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Using webcasts in education: Evaluation of its effectiveness


  • Michail N. Giannakos is a PhD candidate in the Department of Informatics at Ionian University, Corfu, Greece. His main research interests are in the area of Educational Technology, User/Learner Behavior and Technology Education. Panayiotis Vlamos is an assistant professor in the Department of Informatics at Ionian University, Corfu, Greece. His main research interests are Mathematical Software toward Education and Mathematical Modeling.

Mr Michail N. Giannakos, Department of Informatics, Ionian University, Platia Tsirigoti 7, Corfu, Gr-49100, Greece. Tel.: +30 2661087710; Fax: +30 2661048491; email:



Educational webcasts are nowadays widely used by many organizations and institutions all over the world. However, the educational effectiveness of webcasts when used as an autonomous method is yet to be explored. In this paper, the clarification of certain issues concerning their educational effectiveness is attempted. Following specific instructions, an educational webcast was developed, and then a between group evaluation experiment was conducted. The experiment compared traditional learning and an educational webcast. A total of 66 gymnasium (middle school) students were placed in two groups based on a pretest method. The results of the evaluation showed that educational webcasts can be very effective on certain conditions. On the one hand, the educational effectiveness of the webcast was particularly high when applied to tasks that required simple comprehension. On the other hand, the webcast had poor performance in the consolidation of complex tasks.

Practitioner Notes

What is already known about this topic

  • • Advocates of webcasting in education indicate that these technologies can improve student performance; they mention that webcasting lectures in their entirety are useful for revision, reviewing purposes and assist students to fill in learning gaps.
  • • Webcasts provide students the opportunity to actively engage with the material by allowing learners to directly and repeatedly access a specific section of presentations and/or control the speed to play the media file.
  • • Prior studies (eg, McKinney, Dyck & Luber, 2009; Traphagan, Kucsera & Kishi, 2010) also found that students who reported using lecture webcasts as a replacement for the in-class lecture exhibited lower performance.

What this paper adds

  • • We focus on the effectiveness of webcast as an autonomous learning tool and find that in some cases, webcast's performance can reach traditional learning performance.
  • • This research found that in simple comprehension tasks, webcasts seem to have much better performance compared with traditional learning.
  • • Findings indicate that in tasks where a greater degree of comprehension is required, webcast and traditional learning seem to have the same performance.
  • • This research found that in complex tasks that required additional comprehension and a great degree of consolidation, webcasts had very low performance and few of the students coped with the complex task.

Implications for practice and/or policy

  • • Asynchronous-autonomous teaching with webcasts may demonstrate good performance.
  • • Webcast is more efficient when it comes to light-epidermal tasks (eg, multiple choice questions).
  • • For knowledge that has to be comprehended and consolidated, in order to be used in combination with other knowledge for solving complex tasks, the webcast is not recommended because its performance in this area is very poor.