Broadcasting interactive learning applications through the digital TV promises to open new pedagogical perspectives given the wide penetration of the medium. This case deals with an open, flexible learning oriented technological framework for interactive digital TV. The framework is divided into two main parts: the production side, where the course is created and the client side, where it is presented on interactive digital television (iDTV) through an interactive learning environment. The course production is supported by an ad-hoc designed authoring tool, which has been thought for a use by pedagogical experts, while the runtime user interaction on iDTV is managed by a Course Multimedia Player. Experimental television learning (t-learning) courses were created by pedagogical experts and served as an important test and evaluation bench for the framework.
Television has had a long history of performing an educational function for the mass audience, broadcasting edutainment, documentaries and news as well as educational programmes. The arrival of interactive television has the potential to expand the power of the medium by providing interactive learning opportunities. TV-based interactive education promises a huge potential due to its ability to support interactivity while compensating for the low penetration of Internet-enabled computers in comparison with the penetration of a TV in a household. “T-learning” was the new term, which introduced for the definition of TV-based interactive learning (Aarreniemi-Jokipelto, 2005).
Interactive learning services (usually known as e-learning) have provided important solutions and advantages, in particular for Intelligent Tutoring Systems (Shute and Psotka, 1996; Wenger, 1987) that provide personalized support to users, lowering the typical barriers of space, time and availability of contents and services for learning. In this context, t-learning may provide a further specific contribution, thanks to the pervasivity and popularity of TV (especially among a demographic that is not keen on using computers), and exploit typical traditional TV features, such as relaxed and easy use, mix of education and entertainment, media driven proposal of contents, important role of authors/directors in the preparation/delivery of contents.
In this section we will present the history of television as an educational medium and the technologies of the digital interactive TV (iDTV). Subsequently, in the next sections, the methodology for designing t-learning services will be discussed and a personalized technological framework for t-learning will be described and evaluated.