Television constitutes an important medium widely used to disseminate
information to its viewers. It has the unique feature of combining audio
and visual technology, and thus considered to be more effective than audio
media. It serves multiple purposes of entertainment, information and education.
Besides performing motivational function it helps in providing discovery
learning and cognitive development of its viewers. Because of its better
accessibility, it can bring learning materials to the masses in more direct,
effective and personal way than other educational media. Although every
media have some strengths and weaknesses, much more depends on how the
media is used. The researches carried out by Bates (1981,1983,1987, and
1988), Salomon (1979), and Olson and Bruner (1974) suggest the television
differs from other media in the way it can represent knowledge, and such
differences have certain pedagogic implications.
Use of television as an instructional medium was first reported in 1932
by State University of IOWA in USA on an experimental basis in a world
fair. Later on, due to the World War II the introduction of television
was slowed down; and as a result by 1948 there were very few educational
institutions involved in using television as an instructional medium in
spite of great interest in television by the educationists. Realizing
the power of television for educational purpose, “the Federal Communication
commission in USA reserved 242 frequencies for educational broadcast on
no profit and non-commercial basis in 1952” (Magnuson, 1965).
By the late 1950s, 17 programs used television in their instructional
materials. The use of educational television tended to grow slowly but
by 1961, 53 stations were affiliated with the National Educational Television
Network (NET) with the primary goal of sharing films and coordinating
scheduling (Hull, 1962). The number of educational television stations
grew more rapidly in the 1960s and, by 1972, 233 educational stations
existed (Carnegie Commission, 1979). Ohio University, University of Texas
and the University of Maryland were among the earliest universities to
create networks reach for both on-campus and off-campus student populations
(Brientenfield, 1968). Some other universities also started considering
on how to bring distance learning to select student populations with the
help of television.
Hizal (1983) enumerates
various functions of television in delivering education through distance
mode, like supporting and enhancing teaching; instructing; explaining,
clarifying; motivation and encouragement; imposing study speed (determining
rate of study); presenting a reference to large masses; changing behavior;
and presenting unreachable facts and events. Television can be an effective
tool as distance education delivery system. It can be integrated into
the curriculum to provide information either on a single lesson, or a
specific unit or even full course. The instructional television can be
interactive (allowing the viewers to interact with instructor or other
students live) or passive (airing pre-recorded programmes). Lochte (1993)
described an experiment using two-way television with two-way audio wherein
all students could view and interact with the teacher, and simultaneously
the teacher could view all participating students through the cameras
at remote sites.
Walker (1995) also
favored television for its audio and visual effects and reported that
it can be used to demonstrate processes or physical skills; to show movement;
to show visuals that reflect on the colour depth cues and motion of the
object; can be used for those who lack reading skills; help make distance
learning more personalized; make teaching learning live, attractive and
dynamic; and is useful for skill development. In addition to the advantages,
he highlighted some of the limitations of television of its being primarily
a one-way communication medium; broadcast is difficult to integrate with
other media; both production and transmission of programmes are costly;
production process is very lengthy; and it is restricted within the effective
range of the transmitter or satellite.
Seshratnam (2000) reported on the utilization of the instructional power
of television by The U.K Open University, the pioneer of distance teaching
learning system, from the very beginning. The main area of usage of TV
in the Open University was in experimental situations; to bring to students
primary resource material, i.e. film or video recordings of actual situation;
to record special events, experiments, species, places, people, buildings,
etc. which are crucial to the content of units, but may be likely to disappear,
die or be destroyed in the near future; and to demonstrate the use of
tools or equipment, or the efforts of tools or equipment.
Television first came to India [named as ‘Doordarshan’ (DD)]
on Sept 15, 1959 as the National Television Network of India. The first
telecast started on Sept 15, 1959 in New Delhi. After a gap of about 13
years, second television station was established in Bombay in 1972 and
by 1975 there were five more television stations at Shrinagar (Kashmir),
Amritsar (Punjab), Calcutta, Madras and Lucknow. For many years the transmission
was mainly in black & white. Television industry got the necessary
boost in the eighties when Doordarshan introduced colour TV during the
1982 Asian Games (http://www.indiantelevision.com/indianbrodcast/history/historyoftele.htm).
The second phase of growth was witnessed in the early nineties and during
the Gulf War, that foreign channel like CNN, Star TV and domestic channels
such as Zee TV and Sun TV started broadcast of satellite signal. This
changed the scenario and the people got the opportunity to watch regional,
national and international programmes. Starting with 41 sets in 1962 and
one channel (Audience Research unit, 1991) at present TV in India covers
more than 70 million homes giving a viewing population more than 400 million
individuals through more than 100 channels (http://www.indiantelevision.com).
Easy accessibility of relevant technology, variety of programmes and increased
hour of transmission are main reasons for rapid expansion of TV system
educational projects in India
In India, since the inception of TV network, television has been perceived
as an efficient force of education and development. With its large audience
it has attracted educators as being an efficient tool for imparting education
to primary, secondary and university level students. Some of the major
educational television projects are discussed as hereunder:
School television project (1961)
This project was designed for the secondary school students of Delhi.
With an aim to improve the standard of teaching in view of shortage of
laboratories, space, equipment and dearth of qualified teachers in Delhi
this project started on experimental basis in October 1961 for teaching
of Physics, Chemistry, English and Hindi for students of Class XI. The
lectures were syllabus-based and were telecasted in school hours as a
part and parcel of school activities. According to Paul (1968) ‘by
and large, the television schools did somewhat better in the test then
did the non-television schools’.
Agriculture Television (DATV) Project (Krishi Darshan) (1966)
The project named Krishi Darshan was initiated on January 26, 1966 for
communicating agricultural information to the farmers on experimental
basis for the 80 selected villages of Union territory of Delhi through
Community viewing of television and further discussions among themselves.
Experiment was successful and that there was substantial gain in the information
regarding agricultural practices. (IGNOU, 2000)
Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE)
This project, one of the largest techno-social experiments in human communication,
was commissioned for the villagers and their Primary School going children
of selected 2330 villages in six states of India. It started on August
1, 1975 for a period of one year in six states Rajasthan, Karnataka, Orissa,
Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. The main objectives of this
experiment, were to study the process of existing rural communications,
the role of television as new medium of education, and the process of
change brought about by the community television in the rural structure
with following two type of telecast:
education programmes in the area of agriculture and allied subjects, health,
family planning and social education, which were telecast in the evening
for community viewing.
2. The school programmes
of 22 ½ minutes duration each in Hindi, Kannada, Oriya and Telugu
were telecast on each school day for rural primary school children of
5-12 years age group to make the children realize the importance of science
in their day to day life.
showed that the new technology made it possible to reach number of people
in the remotest areas. The role of television was appreciated and it was
accepted in rural primary schools as an educational force (IGNOU, 2000).
The target group for this post SITE project was the villagers of Rajasthan.
This was a SITE continuity project and was initiated in March 1977 when
a terrestrial transmitter was commissioned at Jaipur. The main objectives
of SITE continuity project were to:
• Familiarize the rural masses with the improved and scientific
know how about farming, the use of fertilizers and the maintenance of
health and hygiene;
• Bring about national and emotional integration; and
• Make rural children aware of the importance of education and
This project was
National Satellite project (INSAT) (1982)
The prime objective of the INSAT project was aimed at making the rural
masses aware of the latest developments in the areas of agricultural productivity,
health and hygiene. It was initially targeted at villagers and their school
going Children of selected villages in Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar,
Gujrat, Maharastra and Uttar Pradesh. As a part of INSAT of Education
project, ETV broadcasts were inaugurated and continued through terrestrial
transmission from 15 August 1982 in Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. Later,
other states namely Bihar, Gujrat, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh were
covered under INSAT service using INSAT-1B in June 1983. In each state,
a cluster of 3-4 districts were selected on the basis of backwardness
of the area, availability of suitable developmental infrastructure and
utilization of existing production facilities.
programmes for community viewing, educational programmes (ETV) for two
different age groups of school children (5-8 years and 9-11 years) are
telecast daily. A capsule of 45 minutes duration consisting of two separate
programmes - one for the lower age group and the other for the upper age
group - were telecast regularly. Each programme runs for a duration of
20 minutes with five minutes change over time from one age group to the
other. As of today, these ETV programmes are offered in five languages-
Oriya, Telugu, Marathi, Gujarati and Hindi- for a large population of
primary school children. Programmes telecast in Hindi are being received
in all Hindi-speaking states in the northern belt (IGNOU, 2000).
Education Television Project (HETV) (1984)
University students were the beneficiaries of this project. The University
Grants Commission in collaboration with INSAT started educational television
project, popularly known as ‘Country wide Classroom’ on August
15, 1984 with the aim to update, upgrade and enrich the quality of education
while extending their reach. Under this programme, a one-hour programme
in English on a variety of subjects is presented with the objective of
general enrichment for undergraduates, educated public and the teachers
as well. An inter-university Consortium for Education Communication (CEC)
along with a chain of about 20 audio-visual media Mass Communication Research
Centres were set up by the UGC at different institutions in the country,
to ascertain high quality of programming for this project. Besides producing
programmes at these centers, some programmes are imported from other countries,
and are edited to suit the requirements of the Indian students. This project
is very popular among students, teachers and other learners.
The IGNOU-Doordarshan telecast programmes, designed mainly for Distance
learners started in May 1991. Initially they were telecast on Monday,
Wednesday and Friday from 6.30 to 7.00 A.M through the national network
of Doordarshan with an aim to provide tele-counselling to students of
open universities in remote areas. Owing to the encouraging response from
viewers, the frequency of this project was increased to five days a week.
This programme is very popular.
Educational Channel (2000)
Ministry of Human Resource Development, Information & Broadcasting,
the Prasar Bharti and IGNOU launched Gyan Darshan (GD) jointly on 26th
January 2000 as the exclusive Educational TV Channel of India. IGNOU was
given the responsibility to be the nodal agency for uplinking/ transmission.
It started out as a two-hour daily test transmission channel for students
of open and conventional Universities. This duration was increased in
February to nine hours a day. The time slot transmission was further increased
due to good response upto 16-hours by 1st June and by 1st November it
turned out to be 19-hours channel. Within one year of its launching, 26th
January 2001, it became non-stop daily 24 hours transmission channel for
educational programmes. “The programming constitutes 23 hrs of indigenous
programmes sourced from partner institutions and one hour of foreign programmes.
Transmission of 12 hrs each for curriculum based and enrichment programmes
is being made. The programmes of IGNOU CIET-NCERT including NOS are telecast
for four hours each, IIT programmes for three hours, CEC-UGC programmes
for two and a half hours and one hour each for TTTI and Adult Education.”
(IGNOU Profile –2002) The signal for Gyan Darshan transmission are
uplinked from the Earth Station (augmented as one plus one system for
redundancy) set up at IGNOU HQs New Delhi, and downlinked all over the
country through INSAT 3C on C Band Transponder. Although Gyan Darshan
has made its presence felt in all Open Universities and most of the prominent
conventional Universities /schools, it still has the potential to reach
to the door steps of learners through cable TV network. At present Gyan
Darshan through the cable transmission covers about 90% in Kerala, most
parts of Tamil Nadu, a few pockets in the North East, Nashik, Ahmedabad
and Pune. AsiaNet has been providing it free of cost in Kerala. Efforts
are being made to make Gyan Darshan available through terrestrial transmission.
Avatars of Educational Television
Television may be used along with other media in distance education for
interaction and to support learning materials, depending on the educational
system and desired outcomes. Below are some of the possible types of technology
In Open Telecast, television is the only instrument for learning, and
student learning is not monitored. Such Open Telecast has been found
most suitable for presentation of abstract mathematical concepts (Ahrens
et al, 1975); construction of physical models to represent abstract
ideas (Bates, 1975); Natural sciences; Laboratory based practical demonstrations
in the area of science including medical and engineering where experimentation
design is complex, costly and some times in accessible; Arts and culture
music and drama; Space sciences; and Community education such as public
awareness on developmental issues including public health.
with print support
Television along with the print support may be an appropriate combination
to reinforce the concepts dealt in a course-book (Berrigan, 1976 and
Kern, 1976). Here printed word may be adopted for Telecast for effective
viewing, listening and study skills. It also allows review of material
and limits need for distracting and note taking. It enriches and extends
with print and feedback
Here the students may submit their assignments to their learning centres
for necessary evaluation and feedback, after learning through television
supported by print. Learners may also interact with resource person
through mail or telephone after viewing the transmission. Teleconferencing
has perhaps emerged from this type of interaction. Such a system could
also be used to provide learner’s feedback to Course developers
and resource persons on the effectiveness of lesson.
Learner groups may participate in pre and post lesson academic activities
and have discussions among themselves. Counselors explain the difficult
concepts and encourage learners to participate, which acts as reinforcement
to their learning. This stimulates group and cooperative learning. Such
experiments have been successful in many countries including India.
Though not as formal learning system, entertainment events provide incidental
learning opportunities. Popular formats include the quiz show, soap
opera, or dial-in advice shows where topics of general interest like
health, sciences, commerce etc can be taken up.
Teletext is another form of communication system wherein text and graphics
are transmitted as digitized signals through air broadcasting or cable
channel for display on television set. Here the television functions like
a computer terminal for retrieval of textual information and graphics
from remote database. In this system, the information is stored in centralized
database, sequenced and indexed in the form of pages of text or graphics.
The signal can also be transmitted over one-way cable, air via radio vertical
blanking interval besides unused TV transmission lines (Johnstone and
Carlson, 1998). The digitalized text messages or pages of information
are continuously broadcasted in cycle. A viewer can access to all these
messages on a given channel in cycle or through control unit.
Teletext was developed in the early 1970s by engineers at the British
Broadcasting Company (BBC) and ITC (then known as IBA), the regulating
body of commercial networks in the United Kingdom. Although in 1974 general
specification regarding teletext was published in UK, but is was year
1976 when first teletext service was put into practice for general public
use. While teletext was being developed in England, France was proposing
its own system, known as Antiope. This system, first used in 1977, was
designed to transmit data over telephone lines, but failed to make use
of many of the characteristics of the television signal, however, their
another teletext service, Mintel was much successful. During late seventies
a Canadian teletext service Telidon was developed, tested, and designed
to produce very high-quality graphics. But this facility needed a complex
decoder to be put to use, which was not commonly available to the consumer
market at that time.
By 1984, as a result
of continued development, the teletext system evolved into what is now
known as World System Teletext (WST). More than 30 countries now use an
enhanced version of WST worldwide, utilizing decoders installed in television
receivers, which add little, if anything, to the cost of the sets. The
service is available in five levels, with each level showing an increasing
array of enhancements and graphics sophistication. The higher levels require
more complex decoding devices with progressively larger memories capable
of storing great numbers of teletext pages; thus, receivers capable of
decoding levels three, four and five may cost somewhat more than their
less-sophisticated counterparts. (NCAM, 2002)
The teletext service in India, popularly known as‘INTEXT’
(Indian teletext), was started by the Doordarshan Delhi on November 14,
1985. Similar to other teletext system, in INTEXT also the data are organized
into pages in the form of text and graphic symbols. The information is
pooled and transmitted on a few predetermined lines in vertical ’blanking’
interval of television signals. The information is in the form of magazines,
each of which contains about 100 pages with details of contents of the
magazine appearing on the first page, like news items, sport events, financial
trends, timings of arrival and departure of important trains, weather
forecast, city engagements, AIR and TV programmes to be telecast, etc.
Though, teletext has the potential for delivering educational instructions,
no such experiments have been reported in India.
• Teletext uses the television for information display, which
is almost universally present in homes or community centers. Thus it
has the potential to become mass media for imparting education to students
in general and deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers in particular.
provides the educational content in a very concise and effective manner
and thus makes learning appealing, interesting and less burdensome.
Further, the facility of quick updation keeps it’s viewers informed
of the recent happenings. It can be a very good media for career counseling
along with providing information about courses-in-demand, hot careers,
job opportunities, etc.
• It’s use in the area of education, agriculture, weather
forecasting, farm management, libraries, and industries etc would provide
effective management of services.
Television in education has undergone many incarnations. It has
been used extensively in conventional and distance education formats.
The developed countries are taking full advantage of television in education.
This has greater scope in developing countries also. The above discussed
projects on the use of television in education underline its role and
significance for achieving the goals set for education for all.
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