ECT 300 EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY: How did broadcasting historically develop?



6a ii). Examine the historical development of broadcasting

6.4 Historical development of broadcasting

The idea of passing messages through wireless apparatus was mooted around the 1890’s. however, the breakthrough was made by an American Reginald Fessenden on December 24, 1906, when his station in Massachusetts (USA) transmitted voice and music over a distance of 24 kilometers to ships and shore stations. Broadcasting to homes began in earnest in 1920.


Radio pioneer Reginald Fessenden



Formal portrait of  Reginald Fessenden


Educational broadcasting in America developed out of efforts by educators to establish radio stations for purposes of technical research and development rather than to establish a viable new form of education. However, from these humble beginnings, educational radio grew very quickly to encompass 171 stations by 1925. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) had its first public radio service in November 1922, and proceeded to pioneer international broadcasting in November 1927.

School broadcasting was started by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in 1924 (radio), followed by Japan in 1931, Australia and New Zealand in 1932, India 1938, and Canada 1941. It extended to the third world in the 1950s. The educational television followed later in 1957 (BBC) and 1959 (Japan) and extended to the third world in the 1960’s notably in Ivory Coast, Thailand and Latin America. In the USA most of the radio stations were owned by colleges and universities who aimed at offering educational programs in college work and extension courses, presenting programs of broadly cultural nature that were a cut above what was usually available from commercial stations and using the facilities to train students in the in the techniques of broadcasting.

Educators were drawn into this medium because of its potentiality to reach large audiences with use and instantaneously, its ability to enlarge the effect of teaching resources and also because it was appealing and contemporary. School broadcasts enriched the learning process by offering experiences of the world beyond the classroom walls, tapping the pupils’ experience on the immediate environment and in the process making learning interesting. It was also thought that a well-organized broadcast could do much to offset a poorly trained or poorly motivated teacher. The selling was however not meant to replace the teacher but rather to supplement his/her efforts.

Due to rapid technological development, educational radio just barely survived the 1920’s through to 1940’s only to be confronted by stiff competition by another technological advancement namely, the television. In the 1950’s new patterns of media, development emerged in form of the television. During this period the educational radio was extended to the developing world. The early enthusiasm for radio produced a natural counter-reaction that is the fact that it is purely audio. To some extent producing a wide range of accompanying support materials (visuals) offset this. The television came out to be a powerful medium of communication as it could be used to broadcast visual impressions of reality through space. The television with its wider range of audiovisual resources seemed to offer a new solution. Bother the radio and television had one advantage of stretching the scarce resources (i.e. teachers and specialists) to benefits several millions of pupils. Britain had started regular television had one advantage of stretching the scarce resources (i.e. teachers and specialists) to benefits several millions of pupils. Britain had started regular television broadcasts in 1937 and was joined by the US after the Second World War Japan followed by setting up its first television station for regular broadcasting through the Japanese Broadcasting Corporation, also known as the Nippon Hoso Kyokai (HNK) in 1953. Australia expanded the operations of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) in 1956.

In Kenya, the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) started a School’s Broadcasting Service (SBS) in 1963. The service aimed at beaming its programs to primary schools. At this time KBC used to broadcast BBC produced programs to teach Mathematics and English. In 1965, the SBC became a division in the ministry of Education. Later in the early 70’s the SBC became known as the Educational Media Service (EMS) and was transferred to Kenya Institute of Education (KIE). This was to enable it to integrate its materials production with printed materials production and curriculum development which was already underway at KIE. The KIE itself had been established by an act of parliament in 1968, to among other things prepare educational materials connected with the training of teachers, and development of education and training.

By 1975, the air time allocated to school’s broadcasts was six hours a day, the British Council offered scholarships to nine professional teachers to train at the Kenya Institute of Mass Communication (KIMC) on how to produce radio programs and supporting visuals. In 1976, the World Bank granted a loan to enable the EMS to develop facilities for audio, video, film, tape, slides and photographic material. However, the use of this equipment has not been maximized due to lack of funds. By 1991 the EMS was still producing only radio programs for broadcasts. Television and film facilities have not been fully functional due to the high cost of production. The only audio visual materials produced by the EMS have been for the exclusive use of the teacher training colleges. Up to 1995, the EMS produced and aired radio programs to primary, secondary schools, teacher training colleges, and in-service teachers. The Kenya Broadcasting Corporation halted the service due to nonpayment of air time by K.I.E. Television facilities had also been installed but due to the high costs of production have not been fully functional.


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