The educational benefits of television, a thesis paper about TV.
Benefits of TV
It is impossible for any late night TV viewer to miss the infomercials for the numerous DVDs and television programs that aim to make their child a genius. Although these claims may or may not be true, television does have proven benefits. Television can help educate the general public through entertaining programs, it may boost the intelligence development of children, and is helping to make superior education available to everyone regardless of where they are in the world.
The first type of educational TV that most people think of most likely comes from channels such as the Discovery Channel or the History Channel. These channels generally are aimed towards adults, and are educational while still being entertaining. However, there are more types of education television than just this. There is educational television for children to help them learn the basics of the alphabet, and increase a child’s willingness to read, such as “Between the Lions,” “Blues Clues,” and “Little Einsteins.” (Manzo 10-16) There are experts in the industry, such as Milton Chen, who has worked in cooperation with the Public Broadcasting Service and the U.S. Department of Education with educational television, who say, “Specific television programs and experiences can very much support literacy.” (Manzo 4)
Another new trend is career specific channels. These channels focus on a very niche audience. The Aged Care Channel from Australia is one such channel. This channel shows programs that can both be supplemental and offer general advice to keep caregivers up to date, or it can be used to teach courses. (Nazarko 5-7) It is a new technology that uses a “360 degrees” approach, allowing caregivers to download workbooks and resources from the internet, which coincide with the show. (Nazarko 8) It also allows the instructor to demonstrate procedures and illustrate with graphics to clarify points. (Nazarko 9)
This type of television course work is also being expanded to help educate students in remote areas that otherwise would not have access to higher quality education. Discovery Channel has set up the Discovery Channel Education Partnership (DCGEO), which is an organization that helps spread education around the world to remote classrooms using the medium of television. (Discovery 3) In thirteen years, DCGEP has helped educate over 700,000 children in non-developed portions of the globe. (Discovery 5) These are students that otherwise would not have had access to education any near the standard needed to compete in the current global situation.
All the innovations that apply to niche television channels such as the Aged Care Channel apply to the classroom television, as well as new technological advances. Satellites help direct the signals to otherwise unreachable locations. (Education Television 30) Teleconferencing from these remote locations is also now possible, (Education Television 30) these teleconferences make it possible for interactions between the students and instructors. This allow students to ask questions and gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter. As the interaction between student and content continues to grow, educational television begins to become more individualized and more beneficial for society.
There are also studies that support the fact that television may boost intellectual development. There has been a study by Dr. Aletha C. Huston of the University of Texas in Austin that shows that “Preschool children who watched a few hours a week of educational programming perform better on achievement tests over time than their peers who watch more general entertainment shows.” (Educational TV 1) The study showed what most assume, that the children who spent too much time watching entertainment programing had lower scores on academic tests. (Educational TV 4) However, there is surprising results showing that children who started early (ages 2-3) watching educational programs scored higher on these same tests. (Educational TV 3) The argument that Dr. Huston and her colleagues make to parents is to “Use television intelligently.” (Educational TV 5)
This is not the only study conducted on how to ensure that children receive quality television programs. Sesame Street is the most successful children educational show, and at times one of the most controversial. (Anderson 25) In his article “Educational Television is not an Oxymoron,” Professor Daniel Anderson of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, argues that Sesame Street keeps children’s minds active, and does not hypnotize them such as critics of the argued (Anderson 27), nor does it shorten a child’s attention span or increase the likelihood of ADD or ADHD. (Anderson 29-32)
Television can be utilized as a great educational tool. Though not everythingabout the effect of television is understood in general, or specifically about its effects on young children, educational television seems to be appropriate in moderation, especially to help reinforce class work. Television also is a great tool in educating older teenagers and adults. In remote villages or a nursing home in Australia, it helps spread education to willing students. Television must be employed intelligently. If we consciously make decisions to use television responsibly, then great things can be accomplished.
Anderson, Daniel R.. "Educational Television is not an Oxymoron." Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, Vol. 557, Children and Television. Chicago: Sage Publications, Inc., 1998. 24-38. Print.
“Discovery: its impact: the Discovery Channel Global Education Partnership delivers educational resources to disadvantaged children.” MEDIAWEEK 20.14 (2010): D18. General OneFile. Web. 9 October 2010.
“Educational Television.” The Museum of Broadcast Communications. Web. 3 October 2010. http://www.museum.tv/eotvsection.php?entrycode=educationalt
“Educational TV may boost Intellectual development.” Medialit. Web. 3 October 2010. http://www.medialit.org/reading-room/educational-tv-may-boost-intellectual-development
Manzo, Kathleen Kennedy. “Studies support benefits of educational TV for reading.” EducationWeek. Web. 3 October 2010. http://www.education.com/reference/article/studies- support-benefits-educational-tv/
Nazarka, Linda. “The aged care channel.” Nursing Older People 21.7 (2009):14. General OneFile. Web. 9 October 2010.
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