Using Educational Webcasts in Small Multigrade Schools of Isolated Islands

By Giannakos, Michail N.; Vlamos, Panayiotis | International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology, July 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Using Educational Webcasts in Small Multigrade Schools of Isolated Islands


Giannakos, Michail N., Vlamos, Panayiotis, International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology


ABSTRACT

In this study primary schools' educational system in small and isolated islands of Greece is presented. These areas are characterized by inaccessibility and isolation as it happens in most multigrade schools. For facing the difficulties of multigrade schooling, curriculums should be engaged with different learning strategies. In this case study conducted an investigation of the effectiveness of educational webcast as an auxiliary manner under multigrade schooling conditions. The research was carried out in six small and isolated schools in Greece. The field study compared mulitigrade traditional teaching to webcast enhanced multigrade teaching. The educational webcast was deployed to 22 primary school students. The results of the study indicated that educational webcasts can have a valuable contribution to multigrade primary schools students. The implications of the findings are discussed for practice and research.

Keywords: Multigrade Schools, Primary Education, Geographic Isolated Islands, Rural Schools, Educational Webcasts, Within Group Experiment, Learning Effectiveness.

INTRODUCTION

Every country has to deal with its educational problems, depending on the nature of the problem; each country works out for wide or local solutions. In many primary schools of Greece the population does not exceed 50 pupils. These schools have limited teaching staff and are named multigrade schools. Specifically, multigrade schools employ up to five teachers (there is not one teacher for each grade), who nevertheless are expected to cover the needs of a full school. As a result, there are mixed classes (classes with children of different grades), with two, three, or more grades in the same class. In these "small schools", the number of students justifies the employment of less than six teachers (even one or two).

Teachers of multigrade schools face significant challenges, as they have to teach more than one curriculum subject in the same class. Multigrade schools exist in many parts of the world, particularly in isolated and rural regions. Remote areas, such as, Pakistan, Zambia, Caribbean, West Australia and Greece have multigrade schools. The multigrade schooling in rural areas has been widely studied, and it is considered as a weakness of the educational system (Ludlow, 1998; Benveniste and McEwan, 2000). However, sometimes it is believed to have some advantages over single grade classes (Cook, 2000; Boss, 2000). The isolation and inaccessibility of many regions, due to Greece's many mountainous ranges and islands, have resulted in many small schools with many specificities (Tressou-Milona, 1996). The aim of this paper is to examine the usage of educational webcasts in an auxiliary manner in small schools in isolated islands of Greece.

Sometimes, students finish their work quicker than a teacher expects, or the teacher needs more time to prepare or work with another class. In those cases, some or all of the students are left with free time. If a teacher does not come up with an activity for the students, teaching and behavior problems might ensue. For the case of multigrade schools this problem is greater. In order to cope up with the problem of students' "free time" in multigrade classes, a learning webcast was created, and then examined for the effectiveness of the pupils in contrast with their ordinary effectiveness. Moreover, an interview with their respective teachers in order to identify the differentiation of their reaction from typical traditional teaching is conducted. Thus, the possibilities of giving a technological solution in one of the most important problems in multigrade schooling are examined.

This research aims to shed light in learning strategies of multigrade schools of small islands. Findings were expected to promote the evolution of technology in small schools and specifically the creation of learning webcasts on the courses of primary school. This paper is organized as follows. …

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