APPLICATION OF NETWORKING IN LITHUANIAN COMPREHENSIVE SCHOOLS IN ORDER TO OVERCOME DISTANCE LEARNING CHALLENGES
The COVID19 pandemic has caused massive disruption in education practices worldwide. Since Lithuania has declared the state-level emergency in February 2020, imposed by quarantine, the educational process was organized in a distance mode. For many pupils, teachers, and school communities this was their first experience with distance learning. This has initiated discussions among researchers, education representatives and other parties interested in new ways of organizing the educational process.
The study aim is to reveal how the application of networking in Lithuanian comprehensive schools contributed to the elimination of distance learning challenges that arose during the pandemic.
The problem of the research. The COVID-19 pandemic is causing unprecedented challenges for educational institutions, and Lithuanian comprehensive education schools are unable to exist in a closed system. To accommodate this, a network bringing together the Ministry of Education, schools, parents, school students has been launched. The problem study questions are raised: how do school communities / learners / parents deals with challenges of the distance learning process? What is the role of the application of networking in comprehensive schools?
Research methodology. 13 video conferences-reflections (April 2020 – March 2021) held by the Ministry of Education, Science, and Sport of the Republic of Lithuania and the National Agency for Education intended for the development of distance education performed during the quarantine were analyzed. The content of these events was focused on the management of learning loads, assurance of feedback, learning support to school students, problems of experiential education, and opportunities of distance education. The method of content analysis was used to analyze the data. The content of the videoconference was transcribed in separate protocols. The analysis has been conducted by consistently analyzing the content of a text, dividing the content under investigation into analytical units. The latter are coded, aiming at anonymity of the research participants.
The results of the study revealed that school communities, learners and their parents faced certain challenges during the crisis in implementing / participating in the distance learning process. All problems encountered were reduced or eliminated through the networking of school leaders, administration/ teachers/ parents and students. In order to ensure the effectiveness of the feedback, surveys of parents / students and reflections of teachers were conducted. An important aspect of knowledge acquisition / dissemination, when teachers analysed and exchanged information on the selection of curriculum, the possibilities of ICT application, delved into the processes of integration and differentiation, thus created successful work strategies by learning from each other. When working in the network, it is important to achieve a collective goal, when the problems that have arisen are overcome with the help of municipalities, businesses and schools, and there is a common agreement on the organization and implementation of distance learning. Reconciliation of interests prevailed, when a clear order was established, close relations were maintained. An integral element of networking is, therefore, close collaboration between institutions, administration, pedagogues, parents and students.