A Chinese proverb says: "Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand." Precisely the idea of interactivity and higher student involvement lies at the core of the Platform for additional e-learning, which Medical University - Varna introduced officially at the beginning of the new academic year 2014-2015. In response to the current needs of the numerous Bulgarian and international students of the University and in line with the dynamics and global requirements in education, the two-year project under OP "Human Resources Development" is oriented towards the effective and appropriate use of the latest information and network technologies. The innovative training method was presented at the closing press conference, which was held on 10th October at MU-Varna.
Within the project "Development of Electronic Distance Learning Forms in the System of Medical University "Prof. Dr. Paraskev Stoyanov" – Varna", a Centre for Electronic Distance Learning was established, which introduced a special platform (Blackboard), widely used in the UK, the USA and around the world, and conducted a training for some of the lecturers. Self-study at convenient for the student time, testing the lessons learned, watching real clinical cases and situations in medical practice with specific assignments to them, application and experimentation of the lessons learned - these are just some of the numerous advantages and opportunities for implementation of the new electronic platform for additional training, which was presented by the director of the Centre for Electronic Distance Learning, the head of the Department of Foreign Languages , Communication and Sports at MU-Varna Assoc. Prof. Ivan Merdzhanov. The ultimate goal of the additional resource is to establish a healthy symbiosis between classical and electronic methods of training between the lecturer and the student in order to maximize the effectiveness and quality of training.
"Our University is situated in a very competitive and dynamic environment, rapidly developing technologies and innovations, both in education and in the field of medical science and biotechnology," said the Vice Rector for Academic Affairs Assoc. Prof. Albena Kerekovska, who presented the project. "Our students are very demanding, well-informed and technology and market oriented. We face this challenge, which we regard as an impetus and a driving force for development - in order to be competitive."
At present, every student of MU-Varna has a password to the system, which they can use from anywhere, at any time, even from their mobile phone or tablet, thanks to the mobile application. Signing in their account, students fall into one entirely guided by the lecturer virtual environment - video lectures and operation demonstrations, a wide variety of interactive materials according to the specifics of the particular discipline, atlases, tests, assignments, simulations. If the assigned self-study task proves to be really difficult to the greater part of the course, the lecturer will revise the problematic issues during the next lecture, he/she will explain them, and give a new assignment. Practically, there is a constant "jumping" from an electronic to a real training environment. Classical, static and passive way of training is being modified into a modern, innovative, dynamic, interactive and attractive to students training model.
The system allows constant communication between students and lecturers. If it is necessary, students can use online and video chat with the lecturer in real time. In a forum and a blog students from different courses can discuss various issues and topics related to education, and exchange information among each other. Besides self-study, testing of the lessons learned and continuous communication, the platform also provides an opportunity to conduct examinations in real time. According to the director of the Centre each Department has to make a decision whether to conduct their examinations in the system or in the conventional way.