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The article discusses the possibilities of using information technologies for the distant learning of foreign English-speaking students at the Department of Normal physiology of the Burdenko state medical University. The example of teaching disciplines - "Normal physiology", "Physics. Mathematics" - in the intermediary language in the distant learning system, as well as a brief overview of a distant class, and the algorithm for creating courses in the electronic educational environment MOODLE are under consideration. The transition to a distance learning format against the background of the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to a number of difficulties faced by both students and a teaching staff of the department. In the current situation, the conduct of the educational process is complicated by the inability to comply with certain formats of classes, such as laboratory work and group projects; the academic exchanges are lost as well. There are the problems of mastering students' practical skills, deep analysis of theoretical material, and finding solutions. It seems that the use of information technologies should eliminate these difficulties, but the experience of working in a remote format indicates that it is impossible to select a universal teaching methodology. Students are distinguished by the level of basic training, foreign language proficiency, motivation factor and, sometimes, technical capabilities of working online. In this regard, the consideration of options for balancing full-time and online learning, the study of factors affecting students' ability to learn are of special interest. We suggest that the distance learning can be a valuable addition to the traditional forms of the educational process, but not a substitute for it.

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Information technologies are becoming more and more actively implemented and used in the work of University tutors, becoming an integral part of distant education. These include the result of collective creativity, which can be active or passive. Active resources include models, programs, knowledge bases, etc., while passive resources include books, terminology dictionaries, and encyclopedias [Shapovalova: 121]. Up to now, the Department of Normal physiology of VSMU named after N.N. Burdenko has accumulated extensive experience in the teaching the disciplines "Normal physiology", "Physiological basis of actual medical problems", and "Physics. Mathematics" in the intermediary language (English). This contributes to the effective implementation of the educational process with students from countries where this language has the status of the state language (India). The purpose of the work was to consider distant learning opportunities of the Department of Normal physiology in teaching disciplines "Normal physiology" and "Physics. Mathematics" in the intermediary language (English) for the 1st and the 2nd year students of the General Medicine faculty of the medical University. Distant learning tools and problematics. For today, the educational and auxiliary complex for the above-mentioned disciplines is represented by the following didactic materials in English: - textbook «Normal physiology» [Dorokhov Ye.V. et al., 2021]; - workbooks: «General Physiology», «Blood and cardiovascular system», «Respiration. Digestion. Excretion», «Integrative physiology» [Dorokhov E.V. et al., 2016], as well as «Physics. Mathematics» [Dorokhov E.V. et al., 2020], «Laboratory practicum in Physics. Mathematics» [Dorokhov E.V. et al., 2019]; - complex of computer programs «Interactive physiology», virtual laboratory workshop for studying the discipline «Normal physiology»; - electronic educational complex for the discipline «Normal physiology» (with its basic and auxiliary sections) - «Age physiology», dedicated for self-directed students’ learning; - a set of pedagogical control materials (exam cards, tasks, practical skills, situational tasks, a bank of test tasks). One of the important aspects of teaching the Department's disciplines is the issue of motivation [Bayeva: 192]. At the same time, students are motivated by the prospect of computer technologies in the educational process. The Internet is filled with a large number of services that are convenient to combine in the educational process - forums, chats, blocks, email. All of it can be used as a supplement to traditional forms of education, effectively increasing the tutor's communication with students [Zatsepina: 7]. These services are provided by the MOODLE remote face-to-face training system (Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment), which allows creating a single information space for students and teachers, combining the traditional values of full-time learning with information and communication technologies. The Moodle distant learning system is a modern, progressive, constantly evolving environment. It has a rich set of modules - components for courses: chat, survey, forum, glossary, test, lecture [Kravchenko: 5; Tyunina: 358]. Due to the fact that in the third generation of the Federal state educational standard, independent work makes up a significant part of the total number of hours allocated to the course, serious attention is paid to the self-directed work of students in a convenient place and pace. In connection with the above, the Department has created an additional distant learning course for students' independent work "Age physiology", which examines the processes of changing physiological functions as the human body ages. The course contains the materials for independent training in the specialized theoretical material of the General Medicine faculty, namely, the problems of aging of various physiological systems, elements of the educational and methodical complex, including guidelines for self-directed learning of students, as well as control and measurement materials for evaluating student academic performance. All the e-courses of the Department located on the website, are compiled in a strict accordance with the programs of the subjects taught. According to the University guidelines about electronic educational and methodological complexes, our e-courses include methodological sections (a discipline card according to the curriculum, methodological guidelines for tutors and instructions to students, programs of disciplines), training sections (lecture material on topics, glossary, textbooks and manuals, presentations and videos), control sections (final testing, exam questions, tasks for control work). For the convenience of the educational process, due to the extensive list of disciplines studied, each thematic block contains not only theoretical material of the class, additional training elements (videos, presentations, drawings, diagrams, links to additional information resources), but also control (tests of the current and final level of knowledge), as well as a forum for students, which is used for feedback from tutors (communication section). Distant class in the discipline at the Department of Normal physiology consists of two parts, including: an online class in the Webinar system, and work in the electronic educational environment MOODLE. The structure of classes in Webinar includes checking the initial level of knowledge of the students (15 minutes), an oral interview with a detailed analysis of theoretical material (using presentations and videos - 45 minutes), doing practical work (Interactive physiology program, videos), recording the results of the experiments in a workbook (15 minutes) and analyzing situational tasks-cases (15 minutes). Students’ work in the electronic educational system MOODLE (self-directed learning) includes doing the current level of knowledge test in the sections of the discipline "Normal physiology", and additional section "Age physiology". Questions are selected randomly from the test bank, and students have the possibility to adjust their work to achieve a better result. At the end of the study the discipline sections, the students complete the final test, including the tests of current level of knowledge. List of sections studied in the discipline "Physics. Mathematics" includes the following blocks: Mathematics; Acoustics; Hemodynamics; Optics; Thermal radiation; Electrodynamics with bases of medical electronics; Radioactivity; Physical processes in the biological membranes. Remote training includes passing the current level of knowledge tests, solving problems in a workbook. Laboratory work is performed using videos of experiments taken specifically for students to work outside the classroom. The video offers a clear algorithm for laboratory training followed by mathematical calculations. In the following, students send a report on the work done to the tutor's email address. Thus, the integration of the distant learning in the educational process at the Department of Normal physiology of VSMU using an intermediary language allows conducting remote classes for students, including those located outside the Russian Federation. Problems and ways of their solving. However, it is worth noting a number of significant problems that arise when working with foreign students and possible ways to solve them. First, foreign students are characterized by different levels of English proficiency; unfortunately, we are often talking about pre-intermediate and intermediate levels. Difficulties arise when reading textbooks, manuals, and methodological literature on the discipline. Secondly, difficulties in listening to new information - hence the inability or in some cases even the impossibility to record lecture material [Evdokimova: 112]. As a solution to this problem, students are offered an additional active use of the MOODLE learning platform, where teachers of the Department place educational theoretical material described in detail above; placement of a large number of illustrations, diagrams and tables that facilitate understanding and systematize students' knowledge. As teachers we have long been working on developing material which would foster learner autonomy and allow students to work more independently. The situation with pandemic of COVID-19 in our country let us to examine some of the considerations when preparing self-access material for our students, either as a complement to more traditional classwork, or as a way of extending learning beyond the traditional university setting. We were looking at how to design individual activities and also how to structure a sequence of activities which students can work through independently. Perhaps the organizing problem-oriented lectures with a mandatory interactive mode of communication with the audience should also be considered. This is the only way to get an answer from students and understand the degree of assimilation of new material. The lecturer addresses questions, drawing out a problem for students, which is solved later in the logical explanation of the material. Third, teachers who evaluate the oral answer of students find it difficult to understand the English language of citizens who have pronounced dialectical features. As a solution, it is recommended that tutors who teach English-speaking students supervise such groups and increase the time spent communicating with them during curatorial hours, thereby improving their foreign language skills [Evdokimova: 112]. Fourth, despite the fact that the distant learning has become highly important due to the COVID-19 pandemic, both secondary and higher education have been forced to switch to a new format of learning using Internet technologies. Modern virtual methods of conducting the educational process should make it possible to preserve the classical forms of education or be similar to them, for example, the implementation of an oral exam (test) in a remote format. The need to solve this problem is especially acute when organizing educational activities with students from other countries. The Department of Normal physiology has developed and implemented an algorithm for creating virtual exam cards containing control material, which is presented personally and randomly for conducting an oral exam (test) online, in a remote format, on the MOODLE system platform. Fifth, different basic training of students is also difficult for a tutor, since there are representatives of different countries in the same student group and, accordingly, the requirements for their secondary education were also different. As a result, there are problems in understanding the material, when it is necessary to synthesize and analyze knowledge from other disciplines that are closely related to physiology, such as physics, chemistry, biology, etc. Often, the complexity of the subject generates a low interest of students. In this regard, it should also be noted such a subjective problem as the presence of motivation and interest in education for foreign citizens. As a rule, students whose choice of medical profession was made consciously and independently have a good academic performance, they use a large number of additional literature in preparation for classes, ask the tutor and lecturer questions on topics that they could not understand on their own, and seek to assist during laboratory experiments. Another group consists of students who entered the University because of the prestige of this profession or at the insistence of their parents; as a result, the training of such students due to the lack of personal interest becomes ineffective and almost impossible [Evdokimova: 113]. Sixth, online education cannot replace the experience of studying abroad; exploring the country, city, or University, and it will not allow maintaining academic exchanges. Many universities note: you can teach remotely, but not always and not everything - there is no possibility to do group projects, some formats (for example, work in laboratories) are generally not portable to the Internet. Quality is lost - and we must take into account that higher education often costs a lot of money. As solutions to the problems, the following options are considered: partially or completely online training; changing the mode of visiting individual locations - such as laboratories or libraries; developing hybrid forms of training that will combine elements of full-time and online training (the presence of some students at lectures, and the rest of students - online); finding a balance between full-time and online learning, as students are largely isolated at home in an online learning situation, which can negatively affect their physical and mental health, as well as their ability to study normally. Conclusion. It should be noted that the live communication between students and tutors is hard to beat, and the creation of additional sections of distant education in an intermediary language for foreign students can be a convenient and useful means of additional education in the framework of independent learning. Medical universities that are at the origins of the program for the development of multilingual and multicultural competences of teaching using the intermediary language have accumulated significant experience, understanding of which will determine the prospects for the development of this form of education and its role in the formation of the multilingual space of a medical University in Russia. Introduction and improvement of various forms of teaching using the intermediary language in Russian medical universities is an important way to integrate Russian universities into the world educational space on the basis of internationalization of the language of instruction. [Zhura: 74]. Training specialists for foreign countries is related to the export of educational services and is one of the most important areas in the foreign economic activity of the state, especially given the fact that competition in the education market is growing every year [Gerbik: 125]. At the same time, the problem of the quality of education comes out on top [Maslovskaya: 226]. Foreign students, in addition to obtaining professional knowledge, are guides of the Russian language and traditions of Russian culture in their countries.

About the authors

Y. S. Bayeva

Voronezh State Medical University


A. P Astashchenko

Voronezh State Medical University


O. I Tyunina

Voronezh State Medical University



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