The introduction of interactive television offers new potentialities to the television medium with the possibility of including e-commerce, programs on demand, games, and, last but not least, educational programs. Digital television will allow forms of lifelong learning to disadvantaged sectors of the population, namely those potential learners that have no possibility to improve their own knowledge caused by problems such as lack of free time due to working hours, family care, and so forth. Much of the interactive potentiality of this new medium will depend on the possibility of having a back-channel, connecting television to the Internet. A back-channel would allow the user to store choices, preferences, progress in learning units, and so forth, in the memory. In other words, there is the possibility of customizing the programs offered and the interface according to user preferences. The potentialities of this new medium are numerous, and it is necessary to explore, experiment with, and facilitate the new methods of available interaction. Every great technological change has also meant a change in perspective and mindset. What generally happens in the early stages of the utilization of new technological solutions is that the new tools available continue to be used while adopting an outdated mentality. It is necessary to propose a pedagogical model for the learning programs offered by new technology.
The Internet is shattering traditional teaching and learning styles. Most education today is information transfer from the teacher’s mind to those of learners. This traditional delivery system is only one way to learn. What the Internet is doing is splitting the traditional teaching method into two parts: cognitive learning, which can be accomplished with online learning, and affective learning, which can be carried out in a small-group discussion setting (Draves, 2000). E-learning has evolved from the first static Web sites to systems where the focus is now on content personalization. Researchers attempt to adapt didactic material to students’ unique learning styles, trying to meet individual student needs. E-learning can be considered more a social than a technological phenomenon, since the main issue in e-learning is learning, and not the technological media employed (Santos, Vale, & Meloni, 2006).
There are several aspects that can make online learning better than classroom learning:
A learner can learn during his optimal learning time during the day
A learner can learn at his own speed
A learner can focus on specific content areas
A learner can test himself daily
A learner can interact more with the teacher.
Online learning is less expensive and thus more accessible
One can learn from the foremost authorities and experts
Interaction between the participants and teacher, as well as interaction among the participants themselves, is at the heart of online learning.
New Medium, New Learning
A few public service educational broadcasters and commercial broadcasters have started or are about to offer learning programs due to the increased capacity made available by digital TV. In some instances, it may not be appropriate for educational providers to offer interactive services via TV at this stage, as interactivity will best be achieved via the Internet. For example, a university-level course may involve broadcasting a TV program, but as most people taking a university course will have a computer for writing assignments, it is probably easier to offer interactivity via the Internet (PJB Associates, 2004). However, where there is need to target people who would not normally participate in further education, interactivity becomes very important in transforming them from passive viewers to active participants. A new medium will require a new way of learning, as the learning setting, users, time, and goals will be vastly different from those of e-learning.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Edutainment: Edutainment is a form of entertainment designed to educate as well as to amuse. Edutainment typically seeks to instruct its audience by embedding lessons in some familiar form of entertainment: television programs, computer and video games, multimedia software, and so forth. Most often, edutainment seeks either to tutor in one or more specific subjects or to change behavior by engendering specific sociocultural attitudes.
Interactive Television: Interactive television describes technology allowing viewers to interact with television content while viewing. To be truly interactive, the viewer must be able to alter the viewing experience or return information to the broadcaster. This “back channel” can be by telephone, mobile SMS (text messages), or cable.
Informal Learning: Learning resulting from daily activities, often related to experiential learning and often considered accidental learning; it may be intentional but is generally mostly non-intentional from the learner’s point of view.
Lazy Interactivity: The ability of users to flick directly from a TV program to datacasting services as opposed to going from one system into another or using a relatively complex medium such as the Internet.
Nonformal Learning: Learning embedded in planned activities not explicitly designed as learning but containing an important learning element, intentional from the learner’s point of view.
Implicit Learning: The acquisition of knowledge independently of conscious attempts to learn and the absence of explicit knowledge about what was learned.
Lifelong Learning: In a European Commission memorandum, the definition is “all purposeful learning activity undertaken on an ongoing basis with the aim of improving knowledge, skills, and competences.” A broader definition would also include lifelong learning as a means of reintegrating the alienated back into society and promoting active citizenship. It should also embrace the possibilities of using lifelong learning to promote people’s personal development and value as human beings. A broader definition would then stress lifelong learning as learning over the entire lifespan, including all learning activity, whether formal or informal with the aim of improving knowledge, skills, and promoting personal fulfillment.
Back-Channel: A means of communication between users and content providers. A simple type of back-channel is an Internet connection using a modem. Viewers and listeners can use a back-channel to provide feedback, request additional information, and purchase goods and services.
T-Learning: T-Learning refers to the offering of e-learning services using digital TV technologies. T-learning, a shorthand meaning for TV-based interactive learning, is about having interactive access to video-rich learning materials primarily within the home by means of a television or a device more like a TV than a personal computer. T-learning can be seen as the convergence of two technologies: television and the computer.
Formal Learning: Learning taking place within an organized, structured context like formal education or company training, which is intentional from the learner’s perspective and may lead to formal recognition (diploma, certificate).
Reactive Learning: A form of learning that is explicit but takes place almost spontaneously and in response to recent, current, or imminent situations but without any time being specifically set aside for it.