Sofia University is the largest state educational and scientific center in Bulgaria, ranked among the top 50 universities in the EECA, with more than 100 Bachelor’s, over 400 Master’s degree courses and 1,800+ educational and administrative staff employed full time.
Sofia University works with 25,000+ Bulgarian and international students. In 2013 the university piloted its first distance education programmes using their asynchronous platform with pre-made materials. Due to a lack of real-time interaction between the lecturers and students the university was not able to fully launch online courses and kept on conducting face-to-face sessions as part of the distance programmes. As a result, a lot of students living outside Sofia or abroad were not able to visit the traditional sessions and complete the distance courses. After the first year, the university started looking for a synchronous e-learning solution to offer fully online programmes by ensuring real-time online interaction replacing traditional sessions.
In 2014 Sofia University started using the VEDAMO Virtual Classroom in addition to their asynchronous platform. VEDAMO allows the university lecturers conduct real-time interactive sessions.
By using the VEDAMO Virtual Classroom in addition to their asynchronous platform, Sofia University offers complete online distance-education programmes, blending synchronous with asynchronous teaching. The lecturers upload pre-made learning materials for self-preparation or additional learning resources in their online courses using their asynchronous platform. In the VEDAMO virtual classroom they conduct real-time online sessions with groups of students across the country and abroad. Students, lecturers and university administrators have access to the archive recordings of all online sessions. This allows for better monitoring of the students’ progress.
By introducing distance learning options Sofia University managed to reduce its overhead and logistics costs, costs for learning materials and equipment and to extend the scope of its work. The flexible schedules and the opportunity to learn from anywhere increased the students’ participation and engagement rate.