A MODEL OF DISTANCE EDUCATION FOR THE FIREMEN TRAINING IN PORTUGAL
This work has the objective to identify a distance education model for the training of the Portuguese firemen that allows minimizing the conditions that limit the access and frequency of the training actions, in particular of the voluntary firemen. The majority of the firemen in Portugal continue to be voluntary, accumulating the exercise of a professional activity with the voluntary rendering of services in the fire departments. The training demanded to the firemen for the performance of its mission, including to the firemen who are voluntary, for its extensive and diversified program, is hardly conciliated with the professional activity and the personal and familiar life.
The flexibility that distinguishes the distance education since its origin makes possible a teaching/learning solution, based on the exploration of the potentialities of online education, compatible with the constraint of the voluntary firemen.
B-learning allows minimizing the live component of the training programs, reducing the displacement and the time of permanence in the training centers, replacing live lessons for online activities. The live lessons are reserved for specific moments of the program, in function of the nature of the program contents and the learning tasks, giving reply to the specificity of the firemen training, which is characterized by a strong practical component.
To support the applicability of a mixing education model to the training of the firemen an investigation work was carried through, using the questionnaire as instrument of collecting data, to a sample of 270 firemen. The study intended to characterize the access and use of the computer and the Internet, the abilities at the digital literacy level, the perceptions on the training and distance education and the interest of the firemen in the distance education.
Although the sample evidenced heterogeneity, especially at the age level, the literary qualifications and the digital literacy, we can conclude that the majority of the firemen has easiness of access to the computer and uses the Internet, searching, communicating and interacting socially in the Internet. The firemen would like to learn and have access to more training. The firemen had identified the modality of b-learning as the solution that will be able to attenuate the diagnosed difficulties that condition the access to training.
The achieved results allow concluding that the Portuguese firemen congregate the necessary conditions to consist as potential addressees of distance training in a hybrid education model that combines online training with the live training.
KEYWORDS: distance education, self-learning, collaborative learning, b-learning.