Using ICT for special subject distance learning in multigrade schools Minerva
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Τετάρτη, 22 Αύγουστος 2018
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The MustLearnIT ModelarrowThe Learning Method

CTI
HOU
Warwick
Chydenius
Nttc
PI Cyprus
 

The Learning Method

With the intention of facilitating multigrade primary schools and small rural primary schools facing difficulties in terms of providing a wide breadth of teacher expertise in order to meet their curriculum requirements this project aims:

  • to provide ICT supported distance learning schemes for enhancing learning in isolated primary schools by enabling teachers and pupils to use appropriate educational resources beyond those that are presented to them at a local level. We envisage a comprehensive scheme, supported by ICT in the classroom, involving in the process local schoolteachers and remote specialized teachers teaching their regular classes, as well as specially developed educational material (using educational software, Internet facilities, etc.), in synchronous and asynchronous modes. Transferability and sustainability issues will be taken into account, mainly by a) sustaining minimum technical requirements and costs and b) capitalising on the existing infrastructures.

The model we propose, in terms of its design and implementation, includes the following activities (Figure 2):

  1. Pupils will be “assimilated” by video conferencing in the classroom of a “central” school and will follow the special subject lesson, as this is normally taught by the special “expert” teacher in this school (synchronous mode of distance learning).
  2. Pupils will work on their own using appropriate educational material and software on the school’s computers, while at the same time they will be supported by a remote “study support” teacher (synchronous and asynchronous mode of distance learning)
  3. 2-3 times within the school year they will be visited by a specialized “expert” teacher and will enjoy a regular class, where they can directly interact by discussing in person with the teacher.
  4. In some cases (e.g. when the special subject lesson is Foreign Language Learning, and/or the language coincides among the schools in more than one country), ODL sessions between the multigrade schools in the different countries can also be held within the school year.

During 1, 2 and 4 the local primary school teacher is present in the classroom and she/he will be able to assist the pupils in using the computer and the relevant educational software.

Thus the model combines in a comprehensive way the presence of the teacher in the classroom and in the remote “central” school, at the same time involving the active participation of the pupils in using the computer and the appropriate educational software as learning tools.

A suitable distance learning platform supporting the functionality of a “virtual classroom” via video conferencing is the technical method to be used as this best simulates the “real” classroom. It supports interactivity among teachers and pupils. This makes it especially appropriate for young children when they communicate “class to class”. However, it can be a costly and high-maintenance option. For this reason, the project also includes point ii above, exploiting ICT in the pupils’ own classroom and the on-line presence of a remote “study support” teacher.

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Figure 2: MuSTLearnIT Model Unit

The remote “study support” teacher will assist and guide the pupils while they do their homework activities in school.

Special software tools (e.g. chat, e-mail, whiteboard, application sharing) included in the distance learning platform supporting the project will be used for this collaboration. This teacher must be available during school hours and in particular, during hours allotted for special subject learning in multigrade schools. She/he will also visit the schools at regular intervals in order to better monitor the pupils’ progress for the specific subject lesson she/he supports them in. In the case of very young pupils it is best that the “central” school teacher and the “study support” teacher are the same person.

Regarding the approach in implementing the model in the multigrade schools of the partner countries it is expected that there will be variations on account of parameters such as: 

  • different needs for different subject lessons, this necessarily ties in with different educational material to be used (software and activities) 
  • different educational curricula 
  • the selection of particular central schools to participate in the project, in terms of their subject lesson expertise, in order to optimally cover the need of the multigrade schools in the specific country
  • differences in the existing technical facilities in the schools

that may lead to the application of a subset of the activities proposed in the model (1-4 above).

However, the strong point of the model is that it is flexible enough to accommodate such differences in implementation.

In fact, the variance in implementation presents an interest of its own, and we anticipate insightful feedback at the end of the project, in using such a model at a European level.

 



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