Saturday, September 27, 2008

Channels for communication and for distribution of learning content

Back in the twenties, when listing to the radio became common in western countries, many people thought that radio would replace other media for learning. In the sixties, TV was expected to get the same role and in the nineties it was computers and the Internet that we thought would be the solution to all problems in learning.

But what really happened was that new media didn’t replace the old alternatives, it only added more possibilities. What Gutenberg did back in 1439 (or was it the Chinese much earlier?) is still very much relevant! M-learning and e-learning introduces new possibilities, but make neither books nor face to face learning obsolete. Using the media that is most suitable for the purpose is a good idea!

Also, when the Internet infrastructure is weak, like in some places in Africa, one has to play it safe and not rely too much on "high tech", but use what is available and stable! My colleague Peter showed me this picture:

Maybe the mobile phone (mobile Internet) now has a higher bandwidth and is more accessible than dial-up Internet and the picture is a bit outdated, but the idea is still relevant.

The video clip below, a demo produced as part of an in-service teacher education course, can be distributed through broadband Internet, mobile Internet, memory cards and CD's and played on computers, mobile phones with video capacity and low cost media players. (When producing for these channels one has to have the limits of the different channels in mind, in this case the small screen and the limited possibilities to interact with the material.)>

The purpose of this video clip in the course is primarily to serve as an overview of a section in a course compendium (a printed material) and to help the students to focus on the central parts of the material when they read it. The presentation can also be used to repeat and reinforce what they have already read. Also, it suits those students who are less susceptible to written text as they might prefer listening to learning material (the theory of "learning styles").