Evolution in the regulatory framework for distance learning in a pandemic environment- the experience of Bulgaria


Andrey Zahariev1*, Petya Ivanova2, Angel Angelov3 and Galina Zaharieva4

1Prof. Dr., D. A. Tsenov Academy of Economics, Svishtov, Bulgaria, andrey.zahariev.1971@gmail.com

2Assoc. Prof. Dr., D. A. Tsenov Academy of Economics, Svishtov, Bulgaria, p.ivanova@uni-svishtov.bg

3Assoc. Prof. Dr., D. A. Tsenov Academy of Economics, Svishtov, Bulgaria, a.angelov@uni-svishtov.bg

4Assoc. Prof. Dr., D. A. Tsenov Academy of Economics, Svishtov, Bulgaria, g.zaharieva@uni-svishtov.bg

*Corresponding author



In higher education, students and doctoral students are a key factor in testing and developing innovative research methods and pedagogical techniques. Their focus is on the present and future of educational technology in its historical variation from face-to-face learning, through distance learning (d-learning), e-learning (e-learning), mobile learning (m-learning) and u-learning (u-learning). The full-time form, the part-time form and the distance learning form are imposed as forms of education in the European Higher Education Area. Distance learning is inherently one of the most attractive forms of higher education. Its technological richness and the absence of a direct need to leave the workplace or place of residence provide an increasing opportunity for its use by managers, professionals, and "lifelong learners". This calls for a national regulation of distance learning in higher education. The main aim of the paper is to analyse the Bulgarian experience in the national regulation of distance learning in higher education from the first national ordinance enforced in 2004 and the new Cvid-19 in medias ordinance from 2021. In 2004, distance learning was defined as an organization of the learning process in which the student and the teacher are separated in terms of their location, but not necessarily in terms of time, as the distance created is compensated by technological means. The Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the current trends in digital technology, combined with strategic documents at national and European level, logically necessitate an update of the regulatory framework for distance learning in the EU member states and in particular in the Republic of Bulgaria. Based on one-year discussions within a working group of representatives of the Ministry of Education and Science, the National Centre for Distance Learning and leading universities in terms of experience and technology, a new Ordinance on state requirements for organizing distance learning in of higher education has been developed and adopted in 2021. The ordinance is also coordinated with the National Agency for Evaluation and Accreditation. The role of the agency is to assess the distance form of education in two stages - assessing the level of the environment in the respective higher school and assessing the opportunities for conducting distance learning in a specific professional field or specialty of the regulated professions. The new ordinance published in the State Gazette in March 2021 (in force since September 1, 2021) provides a new definition of the distance-learning form of higher education, which is specified in three separate paragraphs. It is defined that “a form of higher education in which students, teachers and administrators can be separated by location, but not necessarily by time, as the distance created is compensated by technologies, methods and means of e-learning”. The role of digital technologies has been introduced - "Distance learning is realized through digital technologies for managing the learning process, based on a system of different type, location and time of use of human, material and information activities and resources." The process approach is integrated in teaching - "To compensate for the distance, the higher schools model the respective educational and administrative activities as information processes and implement them through information and communication technologies." In addition to award higher education degrees, higher education institutions are allowed to organize distance learning and to improve the qualification of specialists with higher education, as well as for continuing and additional professional training. In view of the degree of information and technological provision in the implementation of distance learning, the environment for its implementation is classified into four levels. They are bound by the right to conduct training for the acquisition of the relevant degrees of higher education. The possibility for remote conducting of semester and final state examinations and videoconference defence of diploma theses is regulated. As a result of the new regulation, a triple positive effect was achieved. Students improve their digital skills for working in an electronic environment. It has a positive effect on teachers as qualification and skills for work through the means of e-learning, lecture courses are digitalized. Higher education institutions implement simultaneously the government policy for increasing the quality of education, the efficiency of the organization of the educational process and the administrative procedures. Finally, the national information and educational infrastructure is being improved, which helps to connect them in European and global networks for higher education. The main conclusion of the study is that the Covid-19 and the new regulation of distance learning pushed forward all Bulgarian universities on the road of fast digitalization and introduction of the most advanced e-learning technologies.

Keywords: E-Learning, Covid-19, Distance Learning


DOI: https://doi.org/10.46529/socioint.202102

CITATION:Abstracts & Proceedings of SOCIOINT 2021- 8th International Conference on Education and Education of Social Sciences, 14-15 June 2021

ISBN: 978-605-06286-2-3