Mane (CRIN 604)






         Digital tools in education

February 6, 2010

Chapter 2: Instructional television

Filed under: Electronic Field Trips,Instructional television — mepada @ 8:54 pm

I agree when Cuban states that “instructional television…has been and continues to be used as an accessory to rather than the primary vehicle for basic instruction”, and then again…isn’t that the case with most technologies? Radio, film, TV, tape players, computers, social media, even the “out-of-date” blackboard they all constitute tools we use in instruction that help us (ideally)  effectively deliver content, successfully reach our students who have different learning styles and capably  improve on the quality of our teaching/learning process. In my opinion the “primary vehicle for instruction” still remains the teacher/professor her/himself. Everything else enables that course of action. Even “hard-core” online instruction encourage students to access the instructor/teaching assistants when they require help/instructions/clarification.

After reading this chapter I became curious about our own Colonial Williamsburg instructional TV production efforts. I visited their website (http://www.history.org/history/teaching/) and discovered many teacher resources available, among them the “Electronic Field Trips”

EFT are “Interactive, interdisciplinary programs that immerse students in the excitement of American history”

  • Live National Television Broadcasts that bring American history alive in your classroom
  • Innovative distance learning/Emmy-Award winning program for grades 4-8
  • Relevant stories of people, places, and events from the past that motivate today’s learners
  • Broadcasts air at 10 AM and 1 PM Eastern Time (closed caption/audio descriptions)
  • Broadcast on participating PBS stations and cable channels.
  • Streaming broadcasts live on your classroom computer
  • Live toll-free call-in and e-mail questions to Colonial Williamsburg historians
  • Online voting, video previews, and year-long student message board

 They based this program on the premise that it will:

  • Immerse students in authentic historical content
  • Build civics, history, and literacy skills
  • Infuse technology and interactive learning into a differentiated learning classroom
  • Fill information gaps and enhance background knowledge
  • Help students develop communication skills
  • Enhance students’ ability to gather and synthesize information from a variety of sources

They also state that these “classroom materials and programs are developed by teachers, museum professionals, and historians. Electronic Field Trips are designed to meet grades 4–8 state standards in social studies, language arts, arts education, and library/technology literacy, and science (when applicable).”

In my opinion, this program could be a very useful resource and “out-of-the-box” product that additionally provides step-by-step guidance to teachers interested in bringing this TV-based programming into the classroom. I should mention that there is price of $500 for the series or $120 for individual programs that obviously a school system would have to pay; however, the benefits may outweigh the constraints in this case!

Perhaps adoption of programs such as this one would prove the statements  made on page 50 wrong: ” If something happened tomorrow to wipe out all instructional television, America’s schools and colleges would hardly know it was gone”.