Home > Uncategorized > Television Instruction is a Pale Substitute for Online Instruction… But It’s Low Cost Might Appeal to Politicians

Television Instruction is a Pale Substitute for Online Instruction… But It’s Low Cost Might Appeal to Politicians

August 8, 2020

I’ve read a couple of Facebook posts suggesting the US should offer the same kind of remote learning as Mexico is: dedicate a channel (or more) to instruction and encourage children at home to watch the programs and (presumably) learn what they could at school. This Instructional Television (ITV) solution is a preposterous 1950s solution that will do nothing to help children who lack computers to stay even with their classmates and is a pale comparison to Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI). Here’s a quick list of reasons why:

  • Programming is not asynchronous: Unlike online instruction like Khan Academy, which is available 24/7 for as long or as little as a student needs it, TV programs must be offered at a specific time slot for a specific duration. A clear advantage fo CAI.
  • The pace is not set by the student: Because the programming is NOT asynchronous the pacing of teaching and learning is set by whoever manages the TV programming— NOT the student. Another clear advantage to CAI.
  • There is no mechanism for on-demand intervention: CAI programs like Khan Academy are designed to provide reteaching of some kind when a student fails to demonstrate mastery and at some point can make a live person available to support the struggling student. This is impossible in ITV. Another advantage CAI.
  • In order to widen the array of programming some kind of broadband or cable interface wold be needed: The presumption is that ITV would provide all students with an opportunity to learn their curriculum… which requires a multiplicity of channels, something that, in turn, would require access to either YouTube or cable television connections, neither of which are necessarily available to children raised in poverty or children living in remote areas. Another CAI advantage.

There is one decided advantage to offering one channel for learning, though: it is cheaper than providing high speed internet services to poor children or children who live in remote rural areas! And since it is cheaper, it would not require an additional outlay of government funds for infrastructure, would not require additional staffing to provide the tech support needed for CAI, and would seem to address the problem of inequity of opportunity by “making it possible for any child to get instruction”.

ITV was tried in schools in the 1950s and fell flat. It was a bad idea then, it is an even worse idea now… unless, that is, saving money on schools is the ultimate goal.

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