ECT 300 EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY: What are some of the limitations of using live radio broadcasts in teaching?

CHAPTER 6 

EDUCATIONAL BROADCASTING

6a v).Analyze some of the limitations of using live radio broadcasts in teaching.

6.7 Limitations of live radio broadcasts.

As mentioned earlier in this unit every medium has strengths and weaknesses and it is therefore incumbent on the teacher to take this into account every time s/he selects media to use in classroom instruction. The limitations discussed in this section apply mostly to live radio transmissions. Live transmissions of radio programs have the following limitations (or weaknesses):-

i). Concentrated attention

Radio being an audial media requires a high degree of concentration from the listener in view of its dependence on the aural sense (we learn only 11% through the aural sense and 83%through the sense of sight). However, it is advantageous when teaching or listening to musical programs. This limitation forces the producer to make the program presentation interesting so that the audience can stay tuned. One way of doing this especially for young learners is to make the programs have attractive musical interludes that adversely reduce boredom. Better still the length of the program should be appropriate, normally a 20-minute program is most suitable.

Television on the other hand rates high on this point as it has both sound and vision and is perceived by both the eyes and the ears.

ii). One way Communication

The second limitation of both radio and the television is the lack of an interactive facility that is the listeners have no way of talking back to the presenter. In normal teaching/learning, there is a need for the learner to be able to get back at the presenter (teacher) through verbal as well as non-verbal reactions. This is not possible when using radio or the television as the communication is one way namely from the teacher to the learner. The classroom teacher and the pupils have to simply receive the content and not interact with the station. The classroom teacher should strive to bridge the gap through both the preview and the review of the broadcast. The classroom teacher can explain the new words, ideas, concepts before the broadcast as a way of preparing the pupils for listening. Another way of encouraging participation would be to integrate activities that would require the listener to respond while the radio teacher has given a task and paused. The teacher can also arrange for a serious discussion of the broadcast content after each radio lesson.

iii). Timing and scheduling

The media service (in our case the Educational Media Service) follows timetable sent out to schools earlier that spells out the time and day for the subjects to be taught through a radio that year. These timetables reach schools late with some not reaching their destinations at all. Again within schools, school timetables do not agree with the transmission timetable with most of them being out of phase with the broadcast timetable. Also, the order of topics in the teacher’s notes may not synchronize with the school teacher’s schemes of work. This lack of harmony leads to schools ignoring the transmissions. One disadvantage of using broadcasts is that unless there are repeat transmissions of each program the classroom teacher must commit himself/herself to the series well in advance by way of knowing exactly what its content and approach will be. In this regard, the media service or broadcasting station should avail timetables as well as general information on the content and approach of the radio lessons as early as possible (seven months is fair). The information can be in the form of teacher’s’ notes giving a detailed program outline, suggestions for further work and questions for further discussion on the broadcasts.

The class teacher should carefully integrate the broadcast content into his/her daily lesson planning; otherwise, students can become confused between the topic of the broadcast and the topic they are studying during the rest of the class time. One way of doing this by using recorded materials instead of tuning in for the “live” broadcast. The individual schools can make arrangements to copy these audio materials at the Media service.

For students, if they are adults, a complete and clear statement of aims and a detailed summary of the content to be learned should be availed, they should also get information on program outlines, dates, times and station frequencies, the notes should also include suggestions for reading or other preparatory work. In developed countries, there is usually a station set aside for school broadcasts but in developing countries, this is a luxury and it is not uncommon to find the same station beaming out educational material and at times catering for other national needs such as presidential functions. The situation is worse in the case of the television as it usually operates outside school hours (mainly late afternoon to midnight) thus making it impossible for schools to benefit from the broadcasts. This timing problem forces schools to ignore educational broadcasts.

iv). Administrative problems

the receiving equipment namely the radio set or the television must be well maintained if the users are to benefit from it. The operation cost is sometimes very high and this forces some schools not to use them. The equipment should always be in an excellent operating condition, be properly tuned in on time and be available when needed. Sometimes there maybe only one radio set in a multi streamed school. There may be no large room where all the streams may listen or view the program together. In such cases inevitably some pupils might have to miss the broadcast. That is why there should be provision for repeat transmissions of each program to cater for such cases. The ministry of education should in conjunction with the media service organizer for regional centers at the district or provincial level to repair and maintain the radio sets.

v). Reception

Reception of the transmission is yet another limitation. The electromagnetic waves that carry the signals are often weak especially when they have to go round mountains. Places far away from the transmitting station suffer from poor reception. There is also lack of booster stations to strengthen the reception. In Kenya, areas far away from Nairobi (where the transmission is done) do not receive the General Service well, yet it is through the general service that the school broadcasts are aired out. The government of Kenya has over the years made efforts to set up booster stations across the country to improve the reception. When the reception is poor, the pupils will not be able to listen and benefit from the radio broadcast. Poor reception can also be due to poor weather.

vi). No pre-hearing and re-usability

radio and television have no provisions for previewing and reusability. Whereas it is possible to revise a chapter in a textbook, ask a teacher to repeat a piece of explanation, it is not possible to “turn back a page” of a radio program to review. The pupils must be encouraged to make careful, concentrated use of the broadcast while it is occurring. The class teacher should read and understand the teacher’s’ notes well before the broadcast to acquaint himself with the content.

vii). Level of listeners.

During the production of the broadcast material, the script writer, producer and media specialist assume an average listener. Therefore the product may be too advanced for some pupils and yet too low for some. The classroom teacher should, therefore, make an attempt to bridge the gap in ability. The gap can be bridged by preparing pupils in well in advance for the broadcast, conducting them through the broadcast and finally during the follow-up.

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