Stefanos Vrochidis (Informatics and Telematics Institute, Greece), Francesco Bellotti (University of Genoa, Italy), Giancarlo Bo (Giunti Labs S.r.l., Italy), Linda Napoletano (O.R.T., France) and Ioannis Kompatsiaris (Informatics and Telematics Institute, Greece)
Copyright: © 2009
Following the rapidly growing technology, TV started to switch-off from the analogue world to the modern digital technologies of broadcasting. Digital technology has the potential to offer the audience a variety of services apart from the common audiovisual stream. Many of the new services are inherited from the Personal Computers (PC) world, including on-demand features, games, transactions, and other interactive options. Television has had a long history of performing an educational function for the mass audience, typically by broadcasting culturally-relevant movies, documentaries and news, as well as educational programmes. The idea of Distance Learning through a TV blossomed extensively in particular as a complementary educational option besides PC-based e-learning and traditional analogue TV educational programs. In particular, 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.
The first forms of learning with interactive Digital TV (iDTV) have been little more than modified or enhanced videoconferencing. Today, iDTV platforms for learning provide a big amount of audiovisual and educational contents to the viewer through interactive and content personalization. iDTV is considered as the convergence of television and computer technologies by encompassing three important features typical of computer-based technologies (Lytras Lougos, Chozos, & Pouloudi, 2002):
Interactivity: The control of the whole activity and of the elements of a single activity can be placed into the hands of the potential consumer (Watheieu & Zoglio, 2002);
Personalization: Use of technology and viewer information, to tailor interactive content to each individual viewer profile (Lekakos & Giaglis, 2001); and
Digitization: Technological advancements that allow better quality of sound and picture (Kenyon, Miles, & Rose, 2000).
In particular, considering the use of the media by its audience, TV has some features that make it different from PCs. First of all, TV is usually watched by more than one person (co-viewing), and usually triggers social interactions that are very useful for a more effective experience and interiorization of the contents. Secondly, the logic of broadcasting to a wide population enables social mass mechanisms that typically enhance the impact of the broadcast program.
Nowadays, there are signs that the TV providers are moving to interactive education by broadcasting educational programs that exploit the interactivity of iDTV. A characteristic example is the BBC channel, which offers a learning portal (BBC learning) that provides interactive learning services and covers all the most widespread media, such as radio, TV, iDTV, Web and broadband. Some of the Web interactive services of BBC are also available in BBCi Interactive TV as the ones devoted to preschool children (BBC CBeebies) and support “Learning through play”1. Although t-learning as a rather new concept has not been applied so widely in interactive TV, there is a number of projects that support and investigate the future penetration of t-learning as the Enhanced Learning Unlimited (ELU) project which is currently dealing with the iDTV technologies for the design and the implementation of an integrated t-learning system2.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Return Channel: Port that allows IP connectivity of the STB to support on demand features.
Personalization: The customization and categorization procedure of a viewer-learner.
Authoring Tool: Environment for applications creation without the need of programming and technical skills.
T-Learning: Term that defines the TV-based interactive learning.
MHP: Multimedia Home Platform is the common middleware for running applications for iDTV.
IDTV: Interactive Digital TV is the evolution of the traditional TV set based on digital transmission and has the capability of running interactive applications.
Synchronization: This term is used to specify the time-matching between the t-learning content and the respective video.
E-Learning: Distance learning with the aid of a personal computer.
Virtual Teacher: Avatar that plays the role of a teacher during a t-learning course by providing instructions and help.