The results presented here are based on two kinds of assessment after each teaching experiment: First, the students answered to questions how they felt about the learning experience, then their factual knowledge was tested.
The assessments showed that in general the teacher-led lessons gave better cognitive results than the "bytes only" and "books and bytes" groups. However, we can notice a difference between the statistics of international lessons and local lessons: The cognitive results were better in local teacher-led lessons than in international teacher-led lessons. This could be explained by the language barrier which was more challenging for the international groups in teacher-led lessons. During the "bytes only" and the "books and bytes" learning experiences the students could more easily overcome this barrier by finding help from the internet and by cooperating. If the teacher-led lessons provide better cognitive results, the two other working methods give a better opportunity to develop social skills.
Books have always been a fundamental part of education in the European school system. In the recent 10-20 years, bytes in the form of computers and mobile phones have become a larger part of the school in the various countries.
In the project "Living and learning between books & bytes" schools from six different countries, the Rottmayr-Gymnasium in Laufen (Germany), IES Sierra Nevada, located in Fiñana (Spain), the Danish Gladsaxe Gymnasium in Søborg, the French Lycée du Bois d'Amour in Poitiers, Istituto Statale di Istruzione Secondaria Superiore "Giuseppe Verdi" in Valdobbiadene (Italy) and Gymnasium Beekvliet in Sint Michielsgestel (The Netherlands) work together, each with their own traditions, systems and way of teaching. By combining these traditions and the use of books and bytes, we try to create the best cross-European teaching method. We do this by experimenting in cross-national groups during the meetings at the various partner schools.
Another part of the project which is not described in this report, but is available on the project website, is living with social media. Students show through theatre what living between books and bytes means to them.
In the following chapters there will be descriptions of our experiments and the main results. Afterwards there will be a short chapter on sources of error. In the end we will present some guidelines describing different teaching situations.
The teacher-led lessons showed a lot of different structures: some teachers used rather frontal methods like conferences, others used group work and group research exercises. Some teachers took into consideration the language skills of the students, while others did not. Some topics, like “art nouveau” and ‘“power of the media: fake news”, invited the students to reflect and to express points of view. Other topics like physics (“energy in everyday life”) asked students to think, but not to discuss or to give their point of view. But these features cannot be detected in the results of the cognitive tests.
Most of the tests were made of two parts: ⅔ of multiple choice questions and ⅓ of open questions. In general we realized that the cognitive results of the teacher led groups are most often better than those of the other working method groups. Over all, the outcome of the multiple choice questions shows the same tendency: the results of the teacher-led lessons are better than the others. Especially fact based topics ( “Energy”, “Norms and standards”, “Forest”) show very good results in the multiple choice part.
The (fact based) lessons without students interaction (lecture) and focused on the test show very good results, and the gap between the teacher-led and the two other methods is important. But, concerning the open questions, the differences between the methods are generally not very significant.
There were a priori no structures. Students were given a topic to be treated. As teachers we made sure to provide material (books, copies of relevant chapters, websites) according to the subject. Some guiding questions to answer were supposed to make it easier for the students to treat the subject but we realized that this wasn’t always the case, as we noticed during the first mobility.
So for the Books & Bytes lessons it is of the utmost importance to ensure that the level of difficulty is the right one for the students, neither too easy nor too difficult. This because you can’t intervene too much as a teacher for it’s not a teacher-led lesson. Moreover a detailed introduction of the topic appeared to be essential for the students regarding the comprehension of the subject.
During the first mobility we realized that for this kind of lessons we had to introduce the topic and to supervise the students, not to see if they were really working but to help them at certain moments when they came across a problem. Furthermore we noticed at the first mobility that we had to limit the number of students in a group and to make sure that there were several nationalities in one team. So for the next mobilities we, as teachers, put the groups together ourselves.
In general the results of the books & bytes lessons came second, after the teacher-led lessons but before the bytes-only lessons. We found out that as for the open questions the results between the three lesson methods did not differ that much while we noticed a significant difference in the multiple choice results. Here the participants who attended the teacher-led sessions did better than the other two groups.
We can conclude that the bytes-only group gets the lowest results except in one case. It can be noted that the difference between the bytes-only and books-and-bytes groups is not
very significant in comparison with the teacher-led lessons. And in the case where the bytes-only groups achieved the best results, the difference with the other groups is not remarkable.
If we compare the different topics, we can note that the bytes-only groups occupy nearly all the time the third position in the results. Nevertheless, most of the results are quite close to the books-and-bytes groups. We also note that the nature of the topic is significant, since the more discussion based the topic such as “Globalization and Power of the media”, the bigger difference there is with the rest of groups, and the more fact based topics such as “mushrooms, climate, energy in everyday life, etc” show lower differences with the other groups.
Regarding the type of questions, the multiple-choice questions obtained the lowest results in the bytes-only groups in most cases. But in the open answers, we cannot see a big difference in the results, with the bytes-only groups occupying the first and second positions in less than the half of the topics and the lowest results being a majority, depending on the topic. Therefore, the nature of the topic is relevant in showing similarity or difference between the groups.
We also notice that the multiple-choice questions show big differences between the results of the different groups, whereas the open answers show similarity in the results. In one case, the bytes-only group achieved the best results in the multiple-choice questions, but the open answers got the same results as the rest.
As a conclusion, we observe that the worst results were obtained by the bytes-only groups in the majority of cases, with the variable of the nature of the topic being relevant.
Between the mobilities the partner schools made experiments according to the above described methods, but with the small change of language. Concerning the language we have seen in the self reflection questionnaire that in the teacher led lessons, the language (english) was a problem for 28% of the students, whereas in the other two setups it was only a problem for 18% of the students. We made the same questionnaire for the local lessons, and there were no problems in with the language in the teacher led lessons. This is not surprising, but it’s still important to note.
We made the same statistics on the cognitive results as in the internal lessons, and found that the factual cognitive knowledge was significantly higher. The bytes were 42,25%, the blended were 53,62% and the teacher led were 68,19%. In the the international lessons bytes were 47,67%, blended were 50,01% and teacher led were 56,59%. This could be a indication of the language barrier and that could explain why the difference between the different types of lessons where under 10 percent points.
In creating the data for analysing the outcome of the different types of learning- and teaching methods we encounter a number of possible sources of error that have to be factored in before a meaningful analysis can take place.
If we only regard the understanding of the content, the data  indicates the importance of the role of the teacher. If asked, the students underline the importance of having the teacher helping them and keeping them focused on the subject. He or she also offers the opportunity to learn some interesting things on the subject that is taught. As for the blended lessons, results showed that the instructions given to the students should be very precise, not only about the learning objectives but also about the work-process (a step by step guidance how to reach these objectives). The materials (books, websites, videos etc. ) should be organised in a way that they facilitate the attainment of the aims.
From the data we can also derive that teacher-led lessons obstruct developing social skills such as working in a team and learning from each other. Skills you can use in other parts of your life, where as if you only focus on hard core cognitive knowledge these competences are neglected.
The data shows  that there is already a potential among the students as for these social skills. In fact in spite of the presence of the teacher, the students still rely on their classmates for help. So for teachers it seems to be very important to be aware of the fact that a mixture of a teacher-led lesson and a blended lesson would contribute to the developing of both cognitive knowledge and social competences.
Our research indicates an importance of the group mates in the learning process.
The self-reflection questionnaires show that peers are an important source of support. In the blended groups they are the most important source of help, even before the internet. As for the bytes-only, the students resort slightly more to the internet than to their mates. And even if in the teacher-led lessons the teacher is the first source of help, the group mates still play an almost as important role as in the two other learning situations.
Not only do the students appreciate the help of their peers, but their testimonies distinctly show it is a real pleasure for them to cooperate, and they particularly enjoy mixing with other nationalities. It clearly shows in the three learning situations.
Working in groups is not a problem for pupils. It is rarely evoked as a difficulty. We might assume they would have problems concentrating in teamwork, but on the contrary it appears that students express that they are better focused on the tasks and more engaged. This analysis goes hand in hand with the fact that the students express being all involved in their work when they have no teacher supervising them. In teacher-led activities they tend to wait for their mates to carry out the tasks.
Generally speaking, there is no indication that a natural leader always emerges in the teamwork activities. As far as “Bytes only” and “Blended” groups are concerned, everyone has a say in defining the priorities of the group.
To summarize, group mates are not just a source of information and support, but they also contribute to making work a pleasure and to developing social skills.
Focusing on time management, it can be noticed that it was not a problem for most of the students working together in the blended group or in the bytes-only group. A small percentage found that the time given to accomplish the assignment was not enough. This might be due to the language barrier or the task being too difficult.
When asked about the situations when they were performing more effectively, the majority of the students pointed out that working together, in pairs or in groups, gave them the feeling they were reaching their goals. The reason for this can possible be found in the fact that they felt part of a group, and gave their contribution to the teamwork outcome. Nevertheless some students preferred working or studying alone, especially in the bytes-only group.
In conclusion, the general perception of time management was quite positive.
The groups the students were divided into, were mixed among the different participating countries.
When dealing with the receptive skills of listening and reading, we found out that the teacher-led groups encountered the biggest language barriers: first of all because they had to comprehend the general meaning of the lessons, and secondly owing to the specific terminology used by the teacher.
As far as they had to produce a written or oral outcome, in the Books and Bytes or Bytes-only groups, the results show that, in spite of the content remaining difficult, the linguistic problems were partially overcome.
At the time of working together, the language issues were softened by the use of communication strategies such as paraphrasing, circumlocutions, calques or native-language words as well as social skills.
Moreover they could check for and translate from the internet when faced with linguistic doubts.
From the data we can conclude that there is a significant difference in the development of problem solving skills, innovative competences and social skills concerning the difficulty of the specific task. When the content of the lesson is more difficult, the students will use more diverse strategies and methods to learn as a way of coping with the challenge at hand. At the same time, if the content is more easily obtained, the students will concentrate less on cooperation and problem solving. Therefore the teacher needs to account for this into the framework of the lesson depending on the desired learning outcome for the students. In this case it is important to remember that the difficulty of the subject will also make some students less eager to work, therefore it is important to have a strategy for handling those who choose to opt out as their coping method instead of developing strategies for solving their challenge.
It is relevant to note that the data also indicates that when comparing the test results of the bytes-only (having no guidance) and Books and Bytes (guided use of web-based knowledge) they do not show an overall significant pattern of difference in the results. This indicates that the students have some acceptable competencies in searching knowledge using ICT and critical thinking. However as the data consistently show the Bytes only students having the worst results, and as ICT is an unavoidable part of searching knowledge, further focus on competencies in searching knowledge using ICT and critical thinking is necessary to enable the students to become more independent in their work-process.
We have observed that when the lesson is organized in a quite traditional way, like a kind of “conference”, sometimes the students seem to learn more of the content. On the other hand we noticed that the more interactive a lesson is organised, the more the students improve/use their social skills. The content is still important but the other skills play a bigger role.
The distribution of the results of a teacher led lesson with interaction concerning difficult aspects of the lesson (for example “cultural differences” in France) looks a lot like the distribution of the results of the bytes only and the books and bytes lesson on the same topic.
As we said above, the teacher should help the students to develop social skills. An interactive teacher led lesson favours some of the same skills as in the other groups.
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