ECT 300 EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY: What are some of the models of communication in teaching? What are the advantages and disadvantages of these models?


Communication Process and Learning

1a ii). Explain what Models of Communication are; their advantages and Disadvantages.

1.4 Models of communication

A model is a consciously simplified description in the graphic form of a piece of reality that seeks to show the main elements of any structure or process and the relationships between them.

1.4.1 Advantages of using models in explaining concepts

Models have the following advantages when used to explain concepts:

  • Models have an organizing function by ordering and relating systems to each other and by providing us with images of holes that might otherwise not perceive
  • Models help in explaining by providing in a simplified way information which would otherwise be complicated and ambiguous
  • Models make it possible to predict outcomes
  • Models aid in the discovery of new facts about any concept i.e. they serve a heuristic function

1.4.2 Disadvantages of using models in explaining concepts

Models have the following disadvantages when used to explain concepts:

  • They tend to limit users within confines
  • They tend to represent communication as a one-way process, thus denying circularity, negotiability, and openness of communication
  • Models are inevitably incomplete, oversimplified or involve some concealed assumptions

1.4.3 Examples of models of communication

Communication is based on the relationship between two parties whereby through common understanding and acceptance an exchange of various human elements are experienced. There are various models that attempt to explain the concept communication. Lasswell’s Formula (1948)

Harold Lasswell came up with the Lasswell’s formula which takes the form of a statement “ WHO says WHAT, in which CHANNEL to WHOM and with what EFFECTS. IN the statement WHO refers to the source of the signals, WHAT refers to the message being passed, CHANNEL, refers to the means or media through which the message is passed, WHOM refers to the receivers of the message and EFFECTS refer to the impact of message.

The Lasswell’s model is similar to what Aristotle proposed over 2300 years ago.

The Lasswell’s model implies that communication is a persuasive process. It also assumes that messages always have effects and was therefore ideal as a propaganda tool during the post World War II era. The model has no feedback and is linear.  

Braddock ( 1958) improved lasswell’s model by asking “ Under what circumstances” and “For what purpose” is the communication taking place.


Harold Laswell Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver’s (1949)

The machine technologies and telecommunications systems developed during the 1940’s led to the mathematical model by Shannon and Weave that were designed to provide precise description of the mechanics of transmitting a message, without regard to the content or meaning of the message. Shannon worked for the Bell Telephone Laboratory and his theories and model relate primarily to this field by asking “How much of the transmitted message will be destroyed by noise between the transmitter and the receiver.”  The model is linear and is one way. Noise in this context defined as anything that reduces the clarity or accuracy of the message as it moves from the source to the receiver via the transmitter. The noise distorts the message.

Image result for Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver's (1949) C.E Osgood and Wilbur Schramm (1954)

The model by Osgood and Schramm put communication in the human context and focused on the meaning of a message as a vital aspect of the process. This is a circular model that concentrates on the behavior of the main actors i.e. the sender and the receiver. The sender and the receiver exchange roles as the communication process goes on. The two skills of visual literacy are in use namely encoding and decoding. Encoding involves creating a verbal signal out of a visual image while decoding involves forming a visual image out of a verbal signal. Interpretation by the sender involves organizing further messages in light of the feedback received while interpretation by the receiver involves digesting the message and organizing the feedback.

Schramm remarked “We are little switchboard centers handling and rerouting the great endless current of information”


Wilbur Schramm David Berlo

David Berlo’s model emphasizes the psychological nature of communication in respect of how it affects both the sender and the receiver in a communication transaction. The model is commonly known as the S-M-C-R model of communication. The components of this model are explains follows:

S- Stands for Source which must have the following attributes. The source must have communication skills, have favorable attitudes towards the receiver, must be knowledgeable and operate within some acceptable socio-cultural context.

M- Stands for message. This is content which must be coded and treated properly.

C- Stands for channel which corresponds to the five senses namely seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and tasting.

R -Stands for Receiver, who must have attributes similar to the source.


David Berlo Tubbs and Moss (1994)

They presented a version of the transactional model. In this model, communication occurs when two or more individuals send messages to one another and receive the message from one another using one or more channels. The messages are subject to distortion. Filters in the sender (e.g inadequate vocabulary, lack of organization or clarity, biases) distort a message as it is sent. Filters and the receiver (e.g. Fatigue, daydreaming limited knowledge about the topic) distort a message as it is received. Other notable models have been advanced by


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