Learning patterns and risks in distance learning during the COVID-19 lockdown – the pupils’ perspective in drama pedagogy-based focus groups

  • Ádám Cziboly Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Bergen, Norway https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2473-9021
  • Ádám Bethlenfalvy Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church in Hungary, Budapest, Hungary https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4251-8161
  • Szilvia Németh T-Tudok Centre for Knowledge Management and Educational Research Inc., Budapest, Hungary
  • Richárd Rajnai T-Tudok Centre for Knowledge Management and Educational Research Inc., Budapest, Hungary
Keywords: digital education, COVID-19, cyberbullying, drama pedagogy, drama in education, Global Kids Online


In this study, primary school pupils have been surveyed using the methodology of drama pedagogy, focusing on two research questions: what the risks of online activities are and how children cope with these, and what the experiences of children with distance learning were. This study investigated both areas jointly from the pupils’ perspective. Three anonymous online focus groups were conducted with 16 Hungarian pupils (4 boys and 12 girls; age range: 11–15 years) in July 2020, who joined to the research on a voluntary basis and have been recruited from three rural counties with different socioeconomic backgrounds. Respondents unequivocally recounted that during the lockdown, they had spent a significant part of their time in front of a screen, mostly without adult supervision. Whilst most only experienced different forms of teasing, some cyberbullying instances bordered on criminal cases and required the involvement of parents. High exposure to such risks was experienced during the months when online learning mainly consisted of receiving assignments to work on, and most teachers were almost unavailable. Future research could compare the experiences of pupils and teachers, creating an online safe space for them where they could respond to each other’s perceptions, interpretations and opinions anonymously.


Download data is not yet available.


Aboujaoude, E., et al., (2015) ‘Cyberbullying: review of an old problem gone viral’, Journal of Adolescent Health, vol. 57, no. 1, pp. 10–18. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2015.04.011

Barlett, C. P., et al., (2021) Comparing cyberbullying prevalence and process before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Journal of Social Psychology, vol. 161, no. 4, pp. 408–418. doi: 10.1080/00224545.2021.1918619

Betthäuser, B., Bach-Mortensen, A. & Engzell, P. (2022) ‘A systematic review and meta-analysis of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on learning’, LIEPP Working Paper, vol. 134, p. ffhal-03681201

Bethlenfalvy, A. (2020) Living Through Extremes in Process Drama, KRE & L’Harmattan, Budapest. doi: 10.56037/978-2-343-20662-2

Bogdandy, B., Tamas, J. & Toth, Z. (2020) ‘Digital transformation in education during COVID-19: A case study’, In 2020 11th IEEE International Conference on Cognitive Infocommunications (CoginfoCom), Mariehamn, Finland, pp. 000173–000178, IEEE. doi: 10.1109/CogInfoCom50765.2020.9237840

Buckingham, D. (2020) ‘Epilogue: rethinking digital literacy: media education in the age of digital capitalism’, Digital Education Review, vol. 37, pp. 230–239. doi: 10.1344/der.2020.37.230-239

Campbell, M. & Bauman, S. (2018) ‘Cyberbullying: definition, consequences, prevalence’, In Reducing cyberbullying in schools, Academic Press, Cambridge, pp. 3–16.

Cohen, L., Manion, L. & Morrison, K. (2018) Research Methods in Education, 8th edn., Routledge, London.

Crawford, J., et al., (2020) ‘COVID-19: 20 countries’ higher education intra-period digital pedagogy responses’, Journal of Applied Learning & Teaching, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 1–20. doi: 10.37074/jalt.2020.3.1.7

Cziboly, Á. & Bethlenfalvy, Á. (2013) Színházi nevelési programok kézikönyve, L’Harmattan [online] Available at: https://www.szinhazineveles.hu/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/szinhazi_nevelesi_kezikonyv.pdf

Cziboly, A. & Bethlenfalvy, A. (2020) ‘Response to COVID-19 Zooming in on online process drama’, Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, vol. 25, no. 4, pp. 645–651. doi: 10.1080/13569783.2020.1816818

Cziboly, Á. (ed.) & DICE Consortium. (2010) The DICE Has Been Cast. A DICE Resource – Research Findings and Recommendations on Educational Theatre and Drama. DICE Consortium [online] Available at: https://www.dramanetwork.eu/file/Policy%20Paper%20long.pdf

Cziboly, Á., et al., (2023) ‘A drama-based examination of Hungarian kindergarteners’ activities, knowledge and attitudes relating to digital communication’. [Manuscript submitted for publication].

Daniel, S. J. (2020) ‘Education and the COVID-19 pandemic’, Prospects, vol. 49, no. 1, pp. 91–96.

Davis, D. (2014) Imagining the real. Towards a new theory of drama in education, IOE Press/Trentham Books, Stoke on Trent. doi: 10.1007/s11125-020-09464-3

Davis, S. & Phillips, L. G. (2020) ‘Teaching during COVID 19 times – the experiences of drama and performing arts teachers and the human dimensions of learning’, NJ, vol. 44, no. 2, pp. 66–87. doi: 10.1080/14452294.2021.1943838

Dredge, R., Gleeson, J. & De la Piedad Garcia, X. (2014) ‘Presentation on Facebook and the risk of cyberbullying victimisation’, Computers in Human Behaviour, vol. 40, pp. 16–22. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2014.07.035

Eriksson, S. A., Heggstad, K. M., Heggstad, K. & Cziboly, A. (2014) ‘Rolling the DICE’. Introduction to the international research project Drama Improves Lisbon Key Competences in Education’, Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, vol. 19, no. 4, pp. 403–408. doi: 10.1080/13569783.2014.954814

EU Kids Online. (2014) The Meaning of Online Problematic Situations for Children: Results of Qualitative Cross-Cultural Investigation in Nine European Countries, EU Kids Online, London School of Economics and Political Science [online] Available at: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/56972/1/EU_Kids_Online_Report_Online_Problematic_Situations_for_Children_June2014.pdf

Gjærum, R. G., Cziboly, A. & Eriksson, S. A. (2022) ‘ILSA in arts education: The effect of drama on competences’, in International Handbook of Comparative Large-Scale Studies in Education, eds T. Nilsen, A. Stancel-Piątak & J.E. Gustafsson, Springer International Handbooks of Education. Springer, Cham, pp. 547–577.

Global Kids Online (2016) Global Kids Online Research Toolkit [online] Available at: http://globalkidsonline.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Procedure-for-coding-and-analysis-FINAL-1.pdf

Grek, S. & Landri, P. (2021) ‘Education in Europe and the COVID-19 pandemic’, European Educational Research Journal, vol. 20, no. 4, pp. 393–402. doi: 10.1177/14749041211024781

Hallin, A. E., et al., (2022) ‘No learning loss in Sweden during the pandemic evidence from primary school reading assessments’, International Journal of Educational Research, vol. 114, p. 102011. doi: 10.1016/j.ijer.2022.102011

Händel, M., et al., (2020) ‘Digital readiness and its effects on higher education students’ socio-emotional perceptions in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic’, Journal of Research on Technology in Education, vol. 54, no. 2, pp. 267–280. doi: 10.1080/15391523.2020.1846147

Heathcote, D. & Bolton, G. (1995) Drama for Learning: Dorothy Heathcote’s Mantle of the Expert Approach to Education, Heinemann, London.

Huser, C., Dockett, S. & Perry, B. (2022) ‘Young children’s assent and dissent in research: agency, privacy and relationships within ethical research spaces’, European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, vol. 30, no. 1, pp. 48–62.

Ito, M., et al., (2008) Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project, MacArthur Foundation, The MIT Press, Cambridge/London.

Kagan, D., Alpert, G. F. & Fire, M. (2020) ‘Zooming into video conferencing privacy and security threats’, arXiv:2007.01059. doi: 10.48550/arXiv.2007.01059

Kang, B. (2021) ‘How the COVID-19 pandemic is reshaping the education service’, The Future of Service Post-COVID-19 Pandemic, vol. 1, pp. 15–36. doi: 10.1007/978-981-33-4126-5_2

Kipling, A. & Hickey-Moody, A. C. (2015) ‘Dorothy Heathcote: Practice as a Pedagogy of Resistance’, in Arts, Pedagogy and Cultural Resistance: New Materialisms, eds A. Hickey-Moody & T. Page, Rowman and Littlefield, London/New York, pp. 59–78.

Iivari, N., Sharma, S. & Ventä-Olkkonen, L. (2020) ‘Digital transformation of everyday life - How COVID-19 pandemic transformed the basic education of the young generation and why information management research should care?’, International Journal of Information Management, vol. 55, no. 102183. doi: 10.1016/j.ijinfomgt.2020.102183

Livingstone, S. (2014) ‘Developing social media literacy: how children learn to interpret risky opportunities on social network sites’, Communications: The European Journal of Communication Research, vol. 39, no. 3. pp. 283–303. doi: 10.1515/commun-2014-0113

Livingstone, S. & Helsper, E. (2008) ‘Parental mediation and children’s Internet use’, Journal of Broad-casting & Electronic Media, vol. 52, no. 4, pp. 581–599. doi: 10.1080/08838150802437396

Livingstone, S., Mascheroni, G. & Staksrud, E. (2018) ‘European research on children’s internet use: assessing the past and anticipating the future’, New Media and Society, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 1103–1122. doi: 10.1177/1461444816685930N

Lorenza, L. M. (2020) ‘Collaborative performance during lockdown: combining devised drama with film concepts to present cyberdrama during the COVID lockdown in Australia’, NJ, vol. 44, no. 2, pp. 88–105. doi: 10.1080/14452294.2021.1939506

Mustapha, I., et al., (2021) ‘Effectiveness of digital technology in education during COVID-19 Pandemic. A bibliometric analysis’, International Journal of Interactive Mobile Technologies, vol. 15, no. 8, pp. 136–154. doi: 10.3991/ijim.v15i08.20415

N. Kollár, K. (2021) ‘Az online oktatás tapasztalatai és gyakorlata a pedagógusok nézőpontjából’, Iskolakultúra, vol. 31, no. 2, pp. 23–54. doi: 10.14232/isk-kult.2021.02.23

Neelands, J. (1984) Making sense of drama: A guide to classroom practice, Heinemann, London.

Németh, Sz. & Rajnai, R. (2021) ‘Hátrányos helyzetű tizenévesek médiahasználata a koronavírus-járvány első hulláma alatt és azt megelőzően A koronavírus-járvány első hullámát követő empirikus kutatás tapasztalatai’, Régió, vol. 29, no. 4, pp. 75–90. doi: 10.17355/rkkpt.v29i4.75

Németh, Sz., et al., (2021) ‘A karanténoktatás tapasztalatai szegregátumban és azon kívül: 18 tanulói és szülői fókuszcsoportos beszélgetés alapján’, Iskolakultúra, vol. 31, no. 6, pp. 17–34. doi: 10.14232/ISKKULT.2021.06.17

Notar, C. E., Padgett, S. & Roden, J. (2013) ‘Cyberbullying: A review of the literature’, Universal Journal of Educational Research, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 1–9. doi: 10.13189/ujer.2013.010101

O’Neill, C. (1995) Drama Worlds: A Framework for Process Drama, Heinemann, London.

O’Sullivan, C. (2018) ‘Role-play and research’, in Research Methods in Education, 8th edn, eds L. Cohen, L. Manion & K. Morrison, Routledge, London, pp. 606–627.

Osváth, A. & Papp, Z. A. (2020) ‘Digitális fordulat az oktatásban? A digitális távoktatás tapasztalatai, lehetséges következményei’, Szellem és Tudomány, vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 179–205 [online] Available at: https://atti.uni-miskolc.hu/docs/SzellemesTudomany2020_2.pdf

Ozamiz-Etxebarria, N., et al., (2021) ‘Prevalence of anxiety, depression, and stress among teachers during the COVID-19 pandemic: a rapid systematic review with meta-analysis’, Brain Sciences, vol. 11, no. 9, p. 1172. doi: 10.3390/brainsci11091172

Shin, S. Y. & Choi, Y. J. (2021) ‘Comparison of cyberbullying before and after the COVID-19 pandemic in Korea’, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 18, no. 19, p. 10085. doi: 10.3390/ijerph181910085

Sonnenschein, S., et al., (2022) ‘“This will likely affect his entire life”: parents’ views of special education services during COVID-19’, International Journal of Educational Research, vol. 112, p. 101941. doi: 10.1016/j.ijer.2022.101941

Szécsi, J., et al., (2017) ‘Droghasználat a peremhelyzetben élő általános iskolás gyerekek körében’, in A Magyar Addiktológiai Társaság XI. Országos Kongresszusa: előadáskivonatok, eds K. Felvinczi & A. Eisinger, Magyar Addiktológiai Társaság, Siófok, pp. 52–53.

UNICEF (2020) What Have We Learnt? Overview of Findings from a Survey of Ministries of Education on National Responses to COVID-19 [online] Available at: https://data.unicef.org/resources/national-education-responses-to-covid19/

Utemissova, G. U., Danna, S. & Nikolaevna, V. N. (2021) ‘Cyberbullying during the COVID-19 pandemic’, Global Journal of Guidance and Counselling in Schools: Current Perspectives, vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 77–87. doi: 10.18844/gjgc.v11i2.5471

Williamson, B., Macgilchrist, F. & Potter, J. (2021) ‘Covid-19 controversies and critical research in digital education’, Learning, Media and Technology, vol. 46, no. 2, pp. 117–127. doi: 10.1080/17439884.2021.1922437

Yang, F. (2021) ‘Coping strategies, cyberbullying behaviours, and depression among Chinese netizens during the COVID-19 pandemic: a web-based nationwide survey’, Journal of Affective Disorders, vol. 281, pp. 138–144. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2020.12.023
How to Cite
Cziboly Ádám, Bethlenfalvy Ádám, Németh S., & Rajnai R. (2023). Learning patterns and risks in distance learning during the COVID-19 lockdown – the pupils’ perspective in drama pedagogy-based focus groups. Research in Learning Technology, 31. https://doi.org/10.25304/rlt.v31.2968
Original Research Articles