subjects by using the research method of
learning.
4) Texts of lectures should not be presented as a monolith, but should be divided into small parts. Each
part shall be followed by students’ knowledge check with the use of several questions. The student
would be able to proceed to the next part of the lecture only by giving the correct answer to the
questions. The material should be presented in the form of a dialogue with an imaginary interlocutor
(asking questions and giving answers to them). The truth should not be communicated to the students
immediately, they must come to it through research or experiment.
5) Applying active learning methods (problematic, project, case study, flipped classroom). The time
allocated for an online meeting with students should not be spent on the teacher voicing the lecture,
which the students can read independently even before the meeting based on the materials provided
by the teacher, or watch the video lectures recorded by the teacher or selected from the Internet. It
should be spent on discussing the questions that students had while viewing or reading educational
material. It is also appropriate to spend the meeting time on completing practical assignments and
training skills. It is better to use extracurricular time to complete problematic and creative assignments.
6) The resolution of the problematic issue formulated by the teacher should be the result of research
conducted by students. At the same time, it is worth dividing complex problems into component parts
and distributing them among small groups of students.
7) The assignments should be formulated in such a way that their completion requires research, they
should not be obvious or predictable. Giving freedom to students when choosing assignments.
8) The research objectives and projects can be jointly fulfilled and implemented with the help of Wiki.
Research results can also be presented in the form of posters. This helps students to develop brevity
in expressing their thoughts, to learn to distinguish the main thing without being distracted by the
secondary information.
During the research, the students of the experimental group took an active part in research and
development in the research centers operating at their HEIs. Students also participated in competitions of
students’ studies. The necessary technical equipment was used for building research competence, which
can be used in the fulfilment of the research objectives set by the teacher for offline learning. In the
distance learning setting, the teachers used the equipment to formulate research objectives that students
had to fulfil independently, applying all their previous knowledge and available resources.
Determining the level of research competence of students of technical majors during distance learning
showed positive results in all three experimental groups (Figure 2). However, the highest effect was
achieved in EG III.
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Figure 2.
The effectiveness of the use of digital technologies according to the answers of future PhDs and
teachers
Table 2 provides the results of the evaluation of students’ self-efficacy in research activities.
Table 2.
Results of the evaluation of students’ research self-efficacy
Pre-test
Post-test (score difference)
All groups
CG
EG І.
EG ІІ.
EG ІІІ.
Confidence in one’s ability to complete work on the
project.
57
+3
+5
+7
+9
Compliance with ethical standards of research.
45
+2
+7
+9
+10
Generating research ideas.
36
+4
+10
+11
+12
Interaction in the research community
59
+7
+12
+8
+13
Discussing research ideas with colleagues
61
+9
+12
+10
+14
Asking senior colleagues for help with ideas
78
-2
-4
+3
+5
Self-limitation in the search for information
44
+3
+7
+6
+8
Conducting a literature search
67
+5
+11
+9
+14
Self-limitation in the generation of ideas
52
+3
+4
+6
+7
Generalization of the literature
60
+6
+13
+8
+15
Outlining further research directions based on
literature review
49
+3
+5
+4
+8
Justification of research ideas
56
+4
+7
+7
+8
Determining research objectives
51
+3
+6
+7
+9
Ability to present research ideas in writing
48
+4
+5
+6
+8
Editing and shortening the text
62
+7
+14
+15
+19
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80%
CG
EG І
EG ІІ
EG ІІІ
The level of research competence
low level sufficient level high level
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Presentation of the research idea
69
+6
+13
+6
+16
Using criticism of a research idea in order to improve
it
57
+3
+8
+9
+12
Choice of research design
36
+2
+6
+8
+10
Demonstrating flexibility in the development of
alternative ways of research
38
+2
+5
+6
+12
Selection of the necessary methods of analysis of the
obtained results
53
+3
+7
+9
+13
Obtaining special permits for research
54
+7
+10
+12
+16
Selection of necessary equipment for research
49
+4
+12
+13
+15
Data collection
63
+5
+14
+14
+17
Performance of experimental measurements
68
+6
+11
+12
+14
Verification of the reliability of the obtained data
56
+3
+5
+6
+7
Careful assessment of every detail of data collection
51
+2
+5
+6
+7
Arranging the obtained data for analysis
64
+3
+7
+9
+11
Using ICT for analysis of obtained data
72
+6
+12
+13
+17
Interpretation of the obtained data
58
+3
+14
+12
+16
Generalization of the results of the conducted
research
51
+4
+9
+8
+15
Identifying research limitations
63
+3
+8
+7
+9
Determining the place and role of research findings
for further research
57
+3
+9
+7
+10
On average, the pre-test showed approximately the same results in all three experimental and control
groups. Table 2 presents the difference in students’ self-assessment of research competence at the
beginning and at the end of the research.
It was established that the weighted sum of squared deviations from the mean is caused by the
heterogeneity of the sample, associated with conducting research in different educational institutions and
different groups. The null hypothesis turned out to be invalid, because the root mean square deviations for
the same questionnaire question in different HEIs of the sample were different, and the intergroup variance,
which describes the fluctuations of these groups, and the intragroup variance, which describes the
fluctuations caused by random factors not taken into account, were also equal. At the same time, it was
found using the Pearson correlation coefficient that χ1
2 values obtained for the experimental groups are
greater than χ2
2 values calculated for the control group. Using the Cohen’s kappa coefficient, it was
established that the greatest effect was in the Experimental Group III. That is, the development of research
competence among students of technical majors is best facilitated by distance learning, the combination of
the research method in the study of technical subjects and the introduction of a special course on the
basics of conducting research.
5. Discussion
The experience gained during the 2020 pandemic irrevocably changed the education system (Suriagiri et
al., 2022). Teachers have developed additional video materials, manuals, test assignments, quizzes, with
the aim of encouraging students to engage in active learning activities, stimulating students’ independent
learning and developing various skills (Wakes & Dunn, 2023). This experience resulted in the emergence
of a culture of distance collaboration, cooperation and coordination (Stracke et al., 2022). Although there
are still differences in the attitude of teachers to distance education. For example, primary school teachers
have the most positive attitude towards distance learning, compared to university teachers (Dashtestani,
2020). However, most teachers, having learnt new teaching methods, will never return to traditional