The tables below illustrates the role of technologies for supporting learning. In one way applications, if the tools are put in the hands of subject experts to produce learning materials then they support the learnerís conceptualisation. If, on the other hand, the learner is required to produce the handout, make a video about..., make a tape about..., give a lecture about..., then the same tools now support construction.
Media Optimum One-way applications Learning phase no. of supported participants Face to Face 10-200 Lecturing Conceptualisation print 20-1000+ course units; supplementary Conceptualisation, materials Construction audio 50-1000 cassette programmes; radio Conceptualisation programmes computer 100+ CAL, CAI, CBT, databases, Conceptualisation, multi-media, CD-ROM, Construction productivity tools, structuring tools television 5000+ broadcast programmes; taped Conceptualisation programmes
Media Optimum Two-way applications Learning phase no. of supported participants Face to face 5-10 Seminars, discussions, tutorials Construction and Dialogue print 20-1000+ correspondence tutoring; Reflection audio 5-20 telephone tutoring; audio- Discussion, Reflection computer 5-100 E-mail, desktop teaching Conceptualisation, computer-conferencing, construction, dialogue audiographics, CSCW, Internet tools television 30+ interactive television (TV out, Conceptualisation, 5-30 (video telephone in); video- Discussion conference) conferencing
Tables 2 and 3 summarises the nature of support for learning offered by different technologies. It illustrates that it is more difficult to support learners in two-way communications than it is in one way. However the difficulties and costs of production and delivery of information in the one-way settings is much higher than in the two way. It is necessary to remember that two-way communication yields more effective learning, where as one-way may be more efficient for the organisation. This is particularly the case if the organisation is already set up to produce materials in this manner, with appropriate equipment and staff. Production costs are high and support costs are low. In traditional universities production costs are kept low and support costs are high. Distance Universities are set up to develop course material on a one-way basis. They have a production cycle of 2 years! A luxury not afforded more traditional universities. It would be more difficult for traditional universities to convert to producing books, multimedia, video tapes than it would be to convert to computer conferencing, using the Internet or video conferencing. For a more detailed discussion of the relationship of technology to the learning model see Mayes et al 1994.
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