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Hajdicsné Varga, K. (2015). National Defence Education in the Hungarian Educational System. Hungarian Educational Research Journal, 5(4), 1-16, DOI :10.14413/herj.2015.04.01.
National Defence Education in the Hungarian Educational System
Katalin Hajdicsné Varga
The study shows how national defence education, that although having played a major role in the Hungarian history and education was almost completely eliminated following the change of regime, has been restored to general and higher education with the help of certain efforts, methods. This educational area was marginalized due to the abolishment of the compulsory military service and as a result a kind of social undervaluation, among others. The restoration of national defence education to schooling has been greatly helped by the new teaching-learning method, distance learning the system of which was built up on the basis of purposeful work, in line with the opportunities provided by the Internet. Our research was conducted by mapping the educational system of the two educational levels. We examined the two well-functioning educational sub-systems of national defence education: National Defence Knowledge that is taught as an optional, one-semester subject of e-learning methods in higher education, and National Defence Basics as a general, optional graduation subject, as well as the teacher trainings connected to the latter. In the civilian higher education, we measured the attitude of the students studying National Defence Knowledge towards the subject and the method of e-learning by a questionnaire survey and we found out that we need to create a large number of varying online material, worksheets and mock exam opportunities for more effective learning.
Keywords: Military education, national military education, National Defence Basics, higher education, e-learning
In Hungary, national defence and the issue of military education started to fall into the background in the 1980s, which became even more pronounced in the early years of the change of regime. The new millenium brought a change, in which it had a decisive role that we joined a new federal system, NATO (1999). The transformation in the area of security policy in Hungary, and furthermore the social changes resulting from the change of regime determined not only the structural reorganization of the Hungarian Defence Forces, but also the role of the organization in the society. The personnel policy and social relations of the volunteer force as an organization changed, which raised several interrelated questions. Since there is no compulsory military service, how and when does the young generation acquire the knowledge connected to national defence? How can relations be established and strengthened with the public, especially with the youth, which may result in an increase in the number of military employees through the acquisition of knowledge and compentences related to national defence, patriotism, military life.
We get an answer from a study of 1998: ’National defence is the concern of the whole society.’ In the work it is expressed that there is a need for ’the maintenance of national security, defence capability, the fulfillment of the obligations associated takes a toll on the citizens. It is not the same if these obligations are considered as constraints forced to the citizens, or they knowingly undertake them as the obligations help achieve their own interests. Patriotic guidance and military education, that is practised in every country in some form using different methods, have a great role in achieving the latter situation.’ (Bognár, 1998).
Since preparation for national defence is an important social interest declared by the Constitution as well, the state – in order to ensure the required knowledge from the public – has to provide the opportunity for the citizens to gain that knowledge. This social demand is reflected in the National Core Curriculum adopted in 2012 which pays special attention to the patriotic guidance of the young generation, forming their national defence identity, the continuous development of a positive attitude to national defence.
When recognizing the importance of patriotic guidance and integrating it into the educational system, such documents provide legislative background that study the issue more and more thoroughly. In accordance with what is ordered by the Minister of Defence in the directive of the Ministry of Defence on ’Certain Tasks Related to the Educational Development of the Reserve System of the Hungarian Army’, the defensive reserve component of the volunteer reserve system of the Hungarian Army started its operation on 1st January, 2011. Subsequently, the third section of the government regulation was issued that assigned the task of developing and introducing the program that aims to popularize civic, national defence education in institutions of primary, secondary and higher education to the Minister of Human Capacities and the Minister of Defence. While section j) of the paragraph 21. (1) of Act CXIII of 2011 on National Defence and the Hungarian Defence Forces and on Measures that May Be Introduced in Case of a Special Legal Order listed the implementation of the national defence education program within the framework of public and higher education among the functions of the government.
The patriotic and national defence education is currently based on two school-based, successfully operating subsystems: National Defence Knowledge that is taught as an optional, one-semester subject of e-learning methods in higher education, and National Defence Basics as a general, optional graduation subject. Teaching of the subject in university education started in 2007, students can choose the subject titled ’National Defence Basics’. Based on the trends, it can be concluded that more and more students are attending the course at more and more institutions.
E-learning and education
In December, 1999, a political initiative was launched the aim of which was to build up an online Europe: the European Union has to ensure that future generations can enjoy the benefits of information society as much as possible. The objectives emphasized that the changes, that are comparable to the industrial revolution and are far-reaching and affecting the whole world, will influence everyone everywhere, in such a way that e-Europe leading to information society will strengthen cohesion and integration. Consequently, the aim of e-Europe is to make the benefits of the information society available for all European citizens. It has to help all citizens, households and schools, companies and organizations enter the digital age and the Internet, it should create a digitally educated Europe where the entrepreneurs are ready to financially support the development of new ideas, it has to ensure that the process is not debarring, it increases consumer confidence and strengthens social cohesion.
In the second half of the 1990s, e-learning appeared to be the most important possibility of renewal in mass higher education worldwide. The idea of a virtual university was primarily aimed at the renewal of distance education due to the growing importance of lifelong learning, while the spreading of e-learning and blended learning courses, or the partial, but steadily increasing use of ICT technology anticipated the modernization of higher education and the whole education system. However, based on the experience of the past decade, the spread of ICT and the new forms of education has not brought revolutionary changes into higher education. As a contrast to the sometimes noisy successes of short period learning cycles – e.g. successful adult education courses, usually with the aim of catching up with minimum competencies, undertaken in developing countries – and informal learning, virtual universities or e-learning and blended learning courses at universities focusing on the teaching of certain subjects have lived up to the expectations only partially so far (Tóth, 2007).
Objectives and methods of patriotic, national defence, military education
The direction of education is determined by the educational objective the contents of which depend on what the given society considers valuable and exemplary. If we examine the occurrence of the concepts of homeland, soldier, etc., it is immediately apparent that in Sparta the brave soldier was in the focus of education who sacrificed everything for his country, while in Rome the education of the rhetor, the soldier and the officer was central. In Athens, the ideal man complied with the principle of ’kalokagathia’, men as simple people were also able to become heroes, therefore in case of war everyone felt obliged to fight (however, they did not have an organized army). Education was performed by private tutors, they had only one state institute where boys received political and military preparatory training from the age of 15. The 15-17 year old boys were called melephebes (‘would-be ephebes’) to distinguish them from the 18-20 year old ephebes who received organized military training: as a practice they participated in the defence of the borders or performed law enforcement duties in the port of Athens. After having taken the oath, they performed border guard service, then they became full-fledged citizens of Athens. Knighthood was a way of life in the Middle Ages, in case of war knights were available as a significant branch in the armed forces in service of the ruler, chivalric education took place in aristocratic courts, not in schools from the age of 7.
In Hungary, aristocratic courts were in many cases also the centres ruling border lands from the 16th century, therefore the training also presented management practices of the border lands. During the training, the youth was given military education rather than professional knowledge, the three keystones of their education were traditionalism and virtue, discipline and obedience, loyalty and the fear of God. In the 17th century, the nature of military training changed: it took place at institutions, in the form of organized, well-considered education. It was due to three reasons: firstly, the Ottoman Empire had been threatening even the western countries, therefore a powerful, efficient, well-trained Christian army was needed, secondly, on the basis of the changes in the military affairs of the century, the so-called military revolution, permanent armies with significant number of soldiers were created, thirdly, pedagogy became an independent science at the same time. In contrast with the European practice, our country did not have a permanent, powerful army by the 17th century, ranks of officers were either purchased or the officer positions resulted directly from gentility. If we have a look at the characteristics of the history of education in the 18th-19th century, we can point out a factor which affected the military training of the period: professions, consequently the knowledge of military profession, expertise became publicly expressed needs; education, including professional and military education, became a public and state affair; the school system gave way to selection, new types of schools and their lower and upper levels were formed. Middle schools, as well as ’main’ and ’sub-’ levels later appeared in military training. In this type of school professional military knowledge entered the curriculum as well, since extensive theoretical knowledge was required due to the interrelations of skills and the expectations of the prospective military leaders (e.g. civil and military architecture, geography and terrain knowledge, history and military history, etc.) (Miklós, 2009).
Patriotism, love of the country, home defence – these concepts were important through our history and have not lost their value since. All that are included in the concepts of patriotism, love of the country and the nation, home defence were set as educational goals in every period of Hungarian pedagogy, teaching and education.
Ödön Weszely was the first to sum up the results of pedagogy as a science in the Hungarian public education in his book published in 1905. We can find the key-word patriotic education within the subject of civic education in the second, enlarged edition of 1932. In its definition we can find all the contents that are acceptable for us today – as a member state of the EU: „It seems almost absurd that a citizen of a certain state should take a stand against the interests of his own country. Although everyone should be tolerant and fair to the citizens of other states, people can not deny their natural feelings. Since they must love their homeland, the area where they were born and where they live and wish to prosper, to which they are attached. … Patriotism is primarily the love of the country, but in addition it is the love of the nation. Therefore, patriotic education is national education. We can only rise up to the human race through it, extending humane feelings, the appreciation and love of other people to the whole of humanity.” (Weszely, 1932, p. 159).
Nowadays, schools have a major responsibility for the education of the coming generation having the above mentioned in view, in forming ethical national identity, responsibility for the protection of our homeland. All school activities should serve the development of the students (intellectual skills, physical and mental, social skills, etc.). Our goal is to provide students with useful knowledge, experience, examples to follow regarding activities and people who live, work and can do a lot for our homeland among the basic, common standards represented in the national core curriculum and local curricula, as well as in the course of working out areas of learning, thus contributing to the formation of positive attitudes, behaviours, habits (Fürstné Kólyi, 1998).
In 1998, two issues of Iskolakultúra, a periodical of educational sciences, dealt with home defence. The issues of 4/1998 and 10/1998, that were published with the support of the Ministry of Defence, provided the teachers with wide knowledge to formulate national and European security tasks. The first issue, that is closely related to our topic, bearing the sub-title NATIONAL DEFENCE AND MILITARY EDUCATION, was published with reference to our accession to NATO and discussed the topics of the Maastricht Treaty, the European Union, the Schengen Agreement, territorial sovereignty and national defence. In the thematic issue we can find István Bábosik’s work among others; his writing deals with the role of school in forming patriotism. The representation of patriotic ideas is the traditional field of national socialization, a form of community education: patriotic education, that contributes to the development of the national community, is part of the national education serving the needs of every national state (Géczi, 2006). „Within the framework of patriotic education, adequate constructive habits, role models, ideals and beliefs of the interests of the nation are transmitted, made accepted and reinforced in practice. If this work is successful, the behaviour, functions and activities of the educated will take on a character to serve community development from internal motivation, without any external stimulation or control, under the influence of established democratic national attitudes and the valuable needs constituting it.” (Bábosik, 1998, p. 48).
The politician responsible for education emphasized in his writing titled Thoughts on Patriotic Education that „Patriotic sentiment, identity, love of the country and everything related to this thematic concept can be formed and taught only indirectly. This is important because it deepens and makes patriotism conscious. … The most important element of the indirect approach is the teaching of the Hungarian geography, history and cultural history – and, above all, the Hungarian literature. It is natural that within the framework of geography, students must be introduced to the landscapes, natural resources, flora and fauna, economic geography of our country in the most detail. Instructional trips, excursions should complete and add a personal touch to what the students have already learned. … It is fundamental in the European way of thinking that each nation trains its own citizens to love and appreciate his homeland. … we can only have respect for other cultures, their history and mentality if we respect ourselves, primarily. Only those can set high value on foreign cultures who knows his own well. This is the purpose and the objective of patriotic education. We should know ourselves and pay attention to others.” (Dobos, 1998, p. 60).
Since the change of regime, there has been several changes that has also brought along changes in patriotic and national defence education. Since that time the world around us has become more complex and complicated, our uncertainties and sense of threat have transformed qualitatively. Just some of the reasons are listed: the socialist world system collapsed, the organization of the Warsaw Treaty was terminated, Hungary became a member of NATO, we became a full member of the EU in summer, 2004, there was a major terrorist attack in the USA on 11th September, 2001, the Hungarian Defence Forces now consists of voluntary and professional soldiers. These and countless other factors indicate with an elemental force that national defence education has to meet qualitatively new requirements and give new, acceptable, convincing answers to the questions raised. It is unavoidable to elaborate and practise a new military culture, which is a well-understood, primary interest of ours. In our educational work, increasing emphasis and importance should be given to security and defence policy, not only in a national sense, but also in a European and global manner (Vasas, 2009a).
Our emotion for the homeland is a personal issue, it is not a political category, therefore noone can be trained for patriotism, but we can try to form the attitudes towards basic social and national values – such as the willingness to serve the homeland. Since it is a long process, it is advisable to start it at the youngest age possible. The task requires the participation of several collaborators: the family, the school, the Hungarian Army, civil organizations all have work to do.
„National defence education is not a separate and distinct educational task, but an exact orientation that has to be enforced at almost every aspect of education, it is a specific expression of idealism. Of course, this does not mean that there are not any particular tasks in the whole of the educational work that has to be accurately determined, defined. By national defence education we mean such a complex formation of the personality through which the individual should be able, as well as emotionally and volitionally prepared to build and protect our homeland in all respects. He should actively and effectively work, struggle and fight against anything that delays, hinders the progress of our homeland – at national and international level – and if necessary, he should be able to protect the homeland with weapons.” (Vasas, 2009b, p. 147).
According to an opinion of 2009, for the creation of a new military culture, for the meaningful and effective education and training in defence and security policy filling the gap in teacher training as early as possible, completing the training of new teacher generations with the topics of security and safety policy is a key issue. Even if it has not been implemented yet, teachers can prepare for national defence education within the framework of in-service teacher training.
The theoretical, practical and methodological preparation of teachers is ensured by the further training program titled ’Methodology of Practical Education and Examining of National Defence Basics as a General, Optional Graduation Subject in Grades 9-12th at Secondary Schools’ that has been developed and accredited to meet the requirements of the new school-leaving examination. The program was founded by the Ministry of Defence, the further training program has been started by the Faculty of Military Sciences and Officer Training at the National University of Public Service which is also the issuer of the certificate. The course consists of 60 lectures from which 30 hours have to be taken up by individual academic preparation. Its purpose is to provide the theoretical basis which is needed for high-level teaching of the subject, to this end, teachers acquire specific sections of the digital curriculum of National Defence Basics via distance learning and they give an account of their knowledge in a written examination. The other 30 hours of the training are taken up by practical training where teachers can become familiar with the theoretical and practical methods of arranging the school-leaving examination, the aspects of professional assessment of students’ performance, moreover they receive evaluation for the implementation of practical knowledge of each of the three subjects.
The founder of the three further training programs – ’Methodology of Patriotic and National Defence Education in Grades 1-4th in Elementary Education, … in Grades 5-8th in Elementary Education, … in Grades 9-13th in Secondary Education’ – is the Human Resources Department of the Ministry of Defence. The training has been launched by the Regional Centre of Educational Research and Service at the University of West Hungary and by the Military Training and Retraining Centre of the Faculty of Military Sciences and Officer Training at the National University of Public Service. The teachers working with a relevant age group prepare for managing teaching and organizing tasks in connection with patriotic and national defence education at a course of 60 lectures. They get familiarized with those noble historical traditions and values armed with which they understand the essence of patriotism, they understand what this term means today for an individual citizen; they become familiar with the special teaching, educational methods that are needed for the effective implementation of patriotic and national defence education; they acquire theoretical knowledge related to security policy, home defence, military science that are necessary for them to carry out the tasks of patriotic and home defence education to a high standard; they get familiarized with our historical traditions and positive heroes that can be used in patriotic and home defence education; they discover community development opportunities lying in imparting National Defence Knowledge and activities; they integrate patriotic values into the educational activities related to the development of social competences of students; they become familiar with the special teaching and educational methods (motivational techniques) that are needed for the productive implementation of patriotic and home defence education; they acquire the techniques of modern learning management and assessment, the reflective way of thinking of the teacher and they are able to put it in practice in effective patriotic and home defense education, as well (H. Varga & Czank, 2012).
Previous research on e–learning in military and civil higher education
Publications on distance learning (basic concepts, trends, plans, implemented steps), military publications have been issued in Hungary for more than one and a half decades (Sipos, 1995). In particular, the pioneering multimedia curriculum of military research and development is remarkable (Kende & Seres, 2005). The multimedia curriculum of information operations at Zrínyi Miklós National Defence University (ZMNE) was new in its genre, as well (Haig, Várhegyi & Kovács, 2005).
Closely associated with the subject of our research, the distance learning course ’National Defence Basics’ is part of the preliminaries of the topic, it is accessible for thousands of students at several faculties of higher education since 2007, initiated and organized by ZMNE (Vörös & Czank, 2010). Several military and civil employees of ZMNE participated in the further teacher training course titled ’Pedagogical Practices of Learning Adapted to Life Situations’ that was completed in a cross-semester schedule in 2007, the next milestone of the cooperation was the publication of the methodological textbook (Gerõ, 2008). Over the years, publications on educational experiences have continuously been issued.
According to the study that summarizes the results of National Defence Basics that is taught at the University of Pannonia, the students had a highly positive opinion of the role of computers and networks in the collection and processing of information, in learning, exercising, self-checking, in group work and scientific research, as well as in the lessons. The students were able to learn independently, diligently and effectively. The system shell of distance-learning was working reliably, it made completely independent and effective learning possible. The high standards of written tests, good exam results, the positive attitude and feedback from the students during the term meant a real professional success and recognition for the curriculum writers and the tutor. The training was unique and successful in the history of ZMNE so far: the IT system, the Oracle iLearning Learning Management System, the e-learning materials, the organization of distance learning, the activities of the tutor and the students were tested simultaneously. On the basis of the feedback of the students and the satisfaction questionnaires filled out by them, the subject is popular not only for its content, but also for the method of teaching.
When the training started, the students received a well-designed guide containing information to every little detail and well-structured curriculum with the help of which they were able to learn individually and effectively, they could adapt to the requirements of the distance learning system well. The course filled a gap for the students in the civil higher education, it could meet real social needs explaining its positive reception and popularity which is also verified by the fact that additional institutions of higher education have announced National Defence Basics since September, 2009. According to the feedback, young people acquired considerable theoretical knowledge while learning the curriculum of National Defence Basics, the positive propaganda expressed by them is the concern of national defence and it has a considerable credibility in the field of the popularization of the Hungarian Army, consequently it is efficient (Vörös, 2009).
National Defence Knowledge in secondary and higher education
The Ministry of Defence started the comprehensive revision of the volunteer reserve system in order to establish its development in 2008. Based on the report on this, the Hungarian Parliament authorized and at the same time imposed tasks for the executive branch in its decision of 124/2008. XII.3.). Section g) of the government regulation 1032/2009. (III.17.) ordered the development and implementation of a program broadening civic/national defence knowledge at primary, secondary and higher education institutions. The task became the joint responsibility of the Minister for Education and Culture and The Minister of Defence. The Ministry of Defence – due to the limited possibilities of communication – was looking for a solution to reach young people, primarily students in secondary and higher education effectively and to impart knowledge related to patriotic education.
Planning and elaborating work which is appropriate for the changed conditions and able to reach the young generation, as well as the transition to a volunteer force began and almost simultaneously to the introduction of professional military force – under the governmental regulation of 338/2004. (XII. 18.) – National Defence Basics became an optional general graduation exam subject (at medium and advanced level, too) in the curriculum of secondary schools. This subject can play a vital role in recruitment and career preparation while bearing in mind the interests of the Hungarian Defence Forces, since after the abolishment of the compulsory military service this is the only institutional opportunity for the patriotic education of young people in that age group that is highly important for the Hungarian Defence Forces. By imparting basic military knowledge, not only an optional graduation subject is available to the students, but also an opportunity to get familiarized with the characteristics, regulations of military life. Knowing all of these, they can make a solid decision to choose military profession or to enter into contractual military service. Military training for young people and direct military recruitment are not the purposes of the teaching of the subject. In the course of learning, secondary school students
-        learn about the position and role of Hungary in NATO and the European Union,
-        understand the security guarantees NATO and the EU can provide for our country – including all citizens,
-        learn about the obligations of citizens regarding national defence; understand what patriotism and love of the country means today at the individual level,
-        become familiar with the main elements and operation of the defence system of Hungary, the role and tasks of the Hungarian Defence Forces,
-        gain realistic experiences in the activities and life of contract, professional, volunteer reserve soldiers,
-        acquire practical knowledge that help them develop teamwork, self-discipline, persistence,
-        will be familiar with first aid tasks that are needed in case of disasters (natural, industrial), accidents,
-        will be motivated to choose military profession, to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills,
-        are provided with information on the opportunities of further education for a military career.
The Ministry of Defence had similar intentions when the subject National Defence Basics was integrated into the higher education system. The course is a stop-gap work for students in civil higher education, its purpose is to get those who are interested familiarized with the basic theoretical knowledge of national defence. On the basis of the contract entered into by the Rectors of Zrínyi Miklós National Defence University and the University of Pannonia, the course has been made optional with the value of three credits at the University of Pannonia since the academic year of 2007-2008. In the period since the introduction, both the number of universities where the subject is taught, and the number of students choosing the course have increased significantly. The subject – through the continuous revision of the curriculum and the modernization of its contents – is suitable for students in civil higher education to acquire basic defence skills within the framework of distance learning.
Learning National Defence Basics through E-learning
At the civil institutions of higher education, teaching of the course National Defence Basics is intended on the one hand to get students specialised in those skills that are related to the security policy environment, national defence of our country and the personal defence obligations of the citizens, on the other hand to get them familiarized with the position and role of the Hungarian Defence Forces in the national defence system, to make them aware of its organizational structure, the main characteristics of its operation. With the theoretical knowledge acquired during the course they should be able to find their way in fundamental issues related to the security, national defence of Hungary.
The curriculum is available via the Internet with the username and password provided by the NUPS, in this way unauthorized access can be prevented (the material does not contain classified contents). Its modular structure provides good arrangement, self-checking of the acquired knowledge, and it makes it possible to carry out the necessary changes quickly. Oracle iLearning Learning Management System (LMS) that is used by the university, in addition to ensuring access to the curriculum, provides the opportunity to follow and record the work of the students, to check the acquired material, to create forums and chat-rooms, to help the teamwork of students through the network, the system makes it possible for the tutors and the students to communicate by letters, to display public interest news on a bulletin board, to set different rights at the level of individuals. The changeover to ILIAS system is currently in progress.
The multimedia educational package, National Defence Basics contained 12 chapters in the beginning, then since 2011 13 chapters discuss skills related to national defence, the operation of the Hungarian Army and general military training.
Table 1: The Curriculum of National Defence Basics
Knowledge of Law Provisions
Security Policy and Federal Knowledge
The Characteristics of Wars of Our Age
Knowledge of Military History
The Functions and Structure of the Hungarian Defence Forces
Peace Support Operations
General Military Knowledge
Survival Skills
Military Logistics
NBC Defence Skills
Principles and Modern Tools of Orientation
Health Knowledge
Military Engineering Knowledge
Source: Own editing
A complex examination system has been developed: in addition to learning the curriculum, the students have to study the recommended literature as well (for example in 2008, 11 electronic publications available on the Internet from the 2006-2007 issues of Új Honvédségi Szemle and Humán Szemle). The students could choose the topic of the written essay, which is part of the examination, from 52 subject matters. At the end of the semester a complex written examination is held, the tests consist of 45-50 different types of tasks as follows:
-        open-ended questions that require short answers;
-        cloze tests, gap filling with our without clues;
-        answering questions based on pictures;
-        true or false tests;
-        identification of concepts, selecting false concepts;
-        recognizing visual information;
-        completion, recognition of figures, outlines.
The National Defence Basics textbook and supplementary materials – including a teacher’s manual – are used both for the purposes of secondary education and can be linked to the curriculum of the course. The (incomplete) versions of these are available on other websites as well as in the password-protected system. The most detailed basic and supplementary curriculum can be found on the website of KatonaSuli. The handbook can also be found here containing supplementary materials, photos, sources, methodology, textbook illustrations linked to each chapter.
During the training, the exchange of information takes place through two channels: in connection with organizational issues the head of Military Training and Retraining Centre at NUPS maintains relations with the contact persons of universities, while the tutor communicates with the students (by e-mail).
Questionnaire Survey in the Spring of 2014
The study was conducted using an online questionnaire tool. 571 students registered for the course in the term of the questioning, 377 people passed the examination successfully. 99 people (54 women and 45 men) filled out the questionnaire, 25.25% of the examinees.
Table 2: Number of Students Registered for National Defence Knowledge per Institutions
Institution of higher education
College of Nyíregyháza
University of Pannonia
University of West Hungary Savaria Campus, Szombathely
Eötvös József College, Baja
Source: Own editing
We put 26 questions in the questionnaire. Three questions concerned the institution, the respondent’s gender, their studies in bachelor’s and master’s programs. 14 questions took interest in the motives, purposes, the possible role of learning the subject National Defence Basics in choosing a career. We put 11 questions in connection with studying in the context of e-learning, downloading the curriculum, taking examinations, hereafter the results of these are described in detail.
Our hypothesis was that the students would prefer to learn the curriculum and also take the examination online if we provided the opportunity for them.
To our question whether there were e-learning courses at the student’s college or university, 44 people answered yes, while 55 people answered no. Of course, we can not draw far-reaching conclusions from the total results, but we have to think about the fact that such a high percentage of the responders do not know whether there are such courses at their institutions.
Among the answers to our question ’If yes, please indicate the title of the course(s)!’ we could read ’I do not know, but I am sure that there is one.’ and ’Unfortunately, I can not indicate it.’ Most e-learning courses are linked to communication and information technology courses, in some cases to learning support courses at the given institution of higher education (such as Introduction to Informatics, Using the Internet for Learning, Bias-free Communication).
We also asked which online courses they had completed and the responses that we received show that online courses are mainly specialized courses in accordance with the different lines of studies: Physiotherapy, Socialization of Roma Children in teacher training courses, Supporting Business Processes for the students studying economic science, etc.
When recording for the course, the students were mainly motivated by the fact that they had wished to obtain information about the Hungarian Defence Forces in this way, while the second most important motive was the credit value of the course. It shows the popularity of the course that during their studies, the students give account to each other of the subject, thus almost half of the students in the semester chose National Defence Basics as one of their subjects, because their group members and acquaintances who had already completed the course recommended it.
The students made use of the course material variously. 37 people printed it, 66 people read it on the Internet, 6 people asked the tutor (by email) to send them additional material and access to materials, while 3 people chose additional forms of learning (they solved tasks, watched videos on YouTube). It can be seen that online tools, methods dominated the learning process.
72.7% of the students think that the main advantage of the e-learning course National Defence Basics is that it makes flexible learning possible, 51% consider its time-saving feature, 49.4% its benefit of learning regardless of the geographical location also important. According to 23.2% of students, e-learning motivate them for interactivity, active learning as well.
Preliminary ideas related to the e-learning course and their fulfilment worked out as expected. The students could learn in a self-paced way, without time constraints, they could choose the method of learning by themselves. According to their expectations, 92.9% of them could adjust learning to their own pace and time, consequently they were able to determine the conditions themselves. As long as having no technical difficulties was not overstressed among expectations, most of the responders were satisfied, since their hopes were realized. This fact pronouncedly establishes, justifies that we should develop online examination in the subject National Defence Basics from the next period.
The research also shows that the majority of the students are satisfied with the online learning method and if they have any questions, they are able to ask them and get the answers online as well.
So far, in the examination period students have been able to take the examination three times per semester, using printed worksheets. As a result of oral interviews, we could draw the conclusion that we should establish the opportunity to take the examination using web interface as soon as possible. It was the reason for asking this question, but we got a surprising result. We expected that everyone would choose the online procedure of taking the examination, 50.5% marked the electronic examination surface as their preferance, at the same time 69.5% chose the paper-based option at their own institution of higher education as well. It is interesting to mention that 5 responders would like to take the examination in the subject orally, in front of a board.
Summing up the responses of students learning National Defence Knowledge, we can say that although some responses were in favour of the opportunities of e-learning and examinations, our expectations in connection with the examination did not prove true. Since we supposed that students would prefer to take online examinations independent of time and space. At the same time, the element of surprise was reduced by the information that we learned about e-learning courses of certain institutions of higher education and the participation of the students at these courses. Namely, part of the students did not answer these questions, while many responders have not taken part in such courses yet.
Thus, all the participants of institutions of higher education that make the teaching of the subject possible and are involved in the survey have to face the task: it should be made possible for the students to participate in as many online courses as possible. This is an important task, for the future as well, since ’life long learning’ will be the reality in the careers of the students currently studying at higher education institutions.
We can make use of national defence education at secondary schools and in higher education as well in three areas: in the development of abilities, in moral education issues, furthermore by providing knowledge. The goal is to turn young people into responsible citizens, to get them into contact with the Hungarian Defence Forces, and also to reinforce social solidarity among citizens of Hungary.
National defence education can strengthen positive emotions felt for our homeland, contribute to the willingness to choose military service. National Defence Knowledge will allow the recognition of domestic and international security elements and dangers, which can be reassuring in the constantly growing globalization. Protecting our homeland, developing skills with the help of which we can fulfil our allied obligations are the results of a voluntary and conscious choice. Acquiring the curriculum contributes to the increase in general social activity of young people. Learning National Defence Knowledge can not only be used in higher education, but it also provides additional opportunities, for example it could be laid down as a condition to young graduates seeking a job in the field of national defence.
According to the trends that can be drawn from survey data, the popularity of the subject is expected to continue growing in the future, thus online learning methods and tools facilitating learning need to be improved continuously.
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