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How can ICTs help transform the learning environment into one that is learner-centered?

How have radio and TV broadcasting been used in education?

Radio and television have been used widely as educational tools since the 1920s and the 1950s, respectively. There are three general approaches to the use of radio and TV broadcasting in education:

  1. direct class teaching, where broadcast programming substitutes for teachers on a temporary basis;
  2. school broadcasting, where broadcast programming provides complementary teaching and learning resources not otherwise available
  3. general educational programming over community, national and international stations which provide general and informal educational opportunities

The most notable and best documented example of the direct class teaching approach is Interactive Radio Instruction (IRI).This consists of "ready-made 20-30 minute direct teaching and learning exercises to the classroom on a daily basis. The radio lessons, developed around specific learning objectives at particular levels of maths, science, health and languages in national curricula, are intended to improve the quality of classroom teaching and to act as a regular, structured aid to poorly trained classroom teachers in under-resourced schools." IRI projects have been implemented in Latin America and Africa. In Asia, IRI was first implemented in Thailand in 1980; Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal rolled out their own IRI projects in the 1990s. What differentiates IRI from most other distance education programs is that its primary objective is to raise the quality of learning - and not merely to expand educational access - and it has had much success in both formal and non-formal settings. Extensive research around the world has shown that many IRI projects have had a positive impact on learning outcomes and on educational equity. And with its economies of scale, it has proven to be a cost-effective strategy relative to other interventions.

Mexico’s Telesecundaria is another notable example of direct class teaching, this time using broadcast television. The programme was launched in Mexico in 1968 as a cost-effective strategy for expanding lower secondary schooling in small and remote communities.Perraton describes the programme thus:

Centrally produced television programs are beamed via satellite throughout the country on a scheduled basis (8 am to 2 pm and 2 pm to 8 pm) to Telesecundaria schools, covering the same secondary curriculum as that offered in ordinary schools. Each hour focuses on a different subject area and typically follows the same routine - 15 minutes of television, then book-led and teacher-led activities. Students are exposed to a variety of teachers on television but have one home teacher at the school for all disciplines in each grade.

The design of the programme has undergone many changes through the years, shifting from a "talking heads" approach to more interactive and dynamic programming that "link[s] the community to the programme around the teaching method. The strategy meant combining community issues into the programs, offering children an integrated education, involving the community at large in the organization and management of the school and stimulating students to carry out community activities." Assessments of Telesecundaria have been encouraging: drop out rates are slightly better than those of general secondary schools and significantly better than in technical schools. In Asia, the 44 radio and TV universities in China (including the China Central Radio and Television University), Universitas Terbuka in Indonesia, and Indira Ghandi National Open University have made extensive use of radio and television, both for direct class teaching and for school broadcasting, to reach more of their respective large populations. For these institutions, broadcasts are often accompanied by printed materials and audio cassettes.

Japan’s University of the Air was broadcasting 160 television and 160 radio courses in 2000. Each course consists of 15 45-minute lectures broadcast nationwide once a week for 15 weeks. Courses are aired over University-owned stations from 6 am to 12 noon. Students are also given supplemental print materials, face-to-face instruction, and online tutorials.

Often deployed with print materials, cassettes and CD-ROMS, school broadcasting, like direct class teaching, is geared to national curricula and developed for a range of subject areas. But unlike direct class instruction, school broadcasting is not intended to substitute for the teacher but merely as an enrichment of traditional classroom instruction. School broadcasting is more flexible than IRI since teachers decide how they will integrate the broadcast materials into their classes. Large broadcasting corporations that provide school broadcasts include the British Broadcasting Corporation Education Radio TV in the United Kingdom and the NHK Japanese Broadcasting Station. In developing countries, school broadcasts are often a result of a partnership between the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Information.

General educational programming consists of a broad range of programme types - news programs, documentary programs, quiz shows, educational cartoons, etc. - that afford non-formal educational opportunities for all types of learners. In a sense, any radio or TV programming with informational and educational value can be considered under this type. Some notable examples that have a global reach are the United States-based television show Sesame Street, the all-information television channels National Geographic and Discovery, and the radio programme Voice of America.The Farm Radio Forum, which began in Canada in the 1940s and which has since served as a model for radio discussion programs worldwide, is another example of non-formal educational programming.