THE UNIVERSITY OF HULL

mennta.hi.is

THE UNIVERSITY OF HULL

THE UNIVERSITY OF HULL

Technology in Education.

Media, Social Factors and the Future of Learning.

Being a Dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of

the requirements for the Degree of M.A.

in the University of Hull

by

Sólrún Björg Kristinsdóttir

July 2000

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Contents

Introduction 1

1. An Overview of Educational Theories 3

a) General Principles of Educational Technology 3

b) Behavioral Theories. Passive models of Learning 4

c) Constructivism. Active models of learning 6

i. Jean Piaget (1896 – 1980) 7

ii. Lev Vygotsky (1896 – 1934) 9

2. Instructional Media 13

a) Interaction of Media and Cognition 13

b) Developments of the Tools of Instructions 16

c) Media and Instruction 18

d) Distance Learning 21

3. Mass media 25

a) Features of Media 27

b) Newspapers 27

c) Films 28

d) Radio and Television, the Broadcast Media 29

e) Recorded Music 30

f) The Internet 32

4. Social Factors of Learning 34

a) Visualization, Media and Perception 34

b) Television 35

c) Audiences 39

d) Control 40

e) Social Aspects of Learning 40

5. Future 45

a) Future Role of Education 45

b) Teacher’s Role 45

c) Lifelong Education and Cultivation of Knowledge 48

d) Computer Technology and Future Perspective 52

6. Summary and Conclusions 56

7. References 61

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Introduction

Who has not heard the assumption that technology is creating a revolution in

education In order to develop a view on this matter it is helpful to consider how

technology has affected our society in resent years. In barely 20 years, electronic

technology has dramatically penetrated into every area of society, and every aspect of

our social and cultural lives. Television was the initiator. Broadcast images

inaugurated a new, immediate, and powerful way of experiencing ideas and events.

Television rediscovered and recast the world as a direct experience and made it

possible for events a world away to appear in the sitting room of the receivers.

Computers made vast amounts of information, from airline reservations to the

contents of encyclopaedias, instantly available and modifiable with a keystroke.

Writing has become a matter of screens and printers and text is permanently flexible,

always ready to be immediately changed.

These technological changes have affected very much the way children today

comprehend their environment compared with children 20 years ago. Today children

grow up with remote controls and spend more time watching television and videos

than reading. Toys are now filled with buttons and blinking lights, interacting with

them, talking and listening to them the way the stuffed animals and hobbyhorses of

the past did not. Computer-based information kiosks have become a common feature

of shopping centres, museums and other public places. Children today are brought up

with instant access to knowledge, a world where vivid images embody and

supplement information formerly presented solely through text. They are used to an

environment where they control information flow and access, whether through a video

game controller, remote control, mouse, or touch-tone phone.

Although the schools are embedded in our culture and reflect its values, the

technological changes that have swept through society at large have left the

educational system largely unchanged. In the past two or three decades the gap

between the process of teaching and learning and how children obtain information in

society has widened substantially. Curriculum and teaching methods are often very

much the same as 100 years ago. In the classroom, knowledge is presented in a

linear, didactic manner that differs in many ways from children’s experience outside

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the school. In contrast with the vivid images and self-directed flow of the interactive

home and society, schools tend to be rigid and conservative.

This breach between schools and society may well be a product of the structure and

practices of our educational system. Many methods of didactic education assume a

separation between knowing and doing, treating knowledge as an integral, selfsufficient

substance, theoretically independent of the situations in which it is learned

and used. Recent investigations of learning, however, challenge this separating of

what is learned from how it is learned and used (Brown et al., 1989).

Activity, in which knowledge is developed and deployed, is not separable from or

supplementary to learning and cognition. Nor is it neutral. Rather it is an integral

part of what is learned. Situations are said to co-produce knowledge through activity.

Learning and cognition are fundamentally situated. Given the environment that

children in Western society are brought up in today it is interesting to look at the

factors in our society that are the most influential in shaping us/our children’ ideas

and nature. What kind of theories do the schools use How is learning and teaching

conducted How influential are the mass media Will the revolution in technology

and telecommunication change the way in which learning and teaching will be

directed

As an attempt to answer these questions I will start with an overview of the principles

of the behavioural theories and then take a more thorough look into cognitive theories,

the work of J. Piaget and the socio-cultural theories of Vygotsky. The cognitive

theories provide the rationale for the approach taken in this dissertation and the

analysis of media driven culture today.

The consideration of the media will be the next task followed by a chapter of social

facts of learning concluding with future perspectives in learning and education.

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1. An overview of Educational Theories

a) General Principles of Educational Technology

The philosophical or theoretical view that is most often shared by the scientists of a

given period is referred to as its “Zeitgeist” a German word meaning “the spirit of the

times.” In the early days of a science, the zeitgeist can change dramatically from one

time to the next. Major change in thinking concerning one of the most basic issues of

human development had already appeared several times in the centuries before the

science of developmental psychology emerged in the mid 1800s.

In the mid 19 th century Charles Darwin, the British biologist, presented his theory of

evolution. With his theory he offered the likelihood that many human behaviours had

their source in the past and as the 20 th century dawned, the theories of biological

definitions of development swung back to the environmental site or objectivism

(Vasta, et al., 1995). The philosophy of objectivism is that the world is completely

and correctly structured in terms of entities, properties and relations. Experience

plays no role in structuring the world and meaning is something that exists

independently from experience. Therefore, the goal of understanding is to know the

entities, attributes and relations that exist. The objectivist view acknowledges that

people have different understandings based on differing experiences. Because of

prior experience it is unlikely that two people have identical understanding.

Nevertheless, the impact of prior experience and human interpretation is seen as

leading to partial understandings and biased understandings. An objectivist view of

instructions will call for an active learner, but the purpose of that activity is to cause

the student to pay closer attention to the stimulus events, to practise and demonstrate

mastery of knowledge (Duffy and Jonassen, 1991). In the light of this environmental

understanding a new approach objectivism or behaviourism was recognised. From the

behavioural point of view, learning is viewed as the ability to perform new behaviour,

which is defined in terms of goals by the researcher or in applied situations, the

teacher. There is an effort made to create conditions that will enable the learner to

demonstrate these behaviours and continue to perform them over a period of time.

One creates these changes in behaviour by manipulating the environmental

conditions. Attention is given to these environmental changes both before and after a

response from the learner.

The principles of programmed learning based on the behavioural approach, require

active responses of the learner but these responses apply only to the specific model of

the program, and do not take into account the construction of knowledge and the

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situation of learning therefore the learner is seen as an passive receiver of instruction

(Duffy and Jonassen, 1991).

During the 1960s, discontent with the inadequacies of behaviourism another school of

thought was developing involving cognitive aspects leading to the constructivist

approach. Constructivism provides a different approach to the objectivist tradition.

They agree that there is a real world that is experienced, but the learner imposes

meaning on the world. There are many ways to structure the world and there are

many meanings or perspectives for any event or concept. Consequently, there is no

correct meaning of the world (Duffy and Jonassen, 1991). Meaning is seen as rooted

in and manifested by experience. Each experience with an idea and in the

environment of which that idea is a part of will be the meaning of that idea. That

experience must be examined to understand if learning has taken place. The cognitive

approach sees the learner as an active learner constructing knowledge in different

situations as well as receiving information on a given subject (Clark and Sugrue,

1995). The socio-cultural theories, based on the constructive thought, explain how

learning is situated and how individuals are actively constructing knowledge.

b) Behavioural Theories. Passive models of learning.

From the behavioural point of view, learning is viewed as the ability to perform new

behaviours that are defined as goals by the researcher or in applied situations, the

teacher. An effort is made to create conditions that will enable the learner to

demonstrate these behaviours and continue to perform them over a period of time.

One creates these changes in behaviour by manipulating the environmental variables.

Attention is given to these environmental changes both before and after a response

from the learner. The learner is seen as a passive receiver of information where the

variable is the key factor in changing the condition of the learner.

Ideas in behavioural psychology stem from research done in the 19 th century. Most of

the early research was done on animals though the theories were applied to a wide

range of human behaviours including both classroom and therapy situations.

Amongst those who laid the basis for the development of behavioural theories at the

beginning of the century were Thorndike, Pavlov and Watson. The theories of

example Skinner, Gagné and Bloom are amongst those, which developed further the

principles of the behaviourist theories.

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The reliance upon specific goal statements is a device, which also allows the learners

to know specifically when they have achieved their goal. By using such a statement

students can monitor their own progress. Therefore the statements of goals and

objectives can also serve as reinforcement.

Table 1 gives an overview of the foundations of the behavioural approach.

Table 1. An overview of behavioural theorists

Name Key ideas Related ideas

Edward Lee Thorndike

(1874-1949)

Connectionism:

One learns by selecting a response and

receiving reinforcement if right or wrong

Law of Effect

Law of Readiness

Law of Exercise

Ivan Petrovich Pavlov

(1849-1936)

Stimulus-response:

Unconditioned stimulus (food) makes

unconditioned response (salivation) become

conditioned if paired often enough with

conditioned stimulus (bell, light)

Four aspects, based on

classical conditioning

experiments:

1. Reinforcement

2. Extinction

3. Inhabitation

4. Generalization

John B. Watson (1878-

1958)

Stimulus can be predicted, given the

response; given the stimulus, the response

can be predicted

Evaluation of learning is

determined by pre-organized

goals.

B. F. Skinner (1904-1990) Shaping technique with stimulus-response

model

Learning has occurred when a

specific response is elicited by

specific situation or stimulus

with a high degree of

probability. The more likely

the response, the more

efficient the learning has been

(Romiszowski, 1997)

Robert M. Gagné (1916-)

Learning in 9 sequential events:

1. Gaining attention

2. Telling the learner the learning

objective

3. Stimulating recall of prior learning

4. Presenting the stimulus

5. Providing learning guidance

6. Eliciting performance

7. Providing feedback

8. Assessing performance

9. Enhancing retention

Five categories of learning:

1. Intellectual skills

2. Cognitive strategies

3. Verbal information

4. Motor Skills

5. Attitudes

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Benjamin Bloom (1914-)

Learning for mastery. Majority of students

can master the curriculum given the time

and instruction they need. Sequential steps

are made where the student master each step

to continue to a set goal.

Taxonomy of Cognitive

Objectives:

Knowledge

Comprehension

Application

Analysis

Synthesis

Evaluation

http://curriculum.calstatela.edu/faculty/psparks/theorists/501learn.htm

The implication of behavioural approaches for instructional design is that instruction

is planned to identify the desired target behaviour and then elicit the desired student

response. In the classroom the teacher controls the experiences that the students are

exposed to in a series of sequential steps. Correct answers are rewarded so the student

eventually learns the target skill of knowledge.

c) Constructivism. Active models of learning

During the 1960s, another school of thought started developing besides the

behavioural thinking group. The behaviourist perspective cannot easily explain why

people attempt to organize and make sense of the information they learn. One

example includes remembering general meanings rather than word for word

information. Among learning psychologists there emerged a growing realization that

mental events or cognition could no longer be ignored.

Cognitive psychologists share with behaviourists the belief that the study of learning

should be objective and that learning theories should be developed from the results of

empirical research. However, cognitivists disagree with the behaviourists in one

critical aspect. By observing the responses that individuals make to different stimulus

conditions, cognitivists believe that they can draw inferences about the nature of the

internal cognitive processes that produce those responses.

David Merrill gives an overview of the assumptions of constructivism regarding

instructional design (Merrill, 1991):

• Learning Constructed. Knowledge is constructed from experience. Learning

is a constructive practice in which the learner is building an internal

representation of knowledge.

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• Interpretation Personal. There is no shared reality; learning is a personal

interpretation of the world. Learning results from a personal interpretation of

experience.

• Learning Active. Learning is an active process in which meaning is developed

on basis of experience.

• Learning Collaborative. Meaning is deal with from multiple perspectives.

Conceptual growth comes from the sharing of multiple perspectives and the

simultaneous changing of our internal representations in response to those

perspectives. The role of education is to promote collaboration with others to

show the multiple perspectives that can be brought to bear on particular

problem and to arrive at self-chosen positions to which they can commit

themselves.

• Learning Situated. Learning should occur in realistic settings (situated or

anchored). Learning must be situated in a rich context, reflective of real world

context.

• Testing Integrated. Testing should be integrated with the task not a separate

activity. The measure of learning is how instrumental the learner’s knowledge

structure is in facilitating thinking in the content field.

Many ideas and theories of constructivism can be traced back to the early decades of

the twentieth century. Of all theories, the theories of Jean Piaget of Switzerland are

the ones that have provided psychology with very elaborated account of

developmental changes in cognitive abilities.

i. Jean Piaget (1896 – 1980)

According to his theory, human development can be outlined in terms of functions

and cognitive structures. The functions are inborn biological processes that are

identical for every one and stay unchanged throughout our lives. The purpose of

these functions is to construct internal cognitive structures. The structures change as

the child grows (Vasta et al., 1995).

Piaget emphasizes two main functions; one is organization (or equilibrium).

Organization refers to the fact that all cognitive structures are interrelated and that any

new knowledge must be fitted into the existing system. It is the need to integrate the

new information, rather than adding it on, that forces our cognitive structure to

become more elaborate.

The second general function is adaptation. Adaptation refers to the tendency of the

organism to fit into its environment in ways that promote survival. It is composed of

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two terms; assimilation and accommodation. Assimilation is the tendency to

understand new experience in terms of existing knowledge. Whenever we come

across something new, we try to make sense of it, and build upon our existing

cognitive structures. Accommodation occurs when the new information is too

complex to be integrated into the existing structure - this means that, cognitive

structures change in response to new experiences (Spencer, 1991, p. 175).

The educational interest of Piaget´s work lies firstly in the way he made educationists

aware of the child’s thought processes and the conditions under which intellectual

structures are established at different ages. There are four principles that are most

often cited in Piaget´s theory with regard to education. The first is the important of

readiness. This principle follows from his emphasis on assimilation. Experience,

educational or otherwise, does not simply happen to a child; rather it must always be

assimilated to current cognitive structure. A new experience can only be of any value

if the child can make sense of it. Teaching that is far from the child’s level is unlikely

to be useful.

The second principle concerns the motivation for cognitive activity. Educational

content that is either too advanced or too simple is unlikely to be interesting. The

educational subject has to be slightly beyond the current level of the child so that it

provides experience familiar enough to assimilate however challenging enough to

provoke disequilibria.

The third is the awareness of what level the child has reached and the information of

what it can be expected at that level and what not. Piaget´s studies often identify steps

and sequences through which particular content domains are mastered. It is therefore

possible not only to determine where the child is but also to know the natural next

steps for development.

The final principle is more functional. It concerns Piaget´s emphasis on intelligence

as an action. In his view education should be built on the child’s natural curiosity and

natural tendency to act on the world in order to understand it. Knowledge is most

meaningful when children construct it themselves rather than having it imposed upon

them (Vasta et al., 1995).

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In acquiring new knowledge through action two different kinds of knowledge

develop, the physical experience and the logico-mathematical experience. Physical

experience produces knowledge of the properties of the objects acted upon. Logicomathematical

experience result in knowledge, not of the objects, but of the actions

themselves and their results (Donaldson, 1987).

The aim of education, according to Piaget, is to make individuals who are critical,

creative and inventive discoverers. So a major part of the child’s learning relies on

active experimentation and discovery. The active classroom has been associated with

the term progressive teaching, where pupils are in an active role, learning

predominantly by discovery techniques, with an emphasis on creative expression.

Subject matter tends to be integrated, with the teacher acting as a guide to educational

experiences and encouraging cooperative work. External rewards and punishments

are seen as being unimportant, and there is not much concern with traditional

academic standards and testing (Spencer, 1994).

As a biologist Piaget tended to look at development more from the physical change

and the readiness for each stage to develop any further. Another perspective in the

cognitive movement was from those who saw the connection between the

environment and the child development in a constructive way, and Vygotsky´s sociocultural

theories represent those views.

ii. Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934)

Vygotsky was born in Russia in the same year as Piaget. Vygotsky was not trained in

science but received a law degree from the Moscow University. He went on to study

literature and linguistics and obtained his Ph.D. for a book he wrote on the

psychology of art (Vasta et al., 1995).

To understand Vygotsky´s theory, it is important to look at the political environment

of that time. Vygotsky began his work in psychology shortly after the Russian

revolution, when Marxism replaced the rule of the czar. The new philosophy of the

Marxist emphasized socialism and collectivism. Individuals were expected to

sacrifice their personal goals and achievements for the improvement of the larger

society. Sharing and co-operation was encouraged, and the success of any individual

was seen as reflecting the success of the culture. Marxists also placed a heavy

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emphasis on history, believing that any culture could be understood only through

examination of the ideas and events that had shaped it (Vasta et al, 1995).

Vygotsky incorporates these elements in his model of human development that has

been termed a sociocultural approach. For him, the individual’s development is a

result of his or her culture. Development, in Vygotsky’s theory, applies mainly to

mental development, such as thought, language and reasoning processes. These

abilities are understood to develop through social interactions with others (especially

parents) and therefore represent the shared knowledge of the culture.

Vygotsky states:

Every function in the child’s cultural development appears twice: first,

between people (interpsychological) and then inside the child

(intrapsychological). This applies equally to voluntary attention, to logical

memory, and to the formation of ideas. All the higher functions originate as

actual relationships between individuals (Vygotsky, 1978, p. 57).

Mental abilities and processes similarly were viewed in terms of the historical

sequence of events that produced them. Whereas Piaget believed that all children’s

cognitive processes follow a very similar pattern of stages, Vygotsky saw intellectual

abilities as being much more specific to the culture in which the child was reared

(Vasta et al., 1995). Culture makes two sorts of contributions to the child’s

intellectual development. First, children acquire much of their thinking (knowledge)

from it. Second, children acquire the processes or means of their thinking (tools of

intellectual adaptation) from the surrounding culture. Therefore, culture provides the

children with the tools to develop what to think and how to think.

Vygotsky viewed cognitive development as a result of a dialectical process, where the

child learns through shared problem solving experiences with someone else, such as

parents, a teacher, siblings or a peer. Originally, the person interacting with the child

undertakes most of the responsibility for guiding the problem solving, but gradually

this responsibility transfers to the child. Although these interactions can take many

forms, Vygotsky stresses language dialogue. It is primarily through their speech that

adults are assumed to transmit to children the rich body of knowledge that exists in

their culture. As learning proceeds, the child’s own language comes to help as his or

her primary tool of intellectual transformation. Children can eventually use their own

internal speech to direct their own behaviour in much the same way that their parents’

speech once directed it. This transition reflects Vygotsky’s theme of development as

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a process of internalization. Bodies of knowledge and tools of thought at first exist

outside the child, in the culture of the environment. Development consists of gradual

internalization, primarily through language, to form cultural adaptation (Rogoff,

1990).

The second aspect of Vygotsky’s theory is the idea that the potential for cognitive

development is limited to a certain time span. He calls this the Zone of Proximal

Development (ZPD) which refers to the gap between what a given child can achieve

alone, its potential development as determined by independent problem solving, and

what they can achieve through problem solving under adult guidance or in

collaboration with more capable peers (Wood and Wood, 1966).

Vygotsky refers to what children can do on their own as the level of actual

development. In his view, it is the level of actual development that a standard IQ test

measures. Such a measure is undoubtedly important, but it is also incomplete. Two

children might have the same level of actual development, in the sense of being able

to solve the same number of problems on some standardized test. Given appropriate

help from an adult, one child might be able to solve an additional dozen problems

while the other child might be able to solve only two or three more. What the child

can do with help is referred to as the level of potential development (Vasta et al.,

1995).

Full development during the ZPD depends upon full social interaction and the more

the child takes advantage of an adult’s assistance, the broader is its “Zone of Proximal

Development”. If adults wish to provide learning opportunities, they must evaluate

the child’s present developmental level and estimate the length of the ZDP. But, the

child must be able to make use of the help of others; it needs the competence to

benefit from give-and-take activities and conversations with others (Bruner, 1983).

Vygotsky acknowledged the maturational limits of the ZPD, but most psychological

research has emphasized the role of the environment: parents and other adults who are

expert models and guides for a young learner.

The socio-cultural aspects in Vygotsky’s theories are interesting when analyzing the

learner in the information age society. How do we educate the child raised in a world

of instant information, where interactive technologies have led them to believe they

can act on the world with the press of a button

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In this section I have given examples of learning models derived from different basic

philosophies. The fundamental challenge of constructivism is in its changing the

locus of control over learning from the teacher to the student. Educators with

foundations in behavioural psychology have sought to design programmes in such a

way that students would be enticed to achieve prespecified objectives whereas those

building on constructive models of learning look at students actually formulating their

knowledge with regarding to the environment and culture around them. The most

obvious factor in shaping our culture is the media. People spend more time in

absorbing information from the media than any other activity. Progress in media

development is rapid and society is modified along with it.

In his book “The Medium is the Massage” Marshall McLuhan starts with the

observation:

“The medium, or process, of our time-electric technology- is reshaping and

restructuring patterns of social interdependence and every aspect of our

personal life. It is forcing us to reconsider and revaluate practically every

thought, every action, and every institution formerly taken for granted.

Everything is changing – you, your family, your neighborhood, your

education, your job, your government, your relation to “the others.” And

they’re changing dramatically” (p. 8).

With this in mind the next chapter will be about the media.

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2. Instructional Media

Media consumption is embedded in the routines, rituals, and institutions, both public

and domestic, of everyday life. Here the term media includes printed material,

broadcast media both audio and video, and computers. Among the questions to be

answered are whether media interact with cognition and whether people are passive or

active receivers of the message. An historical overview of how media and the

audiovisual movements developed as powerful tools in education is given. Mass

media will be analyzed to with respect to what they are and who controls them. We

begin with a study of the interaction of media and cognition.

a) Interaction of Media and Cognition

Romiszowski (1988, p. 8) defines media as: “the carriers of message, from some

transmitting source [which may be human being or an inanimate object] to receiver of

the message [which in our case is the learner] ”. Quite often the messages are

received by a combination of senses to provide the desired communication. They can

be quite complex and may involve carefully designed information with the purpose of

communicating the exact meaning intended by its author.

The study of media in education implicitly assumes that each medium entails some

particular attributes that affect learning, depending on the symbol system it involves

(Salomon, 1981). Media are our cultural device for selecting, gathering, storing, and

passing knowledge on in representational forms. Representation, as differentiated

from direct experience, is always coded within a symbol system. If one attempted to

remove picture from film, cartography from maps, or language from texts, what

would be left Media without symbol systems are as unlikely as mathematics without

numbers. According to the cognitive theories of learning all cognition and learning

are based on internal symbolic representation. If symbol systems are central to media

of communication and to thinking, then the interactions and interdependence between

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the two systems cannot be disregarded. For example, it is possible that symbolically

different presentations of information differ as to the mental skills of processing that

they require. It is also likely that the major symbol systems of the media develop

mental skills differentially and that one learns to use media’s symbolic forms for

purposes of internal representation (Salomon, 1981).

Bruner (1964, p.1) considers

“…that the development of human intellectual functioning from infancy to

such a perfection as it may reach is shaped by a series of technological

advances in the use of the mind. Growths depend upon the mastery of

techniques and cannot be understood without reference to such mastery.

These techniques are not, in the main, invention of the individuals who are

“growing up”; they are rather skills transmitted with varying efficiency and

success by the culture language being a prime example. Cognitive growth,

then, is in a major way from the outside in as well as from the inside out.”

The psychological effects of media and how people learn from media are of concern

to educationalists. The way one recodes a verbal description into an internal spatial

representation is likely to differ from the way one recodes a drawing or a picture into

internal propositions. Psychological and neuropsychological evidence tends to

support this contention (Salomon, 1981).

It is difficult to ignore the possible role symbol systems play in the cultivation of

mental skills not just as carriers of information about skills or as carriers of skillmodels,

bur rather as the mental-skills-to-be. As Bruner argues internal representation

of the environment depends on learning (Bruner, 1964, p.2), “precisely the

techniques that serve to amplify our acts, perceptions, and our ratiocinative activities”.

Media, to which we all are heavily exposed, must certainly be included among these

techniques. Our era, the twenty-first century, can be characterized as the age of media

and technology. As channels for information and entertainment, mass media surround

us day and night. Vygotsky’s theories of social interactionism inform us that learning

takes place through engagement with contextualised and situationalised socio-cultural

environments and through contact with a culture of material and social resources that

everywhere supports cognitive activity (Crook, 1994).

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Gavriel Salomon has summarized the symbol systems of media effects and the

acquisition of knowledge, in his book Interaction of Media Cognition and Learning

(1981) as follows:

1. Symbol systems highlight different aspects of content.

2. Symbol systems vary with respect to ease of recording.

3. Specific coding elements can save the learner from difficult mental

elaborations by overtly supplanting or short-circuiting specific elaboration.

4. Symbol systems differ with respect to how much processing they demand or

allow.

5. Symbol systems differ with respect to the kinds of mental processes they call

on for recoding and elaboration.

Therefore, according to Salomon, the symbol system partly determines who will

acquire what knowledge from what kinds of message (Salomon, 1981). The

differential effects of media’s symbol systems on the gaining of knowledge are

connected to the effects on the mastery of cognitive skills. The use of skills in the

service of knowledge achievement allows their gradual development leading to the

gaining of more and different kinds of knowledge. Three factors can be identified as

the focal points leading to these developments (Salomon, 1981, p. 238):

1. Environmental factors: Media’s symbol system, the information they carry,

and the learning task one is to perform.

2. Personological factors: The learner’s capabilities, mental schemata, and

information preferences.

3. Behavioural factors: The specific actions or behaviours one carries out while

handling coded information.

Agreeing with the assimilation/accommodation model of Piaget, Salomon agree to

that psychologically, people seek out resemblances in dense, nonnotational symbol

systems, even when such perceived resemblances are erroneous. Objects in one’s

environment, whether real or represented in some symbolic form, are recoded and

elaborated in terms of one’s schemata. New information yields a conception or forms

of internal representation, which change to some degree one’s schemata, which is then

expressed in other recoding and elaboration activities, and results in an altered

perception of the object. When a later encounter with a symbolic representation of

the object is easily recoded and requires little change of schemata, the person judges

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the representation as resembling the object, although in effect it resembles the stored

image in his schemata. Judgement of resemblance determines, in turn, the application

of, say, a pictorial standard of recoding by the person (Salomon, 1981).

The symbolic system of media can be mentally demanding and the effects of media’s

content are determined by what the viewer brings with him when encountering the

media. Therefore it is relevant to look at the viewer not as a passive audience but as

an active participant in comprehending the message of the medium.

The use of media as a tool to mediate messages to the masses for an educational

purpose does not have a long history. In the next section an overview of that will be

given.

b) Developments of the Tools of Instruction

The audiovisual movement developed early in the 20 th century, focusing on machines

and materials rather than the learner. This thought was concerned with the effects of

devices and procedures, which were seen as acting as a remedy to the extreme

verbalism of traditional methods (Spencer, 1991). The rapid development in this

subject came during and after World War II, in the 1940s. The military workforce

had to be trained for their own survival and the war effort. To meet this need,

thousands of training films and other mediated learning materials were distributed,

and 16mm projectors and filmstrip projectors were purchased and circulated. Still

photographs, audio recordings, transparencies and slides were used for instructional

purposes.

Many of the individuals hired by the military to work on the wartime training were

well-established researchers and the military training became an example of what a

well-funded research and development effort, directed toward education, could

accomplish (Romiszowski, 1997).

In the 1960s the field for instructional development grew very fast, with a base in

behavioural approaches. What characterized this period was the articulation of the

components of instructional systems or the system approach. The leaders of the

educational profession who had thought of themselves primarily as media specialists

began to lobby actively to broaden the field of audio-visual (AV) instruction to

embrace the larger concept of instructional development and technology. From this

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school of thought Skinner’s linear teaching machine was derived and Postlethwaite

devised the Audio Tutorial system (Romiszowski, 1997).

Developments in mass media were quite rapid at this time and the development of

television was to have a major effect on how western households conducted their

daily life. There were great expectations for TV as an educational medium and after

the emerge of video, in the 1970s, the potential was realized. The influence of

cognitive psychology on the refinement of instructional design was notable at this

time (Sharon, 1995).

The advent of microcomputers in the 1980s and developments in computerized

education in the 1990s, concern educationalists today. Interactive video, CD-ROM,

and other storage systems with instructional programs are becoming more

sophisticated with adaptations to the idiosyncrasies of individual learners.

Seigel and Davis (1986) talk about the three waves of the technology and related

know-how. The first wave was associated with the new technology itself in the

design and programming of computers and applications. Only a small proportion of

the population was involved and they required highly technical, job-specific training

in the science of computing and programming. The advent of the cheap

microcomputer and its use by a much greater section of the population characterised

the second wave. The development of a movement in education towards computer

literacy for everyone grew. Finally, the third wave is characterised by the access of

all sectors of social and professional activity to computer systems. This wave brings

with it the need for a range of new skills and attitudes, which will enable us to use

these tools and systems efficiently, without necessarily being expert in the skills of

programming, or having any specialist knowledge of computer science. In this third

wave people are using computers as they use cars or television sets or telephones

Technologies in communication and delivery systems have changed the way

education can be performed. Satellite television, developments in communication and

the Internet have transformed the means of how education can be conducted. The

evolution of the Internet started in the late 70s with a research project in the U.S.

Department of Defence to find a way to make computer networks more reliable.

Linking government and university laboratories soon developed into an efficient

means of exchanging information, an unanticipated bonus (Hackbarth, 1996). The

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World Wide Web evolved from these developments of computer networking to be the

main source of information and communication, at least in the industrialized world.

When the earlier technology (films, television, overhead projectors) was seen to

support the teaching and learning status quo computer technology is associated with

economics, employment prospects based on skills needed for new era (Kerr, 1996).

c) Media and Instruction

As the term instruction is defined it requires a two-way communication process. Most

media are one-way transmitters and therefore are not capable of receiving, store or

interpreting any message that the learner may transmit. These presentation media

have been the main support for teachers, until now with the developments in the

computer technology. In typical face-to-face teaching situations the teacher is the

receiver, storer and interpreter of anything the student may say or do and the media

are used to enhance or enrich the teacher’s presentation. With the developments in

telecommunications and the computer technology the role of the media can be both

the transmitter and receiver and storer of the instructions. The changes, from pure

chalkboard methods to the use of audiocassette, radio, television and video, have

taken place, but with the World Wide Wed the way information can be enhanced

make these changes even more revolutionary. With a push of a button information

can be sought for and reached from around the world.

We have already learned from the theories stemming from the behavioural, objective,

stimulus-response models and the cognitive, constructive, cultural reproduction

models that interaction plays an important role in learning and developing.

Interaction implies a dialogue between two parties. According to Steuer (1992, p.

84), “interactivity is the extent to which a user can participate in modifying the form

and content of mediated environment in real time”.

Various elaborations of basic computer models introduce the potential for more

interactivity and adaptation in computer education. By incorporating simulation, a

computer package enables students to examine how process change when parameters

are varied: unlike simulations on video, individual students can choose which

parameters to change and by how much (Koumi, 1994). Computer based simulations

create a powerful artificial environment with which the learner can interact to

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discover principles and develop methods for solving problems in a much more

effective way than a tutor could ever give through dialogue alone.

Romiszowski lists the benefits of simulations and games, in his book The selection

and use of Instructional Media (Romiszowski, 1997, p. 265-266):

1. They can provide the student with experiences and practice, which are

much closer to real-life situations he will encounter than might otherwise

be possible in training course. In particular they can reproduce the

pressures and stresses under which students will have to work.

2. They can therefore be useful as methods of measuring how well students

are able to apply previously learnt facts, concepts, or principles to real-life

situation.

3. They allow one to simplify reality, controlling which aspects of a real-life

situation a student should attend and respond to.

4. They are often economically justified as a substitute for on-the-job practice

when it would be difficult to arrange this, e.g. expensive, easily broken

equipment (medical simulation), remote situations (space-travel simulators

or school geography games), equipment used for production day and night

(industrial process simulators), etc.

5. They are often justified on safety grounds, in that they enable students to

practice dangerous or threatening jobs without any danger (pilot-training

simulators, simulations of highly-stressed personal situations such as

dealing with discipline problems in the classrooms, war games, etc.)

6. A well designed simulation or game is generally found to involve students

in the learning task more than other available techniques, both intellectually

and emotionally.

7. As a result of 6 (and also of 3) they have been found to be an extremely

effective way of measuring, changing and reinforcing student attitudes.

8. Finally, simulation can of course be used as a research technique. The

model being used in the simulation should reflect reality. If we understand

the real- life phenomenon under study sufficiently, we should be able to

construct a valid model. If, however, we do not fully understand the real

problem, we construct a ‘tentative’ model- a model which reflects our

hypotheses about the problem. We then operate the model and observe the

effects, comparing them with the effects we obtain in reality. Any

discrepancies are analysed and the model is redesigned, and our hypotheses

changed, if necessary. The study of complex systems such as political

systems, nervous systems, sophisticated electronic systems (i.e. the science

of cybernetics) rely heavily on simulation as a research technique

One of the main attractions in using computers are, computer-based simulation

programs which introduce the learner to these real life situations. Computer-based

simulations are sometimes the only way of developing certain types of learning

experiences; in medical education, trainee doctors learn how patients with diabetes

react to the intake of sugar in various quantities; in science, learners may explore the

flow of fluid through nozzles, interference and diffraction patterns of light waves or

motion of satellites on orbits; and in economics, students can investigate how the

21


effects of interacting market forces, tax laws or inflation rate may combine with

surprising effects under certain conditions (Romiszowski, 1997).

The common ownership of PC computers has made it possible for children to play in

the simulation or artificial environment. Many of the computer games that are

available on the market put the user in real-life situations. Here the user confronts an

artificial environment that operates under a set of rules. His role is to act within this

environment and then observe the results. For example in “Geography Search” one

relives the voyages of early explorers crossing the Atlantic, plotting the course and

making adjustments along the way, and accounting for changes in winds and currents.

“SimEarth” provides opportunities to redesign our planet and its inhabitants and then

witness the consequences of one’s actions (Hackbarth, 1996).

Opinion about the primary role of media in learning remains divided. One view, long

ago introduced by Marshall McLuhan is that the medium is the message. When

looking at the effects of media as such it can be agreed upon that specific content

(comedy, news, weather, games, drama and terror) is less significant than changes in

human relations brought about by reading, viewing and playing. Yet the pervasive

exploitation of sex and violence across media also must have harmful effects on

society.

The opinion of Richard Clark at the University of Southern California that the media

are the mere vehicle for delivering goods is a different point of view. Therefore,

learning is affected by such variables as organization of content, match with student

characteristics and appropriate instructional strategies (Hackbarth, 1996).

The new cognitive paradigm assumes that instructional powers do not reside solely in

the media, for the way media are perceived influences what we learn from them. The

perception is founded on the kinds of information and instructional methods delivered

by different media (Clark and Sugrue, 1995).

As said before technological developments in media have had a significant impact on

the way teaching and learning can be conducted. Systematically designed programs

transmitted by printed material, radio, TV and computers provide challenging learning

experience. Along with technology these learning programs enrich instruction and

make it more individualized and accessible

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Instructions enrich through added dimensions, special effects and unique

programming. Time-lapse motion microphotography portrays actual chemical

reactions and the life cycles of minute organisms. Video technology allows the

student to observe the ongoing behaviour of the universe. Television provides

documentaries, plays and musicals. Computer simulations permit manipulating

variables and observing consequences within manageable space and time frames.

Virtual reality affords the sensation of acting within novel environments (Hackbarth,

1996).

Instruction is individualized when teachers interact with the students in the selection

of objectives, content and methods that match their abilities and interests. The

computer can help the student to diagnose their difficulties in understanding a given

problem, it can provide remedial instruction or recommendation in viewing a film,

read a section of text or consult with the teacher. Interactive multimedia and tutoring

systems and access to the Internet permit student-initiated explorations grounded in

their lived worlds and guided by their felt needs to make sense of their experiences.

With the latest technology instructions are made accessible to all. By analyzing the

learning needs of diverse students, and creating programs to meet them, technology

can help. Radio and TV transmit information via satellite to remote villages

throughout the world and by way of cable, to hospitals and homes (Hackbarth, 1996).

Special equipment helps to compensate for obstacles encountered by people with

motor and sensory disabilities. Programs are sent via distance education systems to

schools lacking enough teachers and from schools to learners in remote settings.

Computers searches speedily locate material on the Web, in databases or in libraries

worldwide (Hackbarth, 1996).

d) Distance learning

The instant exchange of information between people allows instant access to

databases and online information services, and provides multimedia technical

resources such as interactive audio and video. As indicated before the developments

in telecommunication have made it possible for learning to take place in and out of

school environment – the global classroom. Although distance learning has been

known for many years the arrival of the Internet has changed the way distance

learning can be conducted. Schools in rural areas can collaborate in other ways than

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efore. Many educational institutions are attempting to use technology to solve the

problems of growing numbers of both home-based and distance students and limited

resources of teachers and funds. When education is undertaken at a distance it is

necessary to consider how best to attain the essential elements of the process –

providing information and facilitating the negotiation of meaning through dialogue.

The large-scale open and distance institutions make use of a range of media to convey

course content to learners. Many distance-learning programmes have been developed

to achieve the potential of the communication technology to enhance distance

learning and teaching. Although written texts are usually the core teaching material

of courses they have been supplemented with broadcast television and radio

programmes, audio and videocassettes, experiment kits and computer software.

Recently there is a greater emphasis on using computer and communication

technology to convey the dialogue between the participants in the educational process.

Network-based education introduces new approaches to teaching and learning and

opens up the possibilities of computer conferencing, which enables information,

ideas, problems and strategies to be discussed and explored by course participants.

On-line working can be used for task-focussed collaboration, where this is appropriate

for the pedagogic approach adopted.

A project in Northeast Scotland recently explored how an electronic network could be

used to help able children develop their thinking skills. This project STARS

(Superhighways Team Across Rural Schools) was aimed at small rural primaries,

where able children are often not stretched to their full potential. They are alone at

the top of the class and their ideas are unquestioned and unchallenged by other

children. Because schools were so small, separating out only the able pupils, one or

two children at most taking part, would have caused social problem, so others were

included in the school groups of four or five. The objective was to teach thinking

skills through problem solving, promoting critical thinking, creative thinking and

collaborative learning. Computer-based assignments, all with a space theme, were

published on Web sites called launch pads, and some projects involved doing research

on the Internet. On some problem solving exercises the children had to come up with

a single solution on behalf of their school, working together in their own group and

reaching some agreement. To get to the best solution the children had to argue their

case and accept others’ point of view. In other cases they had to cooperate with the

other schools (Walker, 1998).

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According to Jim Ewing who ran the project the main findings were (Walker, 1998. p.

41):

“One idea was that children should listen to others and respect their

contribution. That was definitely an outcome. At first they were disappointed

when other people shot down their ideas and it took them some time before

they understood that other people’s ideas might be worth considering. They

were learning, as they might not do in a small rural school, that there were

other people around who were just as bright as, or brighter than, they were

themselves”

Other findings showed that the able children took responsibility as group leaders and

co-ordinators with other schools. Their problem solving became more systematic,

and there were distinct gains in their use of critical thinking skills. The teacher’s role

in this project was to provide the children with setting the project in motion, helping

with concepts and vocabulary, and in the end to register what they had learned.

This STARS project is taken here as an example of how the interactive-technology

can improve the quality of teaching and learning. Teachers in the schools involved

reported that the project had (Walker, 1998. p. 42). “…awakened their professional

interest in distance learning, in differentiation in teaching for different pupils, and in

teaching thinking”

Many online programs have been developed to improve the quality of distance

teaching and learning. First Class, LearningSpace, WebCT are only a few course

tools which could be mentioned. WebCT and LearningSpace learning programmes

create a virtual meeting place on the Web where the course members are able to get

the learning material in the form of text, audio or video files and the communication

tools allow them to be in contact both in real-time or asynchronized. Members of the

course have the opportunity to put some personal information and a photo in a

database (profiles) of the course, which enables them to get to know each other and

have the notion of being in a “real class” with classmates which they can relate to

because they may not have the opportunity to meet face to face.

What matters is not whether the quality of open and distance learning is enhanced by

the application of technologies as such, but how it is used (Kirkwood, 1998). The

concern should be how technology could contribute to the educational process of both

teaching and learning. The production and use of high quality material does not by

itself ensure an improvement in the educational process if there is a lack of support

25


for the learners. The learning programmes described earlier (WebCT, LearningSpace)

give instructors and course members improved opportunities to facilitate two-way

communication and dialogue in the educational process. But whether or not the

process of teaching and learning are improved by the use of computer and

communication technology or the latest online learning programs will depend on the

pedagogic design devised by the educators rather than on the technologies themselves.

Therefore whether distant learning is passive or active is based on the instructional

program delivered.

Mass media have become a very influential factor in shaping the culture of our era.

The task of the next section is to give an account of what mass media stands for.

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4. Mass Media

a) Features of media

With the media being such an influential factor on our lives, it important to

understand key aspects of the term media such as the ideology of media; how they are

organized; how they construct and communicate their message; and how the audience

react to the message. When talking about mass media the media referred to are:

• Newspapers

• Films

• Broadcasting (television and radio)

• Recorded music

• The Internet.

Print media, films, broadcasting and recorded music can be identified as passive in the

sense that the recipient passively receives the message without any influence on the

incoming message whatsoever, whereas with the Internet the receiver has the

opportunity to interact with the incoming message and construct a new one.

In the history of mass media four main elements can be recognized: a technology; the

political, social, economic and cultural situation of a society; a set of activities,

functions or needs; and people especially as formed into groups, classes or interests.

These four elements have interacted in different ways and with different orders of

primacy, sometimes one seeming to be the driving force or precipitating factor,

sometimes another (McQuail, 1997). What kinds of relationships exist between the

media and their ideologies To answer this question it is necessary to draw together

several features of mass media.

• The media communicate ideas.

• The media represent an outside reality to audiences.

• All texts are produced by people.

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• All individual producers of texts and media institutions have viewpoints.

• No text can exist without offering its consumers a position, or “point of

view” to adopt.

• Audiences make meanings and sense from texts in accordance with their

existing knowledge.

• Somebody owns all media institutions.

Many media texts appear to be seamless. Sometimes it is hard to see accurately how

and where the component parts are joined together, as the development of the

narrative diverts the audience’s interest away from the ideological structure. Yet it is

the structure of the text that can give the researcher of the media the best insight into

the ideologies, which run through the text. For example, the way technologies are

used to represent race, gender or age, the way characters are lit or shot and the actions

that we see them carrying out can all reveal something about the ideology encoded in

images. The kind of story, what is included or omitted, and whether the text fits into a

particular genre are all the results of a choice and these choices contribute to the

ideological viewpoints expressed (Downes and Miller, 1998).

Narratives offered to audiences in media do much of the hard work of connecting and

organizing events and thoughts for the audience. Audiences participate in the

narrative by interpreting it, based on previous knowledge and experience as well as on

information given in the text. The audiences of media can choose to consume the

mass media in a broad range of settings, at home or publicly, and can control the

condition in which they are received. This makes the media easy to adapt according

to the need of each individual. Media talk is notably related to the management of

social relationships, both as a means of maintaining social connections as much as it

is motivated by interest in the media per se.

The makers of media text, unlike the common audience, are able to decide on and

control most elements that make up the final version of their narrative, given that the

narrative is a fiction. They can create characters, places and events, predict the future

of these elements, and make things happen. Audiences are presented with a finished

product, which consist only of what the makers have decided to incorporate and is

sometimes dissimilar to the real live events (Downes and Miller, 1998).

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Mass media can be characterised as follows (Downes and Miller, 1998, p. 5):

1. They normally require complex formal organizations.

2. They are directed towards large audiences.

3. They are public – the content is open to all and the distribution is

relatively unstructured and informal.

4. Audiences are heterogeneous – of many different conditions and

widely separated from one another.

5. The mass media can establish simultaneous contact with a large

number of people at a distance from the source and widely

separated from one another

6. The relationship between communications is ‘collectively unique

to modern society’. It is an ‘aggregate of individuals united by a

common focus of interest, engaging in an identical form of

behaviour, and open to adversion towards common ends’, yet the

individuals involved, ‘all unknown’ to each other, have only a

restricted amount of interaction, do not orient their action to each

other and are only loosely organized or lacking organization.

The history of modern media begins with the printed book that was in a sense only a

technical device for reproducing the same or rather similar ranges of text that had

previously been handwritten. With the technology of printing, text could be

distributed to a much larger population than before. Almost two hundred years later

the newspapers could be distinguished from the handbills, pamphlets and newsletters

of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries (Curran and Gurevitch, 1997).

b) Newspapers

Improved technology, rising literacy, commerce, democracy and popular demand all

played a part in the extension of newspaper reaching masses beyond the educated elite

or business class (MacQuail, 1997). In a sense the newspaper was more of an

innovation than the printed book. Its distinctiveness, compared to other forms of

cultural communication, lies in its individualism, reality orientation, utility, secularity

and suitability for the needs of a new class: town-based business and professional

people. Its novelty consists not in its technology or manner of distribution, but in its

functions for a distinct class in a changing and more liberal social-political climate,

the middle class had arrived. What distinguishes the newspaper as a medium is

(MacQuail, 1997, p. 14):

• Regular and frequent apperance

• Commodity form

• Informal content

• Public sphere functions

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• Urban, secular audience

• Relative freedom

The late-nineteenth-century bourgeois newspaper was a high point in press history

and contributed much to the modern understanding of what a newspaper is. It was the

product of several events and circumstances: the triumph of liberalism and the

absence or ending of direct censorship or economic constraint; the emergence of a

progressive capitalist class and several new professions, thus forging a business–

professional establishment; and many social and technological changes favouring the

rise of national or regional press of high information quality.

The main features of the new prestige or elite press which was established in this

period were: formal independence from stable and vested interests; recognition as a

major institution of political and social life; a highly developed sense of social and

ethical responsibility and the rise of a journalistic profession dedicated to the

objective reporting of events. Many current expectations about what a quality

newspaper is still reflect several of these ideas and provide the basis of criticisms of

newspapers which deviate from the ideal, by being either too partisan or too

sensational (MacQuail, 1997).

The mass newspaper has been called commercial for two main reasons: it operates for

profit by monopolistic concerns, and it is heavily dependent on product advertising

revenue. The commercial aims and underpinnings of the mass newspaper have

exerted considerable influence on the content, in the direction of political populism as

well as support for business, consumerism and the free enterprise.

Usually newspapers are publicized on a daily basis carrying the latest news and other

material which can be entertainment, reviews, cartoons, editorials, features or

advertisements for. Traditionally a newspaper organization is characterised by the

concentration of a number of different functions in the same place. Management,

editorial and production are usually located in the same building to facilitate the goal

of working under pressure to fulfil deadlines. However, the distribution can be in the

hands of a separate organization. Newspaper workers are organized as hierarchies,

with strong demarcated lines of authority and control (Price, 1997).

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c) Films

At the end of the nineteenth century film began as a technological novelty. It

introduced a new means of presentation and distribution of an older tradition of

entertainment, offering stories, spectacles, music, drama, humour and technical tricks

for popular consumption. As a mass medium, film was partly a response to the

invention of leisure – time out of work and an answer to the demand for economical

and usually respectable ways of enjoying free time for the whole family. Thus it

provided for the working class some of the cultural benefits already enjoyed by the

social betters.

The film as a medium can be identified by (MacQuail, 1997, p.18):

• Audiovisual technology

• Public performance

• Extensive (universal) appeal

• Predominantly narrative fiction

• International character

• Public regulation

• Ideological character

Film for the use of propaganda is important, based on its great reach, supposed

realism, emotional impact and popularity when applied to national and societal

purposes. The news films from the Second World War are good examples.

Noteworthy turning points in the film history were the coming of television and the

Americanisation of the film industry and film culture in the years after the First World

War (Tunstall, 1977). The relative decline of the potential European film industry

reinforced by World War II contributed to a homogenisation of film culture and a

convergence of ideas about the definition of film as a medium. Television took away

a large part of the film viewing public and diverted the social documentary stream of

film development and gave it a more congenial home in television. A notable turning

point is also the reduced need for respectability; the film became more free to cater to

the demand for violent, horrific, or pornographic content leading to a ever increasing

level of immunity (MacQuail, 1997).

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d) Radio and Television – The broadcast media

Radio and television grew out of pre-existing technologies such as telephone,

telegraph, moving and still photography, and some sound recording. Radio has a

history of seventy plus years and television about forty years. Although there are

obvious differences regarding content and use, both seem to have been a technology

looking for a use, rather than a response to a demand for a new kind of service and

content (MacQuail, 1997). As stated by Williams (1975, p. 25),

“Unlike all previous communications technologies, radio and television were

systems primarily designed for transmission and reception as abstract

processes, with little or no definition of predicting content”.

The content of radio and television borrowed from already existing media –film,

music, stories, news and sport.

The main innovations common to both radio and television have been based on the

direct observation, transmission and reception of events as they happen. Another

distinctive feature of radio and television has been a high degree of regulation, control

or licensing by public authority – initially out of technical necessity, later from a

mixture of democratic choice, state self-interest, economic convenience and sheer

institutional custom. A third and related historical feature of radio and television

media has been their centre–periphery distribution and the association of national

television with political life and the power centres of society, as both radio and

television have become established as both popular and politically important. Radio

and television have hardly anywhere acquired, as a right, the same freedom that the

press enjoys, to express views and act with political independence (MacQuail, 1997).

The broadcast media radio and television can be characterized by (MacQuail, 1997, p.

19):

• Very large output, range and reach

• Audiovisual content

• Complex technology and organization

• Public character and extensive regulation

• National and international character

• Very diverse content forms

e) Recorded Music

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The recording and replaying of music began around 1880 and was fairly rapidly

diffused, on the basis of the wide appeal of popular songs and melodies. This

popularity related to the already established place of the piano (and other instruments)

in the home. Much radio content since the early days has consisted of music, even

more so since the rise of television. The music television station MTV is an example.

Although there has been a tendency for the phonogram to replace the private making

of music, there has never been a large gap between mass mediated music and personal

and direct audience enjoyment of musical performance (concerts, choirs, bands,

dances, etc.). The phonogram makes music of all kinds more accessible at all times in

more places to more people, but it is hard to distinguish a fundamental discontinuity

in the general character of popular musical experience, despite changes of type and

fashion (MacQuail, 1997).

Changes in the broader character of the phonogram have been noticed and the first

one can be related to the radio broadcasting. The radio broadcast of music increased

the range and amount of music available and extended it to many more people than

had access to gramophones. The change of radio from a family to an individual

medium in the post-war transistor revolution was a second main change. This opened

up a new market of young people for what became a growing record industry. Since

then, portable tape players, Sony Walkman, the compact disc and music video have

all developed and given the spiral another twist, based mainly on young audiences

(MacQuail, 1997). This has resulted in a mass media industry that is very

interrelated, concentrated in ownership and internationalized (Negus, 1993). In spite

of this, music media have significant radical and creative stands that have developed

regardless of increased commercialization (Frith, 1981).

Music and its relationship to social events has always been recognized and

occasionally celebrated or feared. From the rise of the youth-based industry in the

1960s, mass-mediated popular music has been connected to youthful idealism and

political concern, to supposed degeneration and pleasure-seeking, to drug-taking,

violence and an antisocial way of thinking. Music has also played a part in various

nationalist independence movements (e.g. Ireland or Estonia). It has never been easy

to regulate the content of music although the distribution has been in the hands of

established institutions. Most popular music has continued to express and respond to

enduring conventional values and personal needs. The recorded music (phonogram)

media can be distinguished by (MacQuail, 1997, p. 20):

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• Multiple technologies of recording and dissemination

• Low degree of regulation

• High degree of internationalization

• Younger audience

• Subversive potential

• Organizational fragmentation

• Diversity of reception possibilities

e) The Internet

The Internet refers to what is sometimes called telematic media, telematic because

they combine telecommunications and informatics. The telematic media have been

heralded as the key component in the latest communication revolution that will

replace broadcast television, as we know it. The Internet is a multifaceted mass

medium, that is, it contains many different configurations of communication. Its

varied forms show the connection between the interpersonal and mass communication

(Morris and Organ, 1996). Since the 1970s these new media have been widely taken

up as a mass media (MacQuail, 1997). Several kinds of technology are involved: of

transmission (by cable or satellite); of miniaturization; of storage and retrieval; of

display (using flexible combinations of text and graphics); and of control (by

computer). The main features by contrast with the old media, are: decentralization –

supply and choice are no longer predominantly in the hands of the supplier of

communication; high capacity – cable or satellite delivery overcomes the former

restrictions of cost, distance and capacity; interactivity – the receiver can select,

answer back, exchange and be linked to other receivers directly; and flexibility of

form, content and use.

Not only does this new media facilitate the distribution of existing radio and

television it also offers computer video games, virtual reality and video recordings of

all kinds. CD-ROMS (standing for compact disc, read only memory) offer flexible

and easy access to very large stores of information, by way of computer-readable

discs (MacQuail, 1997). In general, the new media have bridged differences both

between media and also between public and private definitions of communication

activities. The Internet communication takes many forms, from World Wide Web

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pages operated by major news organizations to Usenet groups to E-mail messages

among colleagues and friends. The Internet’s communication forms can be

understood as a continuum. Production, for example, need no longer be concentrated

in large centrally located organizations (typical of film and television), nor so

centrally controlled. The sources of the message can range from one person in E-mail

communication, to a social group in a Listserv or Usenet group, to a group of

professional journalists in a World Wide Web page. The messages themselves can be

traditional journalistic news stories created by a reporter and editor, stories created

over a long period of time by many people, or simply conversations, such as in an

Internet Relay Chat group. The receivers, or the audiences, of the messages can also

number from one to a potential millions, who may or may not move fluidly from their

role as audience members to producers of message (Morris and Organ, 1996).

What distinguishes the telematic media is (MacQuail, 1997, p. 22):

• Computer-based technologies

• Hybrid, flexible character

• Interactive potential

• Private and public functions

• Low degree of regulation

• Interconnectedness

The expansion of channels of media communication has increased the means through

which government can communicate with society and social groups. The media have

become essential in the process of elections and government publicity. In the same

way the broadcast media rely on government for their licenses to operate, and all

news operators depend on government as a major source of stories (Burton, 1999).

Levinson (1999) has considered the circumstances surrounding any medium. Radio,

for example, magnifies the human voice right away across vast distances to a mass

audience. It makes print obsolescent as a mass medium, we prefer to hear the first

news on the radio instead of waiting for an extra addition of a newspaper. Radio

retrieves the town crier who had been extinct by the print. Acoustic radio, when

pushed to its limits, transforms into audio-visual television. This process is repeated

when we look at the television the medium that radio reversed into. TV amplifies the

visual, but in an “acoustic” all-at-once sense, not in the one-on-one sense of

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individuals reading separate newspapers, most likely not all on the same page. TV

made radio obsolescent; it retrieves the visual but not in the way the visuality of print

had been made obsolescent by radio. The retrieval of the visual in TV is something

new, a hybrid of previous visuality with current electronic attributes that is genuinely

different. When limned to its full extent, the screen of television flips into the screen

of the personal computer (Levinson, 1999).

5. Social Factors of Learning

a) Visualization, Media and Perception

In a society in which advertising images can lure people into a sense of emotional

security while undermining their health, in which political images can affect

emotional response before critical analytical abilities are invoked, and in which mass

media entertainment images of violence can have devastating provocation effects, the

nature of battle for survival has changed considerably since our brains evolved from

the primal environmental – response pattern. Visual media such as television, video

and computers are the main channels in getting the messages perceived by the mass

audiences.

Those theorists that deal with perception accept that it is largely confined to

individual consciousness and is subject to differing sensory abilities. They also agree

that perception is continually affected and often substantially altered by memory and

emotion (Barry, 1997). In building up perception through our senses vision plays a

crucial role. Vision is a result of a number of subsystems functioning independently

of each other and is beyond all introspective understanding (Wolfe, 1983). Perception

is not only liable to misrepresentation it is highly vulnerable to emotional

manipulation on an unconscious level, which in turn affects our conscious thinking.

Lightning, shadow, and colour can be changed to produce a more positive or negative

emotional impact; context can be subtle but suggestive enough to alter our conscious

option of the subject within it. These entries occur before we knowingly form a

judgment that we believe to be informed, objective, and unbiased. When reality is

mediated in print, photography, television and film what we see is a synthetic reality

highly sensitive to manipulation. Bandura’s Social Learning Theory claims that

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shocking experiences may later mix with actual occurrences in memory and render

them indistinguishable from one another. Media fare may then play a substantial role

in developing mental maps that blend media and reality together as a single mental

experience, which in turn directs our interpretation of the present, further revises

memory and affects the direction of our thoughts and actions (Barry, 1997). If our

perception is an internal, creative, problem-solving process, we may never really

know what is “out there”. Our judgment is only efficient, never sufficient for

survival. Even on the most basic level our vulnerability to illusion should give us

pause - especially since in understanding our environment today we have come to rely

heavily on media as an extension of our senses. The story of the couple that saw the

volcano start to erupt is a good example; they saw the smoke with their own eyes,

found the smell of the sulphur, heard the noise from the mountain, but to be

absolutely sure they turned the radio on.

b) Television

Developments in computer technology and telecommunication are of much interest

today but the power of television as a media is presumably the single most important

development of the past thirty years.

In the 1950s and 60s there was a rapid growth in the development of television.

Previously books and other printed media had been the source of information

(Meyrowitz, 1996, p.74):

“While books are based on abstract symbols and a linear and sequential

structure that encourages logical thinking, television is image- and soundbased,

concrete, visceral, sensual, holistic, emotional, nonlinear, simultaneous,

and constantly in flux”

With the beginning of television as a media many educators, academics and cultural

critics saw this as an end to literacy and saw our society transformed by the sort of

technology represented by the box in the living room (Meyrowitz, 1996). According

to Herbert Marshall McLuhan a Canadian 20 th - century communication theorist the

modes of thinking, behaviour, and social organization generated from literacy and

printing are not natural or everlasting and that five hundred years of increasing

influence is coming to an end. Linear progress is a myth (McLuhan, 1996). He says

(McLuhan, 1996, p. 8):

“Societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media by which

men communicate than by the content of the communication. The alphabet, for

instance, is a technology that is absorbed by a very young child in a completely

unconscious manner, by osmosis so to speak. Words and meaning of words

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predispose the child to think and act automatically in certain ways. The

alphabet and print technology fostered and encouraged a fragmenting process, a

process of specialism and of detachment. Electric technology fosters and

encourages unification and involvement. It is impossible to understand social

and cultural changes without a knowledge of the working of media”

Studies have show that an average child spends more time watching television than

any other activity except school and sleep. Nearly all households in western societies

possess a TV set, and the average time the TV set is switched on is about five to six

hours a day, but different members of the household are watching at different times of

day (Giddens, 1994). In table 2 the statistics from the Nordic countries show the

average viewing time 1992-1995 (min/day)

Table 2.

Average viewing time of television 1992-1995 (min/day)

Denmark Finland Iceland Norway Sweden

Year Age 4+ Age 10+ Age 12-80 Age 12+ Age 3+

1992 143 116 … 122 …

1993 147 126 134 133 124

1994 154 138 134 140 139

1995 157 141 146 143 143

Note: All figure come from TV-meter ratings, exept for Iceland

Source: Gallup Denmark, Finnland & Audience Research, Social Science Institute at the University of

Iceland, MMI Norway, and MMS.

All the countries show a steady increase in viewing time. Broadcasting hours of

television are also increasing. Statistics in table 3 show the nationwide transmission

time of television in the Nordic countries in 1990 – 1995

Table3.

Nordic countries. Nationwide television: transmission time 1990-1995 (hours/week)

Year Denmark Finland Iceland Norway Sweden Total

1990 60 169 127 61 128 545

1991 116 185 130 116 123 670

1992 198 185 131 247 261 1022

1993 194 206 132 276 224 1032

1994 218 221 140 324 256 1159

1995 253 243 240 363 264 1363

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Note: All figure come from TV-meter ratings, exept for Iceland

Source: Gallup Denmark, Finnland & Audience Research, Social Science Institute at the University of

Iceland, MMI Norway, and MMS.

Increases are bound to have the result that television will have an ever-stronger

influence factor on mass audiences. The increase in transmission time suggests

growing numbers of broadcasting channels, often resulting in a viewing habit of

flicking through the programs and seldom seeing a whole programme through.

Many surveys and studies have been made to assess the effects of television

programmes on viewers, and especially on children. Violence in television

programmes has been of great concern since the early days of television and the

increased level of immunity to violence, horror and pornographic content is also of

great worry.

In the 1960s an American psychologist Albert Bandura investigated children who had

seen violent behaviour on film and found out that these children were more likely to

be aggressive in their play afterwards. From his famous Bobo doll experiment

Bandura’s Social Learning Theory (SLT) was developed. It suggests that “learning is

primarily a cognitive, representational process in which the representations are

mentally transformed, stored either symbolically or iconically, and retrieved before

being manifested as imitation” (Spencer, 1991, p. 194).

In his book "Children Talking Television" David Buckingham suggests that the

relationship between media text and audience response, sociocultural structure and

human agency, is one which by definition is always played out in relation to

children’s social locations, purposes and competence. For example, the trend to

which the narrative logic of the latest MTV video or mini-series fixes a dominant

cultural ideology, or makes available multiple identities and reading positions, is itself

a product of the complex interactions of home, community, school and peer cultures

(Buckingham, 1993).

Buckingham points out that television viewing is mainly a social activity, which

usually takes place in the company of others, where viewers talk to each other or even

39


to the screen, instead of sitting passively absorbing what they watch. Even when we

watch television by ourselves, we talk about it with others and that has become a vital

element of our everyday social lives. He also suggests (Buckingham, 1993, p. 40):

“…talk about television may carry a significant social charge. It is an arena in

which we may - deliberately or inadvertently - display our moral values, our

social and political affiliations, and our perceptions of ourselves and of

others".

Talking about television is a process of bringing out the meanings that work for

particular audience groups, which then, in turn, go to activate those meanings in the

next viewing. In this way solitary viewing can be experienced as group viewing,

because the viewer knows well that other members of the group are viewing at the

same time (Fiske, 1987). In this way a common experience reinforces a shared

culture.

Television lifts many of the old veils of secrecy between children and adults, men and

women, and politicians and average citizens. By blurring “who knows what about

whom” and “who knows what compared to whom”, television cultivates the blurring

of social identities, socialization stage, and ranks of hierarchy. The electronic society

is portrayed by more adultlike children and more childlike adults; more careerorientated

women and more family-oriented men; and by leaders who conduct

themselves more like the “person next door” just as the average citizens insist on

having more say in local, national, and international affairs (Meyrowitz, 1996).

The emergence of the television in the 1950s and 1960s influenced the manner in

which politicians could get their message across. The relationship between them and

journalists are continually evolving in ways that can significantly affect the substance

and tone of the media report. Greater value and increased priority are given on

image-making skills and getting the appearance of things right.

The professionalization of political advocacy is manifested in many ways: increased

trust of technical experts who supposedly know the media ropes, public advisers,

public relations specialists, campaign management consultants; the belief among

politicians that the key to competitive success is in superior agenda setting, getting the

main news outlets to give more high-flying and more positive attention to one’s

favourite issue than those of one’s opponents; tactics of close message control,

focusing only on those issues that may help one’s course, never straying from the

40


chosen theme of the day, and bombarding journalists with deluges of complaints to

show that they are being watched; and adoption of a hardball publicity ethic, based on

the principle that the quickest and most effective way to act on the balance of public

opinion is to mount strongly negative attacks on one’s opponent (Blumer and

Gurevitch, 1997). It also depends on the ownership of the media if the message is

amicable to the policy of the given media company.

Media companies try to control all aspects of their operation, usually summarized as

production, distribution and retailing. They take a stake in other media as well and

even diversify into other business. They are becoming more transnational in

ownership, financing, organization, production, distribution, content, reception and

even regulation (McQuail, 1997).

c) Audiences

Change is not only refashioning the media companies and organizations, technologies,

markets and resources; it is also transforming the social conditions of media

audiences. Blumer and Gurevitch (1997) list in the book Mass Media and Society

what they find to be the most significant developments in those changes (Blumer and

Gurevitch, 1997, p. 127):

1. The breakdown of traditionally authoritative institutions that once anchored

many people’s identities and loyalties.

2. A related weakening of traditional agencies of socialization and public order,

such as families and schools.

3. The advance of individualistic, consumerist lifestyles, associated with

expectations of rising income and educational levels, aggressive commercial

advertising and the ascendance of philosophies that cater to consumptionoriented

populations.

4. Increased mobility, not only geographical, occupational and social but also

psychic, with more identities to assume and more cultural perspectives to

meet.

5. An altered, albeit contested, status of certain groups – women, ethnic

minorities and young people.

6. A decline in moral certitude and consensus, blurring formerly more clear

boundaries of taste and acceptability, and provoking greater conflict over the

boundaries between the permissible and forbidden

7. The onset in the civic sphere of relatively intractable problems, such as those

of economic management, safeguarding the environment, escalating demands

and costs of social provision and rising rate of crime, drug addiction and other

manifestations of social breakdown

These trends demand more of authorities, whose capacity to cope has been reduced.

They have also created a more communication-dependent society at the very moment

41


when – due to the forces of commercialisation, proliferation of media outlets and

globalisation – regularity powers of societies and instruments over the major

communications media are weakening (Blumer and Gurevitch, 1997). The

convergence of communication technology, as represented by the computer, has set

off a fear of demassification, as audiences become more and more fragmented. The

credibility of the computer as a mass media is also put into question. Traditional

media hire editors and checkers to determine what information is accurate whereas

source credibility will vary on the Internet. A much greater burden is placed on the

user of the Internet to determine how much faith to place on a given source.

According to this the importance of teaching analytical methods of the media has

never been greater.

d) Control

Control of the media varies between countries, depending on the legal framework that

has been established in each country. The control in some countries is exercised at

both state and national levels. The economics of the company have some effect, for

example independent television companies must compete to ensure an audience to

attract advertisers. State control is also exercised in various ways. Independent

television is produced by companies, which must win a franchise from the

government periodically (Dowers and Miller, 1998).

The market-based media are under control of their owners. The tendency of the

owners is to set broad lines of policy, which are likely to be followed by the editorial

staff they employ and through this control the content of the media. There may be

informal and indirect pressure on particular issues that matter to the owners.

The structure of the mass media is also shaped by its attractiveness to the advertisers.

Most free-market media are finely tuned to jointly maximizing the needs of

advertisers and their own interests (MacQuail, 1997).

There is no control on the Internet and its existence is not in the hands on any one

organization.

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e) Social aspects of learning

Accusations are often made about the lack of connection between the school

environment and real life experience. Formal education confronts children with many

demands that are not a regular or frequent characteristic of their everyday experience

outside the classroom. The practice of education confronts children with meaningful

and necessary discontinuities in their intellectual, social and linguistic experiences

(Wood, 1995).

Miller and Gildea (1987) carried out research on how children learned vocabulary.

They compared learning words in the everyday practice of conversation with trying to

learn from dictionaries.

They found out that in everyday practice children learn by listening, talking and

reading. The average 17 year old has learnt vocabulary at a rate of 5000 words per

year (13 words per day) for over 16 years. This vocabulary is meaningful to them;

they know both what it means and how to use it. Whereas learning words from

abstract definitions and sentences of the dictionary is slower and far less successful.

The children in the study acquired between 100 and 200 words per year working that

way, and had trouble in using the language in practice (Miller and Gildea, 1987).

According to Bernstein children from the middle class social background find it easier

to accommodate to the school system than the working class one, because the

language and social norm of the school serve better their comprehension. David

Wood does not agree with Bernstein in this respect he says (Wood, 1995, p. 213):

“..it is a mistake to think of schooling simply as a preserve of one social group. It is

not, I suggest, profitably seen as a ´middle-class´ institution, for example. Adults

from such social backgrounds may well populate it, but simply viewing school as a

continuation of experiences that are typical of one social group is, I believe, a gross

oversimplification. Such a view ignores and belies the many specific demands that

are ´special´ to schooling. Put it another way, schools have a culture of their own”

Seeing the school as a part of our social setting Salomon and Perkins (1998) analyse

the concept of social learning in their article “Individual and social aspects of

learning”. Two conceptions of learning can be identified each with its own metaphor.

One is the conception of the individual learner, emphasizing the possession of

knowledge and cognitive skill as transferable commodities. The other is the

sociocultural conception, emphasizing context, interaction and situated environment

(Salomon and Perkins, 1998). In looking at the ideas of critical conditions for

43


learning on one hand and learning systems designed to facilitate those conditions on

the other Salomon and Perkins (1998) propose six meanings of the term social

learning which are elaborated further here:

1. Active social mediation of individual learning, (e.g., tutorials or collaborative team

learning). A teacher teaching reading and writing; parents correcting a child’s

ungrammatical utterance; a master taking on apprentices; children working together to

master problems each learning from one another. Here the facilitating agent and the

learner form a joint learning system, the facilitating agent helping the learner to

achieve critical conditions of learning and scaffolding the learner’s performance. The

aim is to create a better learning system for the primary learner by bringing in a

facilitating social agent to help meet critical conditions of learning. The theoretical

foundation here is greatly influenced by Vygotsky’s conception of the zone of

proximal development. The social scaffolding entails two vital processes:

internalization and active construction of knowledge. The importance of active,

constructive participation is highlighted with an interesting difference between

tutoring and peer problem solving. Adult tutors aim to facilitate learning whereas

peers working together often aim to complete the task. Factors that seem to be

important in facilitating learning are: intensive interaction, rapid feedback, highly

personalized and situational contingent guidance, encouragement and elicitation of

responses from the student in form of explanations, suggestions, reflections, and

considerations, rather than offering ready-made information, direction, error

corrections or answers. Another social factor is important and has to do with the

objectifications of one’s thoughts. Ideas still to-be-formulated and considerations

which when communicated and shared, can be discussed, examined and elaborated

upon as if they were external objects are quite impossible to do outside social context.

2. Social mediation as participatory knowledge construction (as conceptualised by

socio-cultural approach). Here learning is looked at as a socio-cultural thing and as a

matter of participation in a social process of knowledge construction. Social

mediation of learning and the individual involved are seen as an integrated and highly

situated system in which the interaction serves as the socially shared vehicles of

thoughts. For that reason the learning products of this system constructed as they are

in cooperation, are circulated over the whole social system rather than possessed by

the participating individual. Here there are differences between the situative and the

cognitive approaches and they appear in the instructional design to each one of them.

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In the situative approach, social knowledge construction develops distributed

knowledge, skills, and understandings around the target system. What is acquired is

rather holistic and the hoped-for transfer is to other similar activity systems. In the

cognitive approach, social knowledge construction serves individual knowledge

construction. The aim is to equip the learner with portable chunks of knowledge,

skill, and understandings that can serve in other contexts. This leads to two basic

versions of the ideas concerning social mediation of learning. The more common one

(cognitive, acquisition-oriented) sees the social system as enhancing the individual’s

learning as an individual striving to improve his or her mastery of knowledge and

skill. The more radical version (situative, participation-oriented) sees the individual

and the social agents as a unified learning system, the learning outcomes of which are

both situated in the particular interactive context and distributed among the

participants.

3. Social mediation by cultural scaffolding (as embodied in the accumulated wisdom

residing in tools). Here the learner enters into a kind of intellectual partnership helped

by cultural artifacts in the form of tools and information sources. These artifacts can

range from books and videotapes, which tacitly embody shared cultural

understanding, to statistical tools and socially shared symbol systems embodying e.g.

language of thinking. The cultural surrounding helps in meeting the conditions of

learning. It can be a rich information source, provides diverse opportunities to act,

and offers feedback as the learner tries things and sees them succeed or fail. From a

socio-cultural point of view, cultural artifacts are seen as social mediators of learning

in an important way. Since artifacts are culturally and historically situated, carrying

wisdom and hidden assumptions that went into their design, they reorganize action,

determining what can be carried out when, where and in what form and for what

purpose. The role of tools and symbol systems as both reflecting and affecting the

human psyche has long been recognized and they are is seen as social mediators of

learning. Tools characteristically play a double role, as means to act upon the world

and as cognitive scaffolds that facilitate such action. Some tools not only enrich one’s

cognition but also actually transform it. Memory is not the same any more when with

the help of the tools (computers) information can been obtained from different kind of

resources within a few seconds.

4. Social entity as a learning system (e.g. the learning of whole organizations)

Learning as seen here is when people speak of teams or organizations or cultures or

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other collective learning. The focus here is on a collective agency that acquires more

knowledge, understanding, or skill, a different climate or culture. A sports team or a

business organization achieves patterns of coordination among the individuals that

might be quite useless for any one of those individuals functioning alone and

meaningless without the context of the team. Here the group constitutes a collective

learning system, a system that will function better or worse as a learner depending on

how well its structures address critical conditions of learning. Most learning of social

entities is well situated, sports teams for example do not study and practice for years

before starting to play or corporations do not apprentice to other corporations for

years before trying it on their own. At the conceptual level concepts such as learning,

memory, models and modelling, reinforcement, trial and error, need to be

reinterpreted in the context of social entities. Organizations like individuals can learn

and many of the fundamental phenomena of learning are the same for organizations.

There are nevertheless distinctive characteristics of organizational learning as to what

is learned and how it is learned. These are drawn from the fact that an organization is

by definition a collective with individuals and larger units in different roles that

involve different perspectives and values, passing information through their own

filters and with noisy and loss-prone information channels connecting them.

5. Learning to be a social learner. Learning to learn is another sense of social

learning. Youngsters not only acquire knowledge, understanding, and skill in

particular areas such as language use, soccer or algebra, they also acquire knowledge,

understanding and skill about learning itself. Metamemory concerns children’s

developing understanding of their own memories and how to manage memory. How

to ask questions, when to ask them and where to enter into a mutual learning

relationship is a capacity to deal with the critical conditions of learning by acquiring

new ways to capitalize upon the social surround.

6. Learning social content. How to get along with others, how to maintain reasonable

assertiveness, how to collaborate in reaching decisions and taking collective actions

are different aspects taken into account here (Salomon and Perkins, 1998)

Effective learning involves not one learning system but several functioning together

in a spiral of reciprocity. This means that well designed instruction involves different

learning systems at different moments in synergistic interaction (Salomon and

Perkins, 1998). Looking at the rather impoverished spirals characterised by many

46


school settings, for example, the routine seesaw system between the teacher

interacting didactically with many students or the system of one student in front of a

textbook or worksheet, allows the concrete implication of the formula of the spiral to

become plainer. Innovative instruction of virtually any sort involves an enrichment of

this seesaw model with more varied and elaborate spirals of reciprocity.

4. The Future

a) Future role of education

The implications for education of the developments in computer and communication

technology are significant. Instant access to text, sound, pictures (both stored and

real-time) from around the world can provide a rich, new environment for learning.

The flow of information makes it very important for teachers and those who handle

education to be increasingly selective in choosing information and handling

information. It will also be ever more important to improve information handling

skills of the individuals, the skills to access, sort and manipulate information.

Individuals will in an increasing manner need to be able to sort through

advertisements, consumer group evaluations, energy efficiency ratings and

environmental impacts, dealing with complex social issues raised by new

technologies, a huge challenge even to the most capable (Hutchinson, 1993).

The educational system will also be faced with growing pressure for debating what is

the best future for all humankind. There is significant support by those of varied

political, religious and philosophical views that there is a need to incorporate and

teach values within the educational system. The scientific/technological machine is

“increasing momentum, free of public scrutiny” (Hutchinson, 1993, p. 93). Examples

are the engineering of new life forms and changing the genetic characteristics of

human beings.

In the chapter on social factors of learning I gave an account of new trends recognized

in the social conditions of media audiences, which then reflect the changes in society.

47


These changes relate to the basic human values such as acceptance of diversity,

tolerance of other’s view, respect for our planet, others and ourselves.

The position of the teacher and his role is therefore examined in the light of these new

dimensions

a) Teacher’s role

At different times and in different parts of the world teachers have had the role of

being disseminators of literacy, guardians of culture, vicars of morality, architects of

the good citizen and agents of the Gods. In more recent times, schools have been

allocated the task of achieving social equality, overcoming material disadvantage and

eradicating prejudice. Teachers and instructional designers need to be capable of

diagnosing the needs of the individual learner and knowing how to meet these needs

when discovered (Wood, 1995).

Teachers have many strong traits that can enhance education greatly:

1. In the lives of their students, teachers often achieve an influence beyond the

intellectual knowledge they impart. Adults often look back on a teacher who had an

inspiring and positive effect on their lives.

2. Human teachers can make decisions that might be difficult for a machine. For

example, a computer can judge grammatical integrity in a paper, but evaluating the

worth of original ideas is impossible for today’s machines.

3. Many teachers are extraordinarily creative and develop new and better ways of

teaching.

4. By their presence, teachers stress that learning must be integrated into a world

populated by people, who are intelligent and have feelings.

5. Teachers, by helping students to understand and accept each other, can ease

problems that often develop.

6. Teachers can be the role models that children need (Bennet, 1999).

Technological developments have equipped teacher and instructional designers with

a variety of innovative tools to meet the acquired skills of the profession. Westera

(1999) identifies three major factors that clear the way for these innovations:

• The convergence of classroom teaching and distance learning;

• The effective technology-push for addressing new ways of collaborative

learning; and

• Changing student-tutor relationships.

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Traditionally, classroom teaching has been contrasted with distance education, but the

ever-rising use of the computer and computer networks in education is changing this

notion. Computer – mediated communication has both affected the teacher’s role in

the classroom teaching and the social isolation of students in distance education. It

offers a meeting point in cyberspace for anyone involved in the educational process

and the need for social interaction within the setting of distance education. Classroom

teaching and distant education are combining a new educational approach that

combines the strengths of both practices. It addresses the individual needs within a

collaborative context. Although primarily pushed by technological means for

delivery and support, it represents an educational innovation that affects the

pedagogical fundamentals of education and learning, supporting new ways of learning

and creating a new educational frame of reference (Westera, 1999).

The software available to deliver distance education becomes more and more simple

and many programs can be handled without any training. The common ownership of

computers means that users are gradually more and more experienced with these

tools. Collaborative learning implies that the use of the computer is dependent on the

telecommunications facilities. It can be reached either in, an asynchronous way like e-

mail, conference tools or news, or synchronous with real-audio/video or

videoconferencing. As mentioned before the development of the so-called

“groupware” or on-line learning systems offers a number of extended functionalities

for the support of collective design. The role of the media changes from being a

distributor and presenter of knowledge to that of a flexible, interactive, educational

tool in support of all kinds of learning activities more or less in a user friendly way

(Westera, 1999).

It has already been said that the availability of a worldwide computer network is

assumed to have a tremendous impact on existing social and cultural patterns. It

opens up a vast reservoir of information that can be accessed and filtered with the

assistance of sophisticated search machines. The Internet also sets up an open (virtual)

community, showing only a few barriers for the exchange of ideas of others. Some

basic suppositions of educational systems are affected.

First, the position of the teacher is recognizably going through changes from being an

absolute expert in the field, while students have an easy access to new or actual

information, not even known to the teacher. The teacher will no longer be the one

who keeps the information but will be a valuable helper in providing the proper

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pathway to the needed information and of assisting the student in interpreting what he

or she learns and giving it a context.

Second, delicate information like examination assignments and associated

elaborations will be distributed among students using the WWW. Any information

society tends to be an open society and any information available to one member is

bound to become available to all members of the group involved.

Third, remote learning facilities and models for collaborative learning make the

contact with the tutor less important.

Fourth, computer-mediated communication is different from face-to-face contact.

Emotions are poorly transferred and may easily be disregarded or misinterpreted. In

asynchronous communication, speaking skills and assertiveness will become less

important. The teacher’s authority, being based on professional communication skills,

is seen to be affected by this impoverishment of the communication (Westera, 1999).

All these factors cause the relationship between tutor and student to become more

egalitarian; some of the tasks usually made by the tutors are taken over by the

students themselves. This is greater than before because of lifelong learning ideas

where students are often adult, highly autonomous, mid-career professionals who

consider themselves as users of educational services. This means that the common

authority and predominance of the tutor is highly undermined, causing the tutor’s role

to shift to that of a coach, providing meta-level guidance and support to stimulate and

optimise each student’s learning process.

b) Lifelong Education and Cultivation of Knowledge

As we move into the 21 st century, the thought of lifelong education is becoming a

reality. Markets move so quickly and jobs skills are outdated so soon that the need to

continually upgrade one’s skills and education are becoming vital for survival.

The shift from an industrial-based to a knowledge-based society marks our era. In the

knowledge-based society what is valued in our work determines what is needed to

prepare for life and work. The role of education and learning for cultivating our

knowledge and skill is central to this new society. Learning for life is no longer

relevant but lifelong learning and education have become the centrepiece of our age.

This transition leads to new notions of how we refer to education as the focus of

cultivating knowledge and skill to prepare for the Knowledge Age. Traditionally

when we consider why education plays a crucial role in society the reaction usually is

that education empowers individuals to contribute to society; fulfils their personal

talents; fulfils their civic responsibilities and carries tradition forwards (Trilling and

50


Hood, 1999). In the Knowledge Age the implication to these statements change

considerably:

1. Contributing to Society. The skills needed for daily work in knowledge-based

society have to be based on a set of skills for participating in a complicated web of

global economic, informational, technological, political, social and ecological

interrelationships. These skills are needed in order to learn new ways to live and

work in our very complicated, technological, information–rich world (Trilling and

Hood, 1999).

2. Fulfilling personal talents. To a greater extent people enjoy the benefit of the

powerful knowledge tools – computers and telecommunications hardware and

software. These tools add to our learning, our work, and our play. They can be looked

at as amplifiers, storerooms and sensory extensions for our thinking and

communications and are becoming “power tools” for our personal development. If a

strong social plan to make these tools available to everyone is not made, the existing

gap between “knowledge rich” and “knowledge poor” will increase. The darker use

of these tools can lead to addictive violence and titillation, feeling of social isolation

and even depression from over-immersion in electronic media space. These negative

things may play a part in preventing many of our children from fully developing their

talents (Trilling and Hood, 1999).

3. Fulfilling civic responsibilities. The Internet and the electronic media have opened

a much wider field of issues, facts, opinions, and conversations than ever and the

potential for involvement and informed participation has never been greater. This

leads to the need to become a “smart customer” of information. To learn how to

exercise discrimination and filter the flow of information becomes more and more

important. As fewer and fewer international media companies control the source of

information we get the need to make careful choices and use critical judgments is

greater than ever (Trilling and Hood, 1999).

4. Carrying tradition forward. Multicultural societies are on the increase everywhere

due to worldwide mobility, immigration and inter-marriage and growing economic

opportunity. This leads to the call for the maintenance of skills to preserve one’s

identity as well as to learn compassion and tolerance for the identities and traditions

of others (Trilling and Hood, 1999).

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These new approaches to education leads to consideration of what kind of skills

learners need to fulfil the requirement in the Knowledge Age. Trilling and Hood

(1999) here outline what they believe to be the key Knowledge Age survival skills,

the seven Cs seen in table 4 (Trilling and Hood, 1999, p. 8):

Table 4. Seven Cs of skills.

Seven Cs

Critical thinking-and-doing

Creativity

Collaboration

Component Skills

Problem-solving, Research, Analysis

Project Management, etc

New Knowledge Creation, “Best Fit”

Design Solutions, Artful Storytelling, etc.

Cooperation, Compromise, Consensus,

Community-building, etc.

Cross-cultural Understanding

Communication

Computing

Career & Learning Self-reliance

Across Diverse Ethnic, Knowledge

And organizational Cultures

Crafting Message and Using

Media Effectively

Effective Use of Electronic Information

And Knowledge Tools

Managing Change, Lifelong Learning

and Career Redefinition.

Although this new set of skills is seen to be necessary to handle the requirements of

the Knowledge Age our educational systems do not keep up the pace of the business

world. The education of the Industrial Age with learning through facts, drill and

practice, is slowly but steadily being modified to the education of the Knowledge

Age. Learning through projects and problems, inquiry and design, discovery, and

invention, employing new methods based on collaborative learning, problem-based

52


learning and situated learning using the latest expertise in computer and

communication technology are more and more to be seen.

Trilling and Hood summarise the major findings of over two decades of progress that

educators, developmental and cognitive psychologists, neuropsychologists, learning

and instructional theorists, sociologists, academic researchers and others have

achieved to what is known about how we learn. They developed a model they call

“The five Cs of modern learning theory” (Trilling and Hood, 1999 p. 9):

• Context: Environmental Learning

• Construction: Mental Model Building

• Caring: Intrinsic Motivation

• Competence: Multiple Intelligences

• Community: Learning Communities of Practice

Context is very important in learning and the environmental conditions are considered

much more influential than before. The transfer of knowledge from one context to

another is not often successful in the case in school conditions as real–world

conditions. Therefore there is an increasing demand for more “authentic” learning

tasks that match real-world conditions in addition to the need of having rich learning

environments that offer a wide variety of contextualised opportunities for discovery,

inquiry, design, practice, instruction and constructive exploration. This approach

coincides with the need to become proficient in solving real-world problems and to

exercise critical thinking and doing in the Knowledge Age (Trilling and Hood, 1999).

Construction refers to how mental models are built. A new experience is assimilated

and changes accommodated to our models as we confront experiences that don’t quite

“fit” and we even hold important misconceptions about the world as necessary bridges

to more “accurate” models. The educational importance of constructing models, both

physically and “virtually” are understood. It can be seen how valuable design,

simulation, and building activities are in learning, for they match the constructive,

modelling and designing aspects of learning and the manner in which they prepare for

the methods used to accomplish the future knowledge work (Trilling and Hood,

1999).

Caring about what one is doing is an important factor of learning. Recent projectbased

and problem-based learning programs where learners define their own projects

53


and set their own criteria for which they will be evaluated have shown that much

learning can happen when students genuinely care about what they are doing. These

findings coincide with the Knowledge Age need to develop self-reliant and selfmotivated

learners and workers who have the determination to creatively solve

difficult problems and find answers to tough, complex questions (Trilling and Hood,

1999).

Competence comes in a variety of flavours but the debate over what are the inherent

“modules of learning” is still ongoing. It is known that it is rewarding to encourage

multiple learning approaches to match diverse learning styles and multiple ways of

expressing understanding. This supports the Knowledge Age necessity to benefit

from multiple talents in the creative solving of problems in diverse teams, and in the

delicate design of services and products for diverse audiences (Trilling and Hood,

1999).

Community plays a crucial role in learning as know from the socio-cultural theories of

learning. This extends the value of learning in context, as said before, to the social

and cultural realms of group interaction, peer and mentor relations, group culture, and

the environmental influences of tools, settings, and techniques. All these matters

again support the Knowledge Age need to use collaborative, community-based

methods to problem solving and to learn from a range of communities of practice in

the chase of lifelong learning.

This new learning model of the five Cs shows that the skill demanded of the

Knowledge Age are very consistent with the ways we naturally learn, solve problems,

find answers to questions, and develop our abilities to think and act. Fortunately, there

is a close match between the theory and Knowledge Age needs but unfortunately

current educational practice often does not match modern theory (Trilling and Hood,

1999).

c) Computer Technology and the Future Perspective

Computer technology in education has the potential for improving education.

Technology innovations are increasing the demand for reforms in teaching and

learning approaches. A recent research report (North Central Regional Educational

Laboratory) presented conclusions about the most beneficial approaches to

54


technology use in K-12 educational settings of the 21 st century. The authors report

that (Valdez et al., 1999, p. 1):

1. Technology offers opportunities for learner-control, increased motivation,

connections to the real world, and data-driven assessments tied to content

standards that, when implemented systemically, enhance student achievement

as measured in a variety of ways, including, but not exclusively limited to,

standardized achievement tests.

2. Policymakers are demanding greater accountability for technology use, both

because of resource expenditures and because research shows that the ability

to use technology effectively is now necessary for all lifelong learners.

3. Generalizing findings from technology research has been difficult because it is

a rapidly moving target due to changes in technology and an educational

vision.

When looking more closely at their findings Valdez et al. also conclude that

technology has an important role to play in K-12 education though it will not solve all

educational problems. Student attitude and interest towards the subject is improved

because technology makes learning more interactive, enjoyable and customizable.

Minimally, for technology to play a positive role, the following factors must be

considered (Valdez et al., 1999, p. 2):

• The success or failure of technology is more dependent on human and

contextual factors than on hardware or software.

• The extent to which teachers are given time and access to pertinent training to

use computers to support learning plays a major role in determining whether

or not technology has a positive impact on achievement. Students of teachers

with more than ten hours of training significantly outperformed students

whose teachers had five or fewer hours of training.

• The success or failure of technology involves seeing it as a valuable resource.

This requires determining where it can have the highest payoff and then

matching the design of the application with the intended purpose and learning

goal. The success or failure of technology-enabled learning experiences often

depends on whether the software design and instructional methods

surrounding its use are congruent.

• The success of technology depends on having significant critical access to

hardware and applications that are appropriate to the learning expectations of

the activity. Research and best practice indicate that one computer for every

four to five students is necessary if students are to be able to use technology in

a manner that will yield significant improvements in learning

It is the teacher’s perception that improves the climate for learning especially because

technology increases student motivation in subjects for which they use computers

(Valdez et al., 1999).

55


When printed material came about and became a public resource of knowledge the

educational system strived to teach everyone to read and write to be competent to use

the printed material. Now the educational system is facing it again, but not to teach to

read and write but to help the learner be able to master the new computer and

communication technology. A report by Oppenheimer (1997) on a poll taken in the

USA claimed that teachers ranked computer skills and media technology as being

more important and more essential to master than other school subjects such as

history and science (Salomon, 2000). Salomon reported that teachers in a good

training college were taught a new (constructivist) pedagogy and the technology that

helps realize it real classrooms. They were given the opportunity to experience first

hand a constructivist, team-based, problem-oriented and technology intensive

pedagogy. But when the students were asked what was the most significant thing

they had experienced and learned, they stated that it was the use of the computer.

Mastering the technology promoted one’s self esteem and perceived self-efficacy,

while mastery of the new pedagogy aroused uncertainty (Salomon, 2000).

When discussing the technology and the conception of knowledge it is possible to talk

about three functions, the preservation of knowledge, production of new knowledge,

and transmission of knowledge. With online courses access to knowledge is made

possible. With ready access to knowledge it is becoming less and less important to

possess knowledge, and far more important to know were to find the information you

need (Salomon, 2000). The information encountered and accessed is not the same as

the knowledge constructed on its basis. Information is not knowledge, the difference

between the two being (Salomon, 2000, p. 4):

• Information is discrete, knowledge is arranged in networks with meaningful

connections between the nodes

• Information can be transmitted as is: knowledge needs to be constructed as a

web of meaningful connections

• Information needs to be contextualized; knowledge is always part of a context

• Information requires clarity; the construction of knowledge is facilitated by

ambiguity, conflict and uncertainty

• Mastery of information can be demonstrated by its re-production; mastery of

knowledge is demonstrated by its novel application.

Information items do not link to each other by themselves, except for complete

association. In doing so they need at least two things: tutelage and a community of

learners (Salomon, 2000). Salomon once studied the extent to which an intelligent

computer programme served as a “more capable peer” in student ZPD. The

56


programme could do that but did not match to a human tutor as it lacked the human

touch (Salomon, 2000). The importance of the interpersonal component is a crucial

factor when constructing knowledge and the community of learner behaves as one.

Fundamental elements of good learning are based on socially distributed cognitions

and socially appropriated knowledge as seen in the theories of Vygotsky.

Computer and communication technology allow an easy access to information. It can

offer problems to be solved, like in simulations, it can provide methods of navigating

new multimedia routes or connect students from different continents, but it cannot

transform the information accessed into knowledge.

The new vision of learning is to make learning accessible to all, but it is expensive

and difficult to reach this vision within the methods used by traditional education.

The critical cost factor is the cost per student for an hour of instruction, including both

development of learning material and the delivery of it. The current interactive

technology, hardware, and software make it a thinkable goal to reduce the cost factor

and provide education for all. Digital technology makes it possible to reach more

people than ever before. Educating the world is no longer a utopian dream but a

technical possibility (Bork, 2000). There are a few important factors in creating a

learning model for a computer tutorial learning system which have to be considered;

first, it must be highly interactive, second, it must be individualized; third, it has to be

adaptive to the needs of each student; four, it entails mastery where every student

learns everything in each subject; fifth, in creative learning students must construct

their own knowledge; sixth, the learning content may rely on problem solving,

creativity and intuition; seventh, learning can take place in distant setting where

students can be anywhere and can learn at any time; and eight, peer learning will be

encouraged.

Alfred Bork at the Irvin University of California (UCI) suggests a plan for a new

learning model using a computer tutorial learning system. The first step is to gain

information about the production of highly interactive tutorial units and consider all

ages and financial data for the future. The next step would be testing the experimental

units with large numbers of students in both formative and summative evaluation.

Using the result of the empirical effort a large-scale development could proceed.

Bork anticipates these developments to be on similar scale as putting a man on the

moon but with less uncertainty. Learning material must be prepared in many areas, in

many languages, spanning birth to death over a period of many years. It would be

57


est to have this effort worldwide supporting development and distribution for

developing countries. With this effort we might have the chance to educate everyone

at all levels (Bork, 2000).

5. Summary and Conclusions

The purpose of this dissertation is to examine some learning theories and their

implication for learning and teaching, to consider how influential the mass media are

and whether developments in technology and telecommunication are changing the

way in which learning and teaching can be organized.

The underlying theories of education stem from two different approaches, behavioural

and cognitive, and in the first chapter a brief overview of them is given. In answering

the question what theories the schools use, Clark and Salomon (1986) note that there

has been a paradigm shift from the behavioural to cognitive theories. Instructional

design models are now viewed more as heuristic devices than recipes for success.

Objectives are specified more tentatively, awaiting negotiation with students and

confrontations with the vicissitudes of the classroom. Learning is seen to be situated

within larger contexts of culture that affect how students perceive and approach the

task they confront. This aspect is in agreement with Vygotsky’s view of learning.

Instructional activities are felt to be best if open-ended, yet linked to real-life

situations that the students typically will encounter outside the classroom. The

emerging information superhighway, with its “World Wide Web” of hypermedia

interlinking the world’s computer networks, is being labelled as a tool of student

empowerment. The term intellectual tool is generally attributed to Vygotsky. He

noted that nature endows humans with certain elementary mental functions such as

memory, attention and the capacity to make associations based on contiguity. We use

these basic functions to make sense of our environment. One of the most important

tasks of an educational system is to inculcate the young with the intellectual tools of

58


the culture. Our society is filled with technological innovations and is changing the

way children comprehend their existence when compared to 20-30 years ago.

Media are a crucial factor with the mass media as the source of information and

entertainment. In the chapter about media I have given an account of how media

interact with the cognition. Ever since World War II and audio-visual developments

the use of audiovisual media by educationalists has been encouraged. “Bringing the

world to the classroom” was the motto (Ely et al., 1995). Some teachers used films to

fill in time, while others tried to integrate it to the curriculum. The medium was used

as enrichment to improve the quality of teaching. In the early days when radio,

motion pictures and television were introduced to the classroom the notion was that

these new media would replace teachers. This however has not yet happened. In

recent times, the distance education movement has in fact replaced teachers. The

replacement is actually a television or radio programme, a computer disc, printed

material, a laboratory kit, or a computer. It can be said that teachers have replaced

themselves and their ideas with a medium that takes the place of the face-to-face

instruction that historically characterised most education. The developments in

telecommunications have made it possible to let distant education take place with

more interactivity than before. This interactivity diminishes the distance between

student and teacher and the teacher can in fact be everywhere in the world so long as

he has a computer with net connections. A rural school, for an example, that cannot

find a teacher to teach a special subject can solve the problem by turning to a distance

education organization. Students of higher education can undertake Open University

courses offered at a distance, and by this adapt learning to their rural settings or fulltime

job. A computer, tape, film or written material can replace teachers in their

traditional roles in front of a class. Advanced computer learning systems enable

students to “meet” each other in a virtual classroom based on the Net. In these

situations the role of the teacher is becoming a manager of information, guiding the

students to their resources.

With the mass media being such an important factor in shaping our society, chapter

three considers key aspects of mass media. The media analyzed are newspapers,

films, broadcasting media (television and radio), recorded music and the Internet. All

these media except the Internet are one-way communicators and in that sense are

passive media where the audiences are not able to interact with it. But there is a

relationship between the media and the audiences through the ideology of the media.

59


In analyzing the mass media it is necessary to understand that the media communicate

ideas that are produced by people. Individual producers of texts and the media

institutions have viewpoints. All texts offer consumers a position, or a point of view,

to adapt to and the audiences make meanings and sense from these texts in accordance

with their existing knowledge. Those that compose the media text can be acted upon

as opinion leaders. Their resources of information and the message they deliver

depend upon several things. For example, the market-based media are under control

of their owners and therefore have to follow a policy line. The authors of the message

have a strong influence in constructing the perception and experience of the audiences

but the perception is also influenced by the social group and cultural experience of the

audience.

The Internet is classified as a mass medium and is seen to replace broadcast

television, as we know it. The interaction that the Internet offers changes the way it

serves as a mass medium and the main feature by contrast with the old media is

decentralization. This means that the audiences choose the material they want to

obtain. They can select, answer back, exchange and be linked to other receivers

directly. Those using the Net have to adapt to critical thinking and selection of the

vast amount of information offered.

Social factors of learning are dealt with in chapter four. When looking back and

seeing how the developments in the mass media have affected the society it is the

growth in the development of television that is worth dwelling on. Before the time of

television the printed material was the source of information and to get a message

through, the audiences had to be able to read but the visualization of the television

made information availability a lot easier. Television has lifted the old veils of

secrecy between children and adults, men and women, rich and poor, and politicians

and average citizens. By doing that it has changed how we conduct our lives. The

appearance on the screen is what matters. This is obvious when witnessing politicians

and others appearing on the screen; they are not judged by their spoken word but how

they dress, how they conduct themselves and if they fit the image of what we think is

acceptable on the screen. In this way the television affects our existence. The

increase of the viewing of television and the increase of broadcasting time lead us to

consider how the content affects the population. The content is of concern as the level

of immunity increases. The competition between different channels leads to the need

to attract the audiences’ attention and we witness on the screen events that always go

60


a step further in that direction. The rising ownership of television in the 1950s to 60s

was to trigger the advance of the information society we are now living in. It is

interesting to notice the rise of cognitive psychology within the field of educational

technology parallel to the emergence of the rising ownership of television.

There have been accusations of the lack of connections between school and real life

experience. Effective learning involves several learning systems functioning together,

acting upon the social setting and the culture the learner is a part of, as the sociocultural

theories of Vygotsky suggest.

The fourth chapter looks at the implications of developments in the computer and

communication for teaching and learning. The instant access to information makes it

important that teachers and learners develop the skill of being selective when

choosing and handling information. The growing moral debate of what is best for

humankind, resulting from developments in science, will also face the educational

system. The role of the teacher is shifting from being the source of information to

being the one that guides and assists in interpreting and putting information in

context. In this sense it will be difficult to replace teachers with machines. With the

socio-cultural/constructivist approach teachers have to be familiar with individual

needs and address them within a collaborative context, both in conventional and

distant learning settings. With life-long learning the relationships between teacher

and students are becoming more egalitarian since the students often are adult, highly

independent, mid-carrier professionals who consider themselves as users of

educational services. The shift from the industrial society to the information or

knowledge society is affecting educational patterns, leading to the necessity to

constantly upgrade jobs skills and education to be fit for the job market. The

education of the Industrial Age is slowly being modified to the education of the

Knowledge Age. Knowledge Age education requires learning through projects and

problems, inquiry and design, discovery and invention, resulting in new methods

based on collaborative-, problem based- and situated learning.

As already said the technological developments offer new opportunities in methods in

teaching and learning. With the computer learners have the possibility of taking

distance courses, accessing information within a seconds and controlling the time to

learn. These technological developments lead to a new approach to teaching;

teaching how to manage the technology, how to operate the computer, learning to use

the hardware, learning to use the software and how to find and select information on

61


the Internet. When discussing access to knowledge and information it is important to

recognize that being able to access knowledge is not the same as possessing the

knowledge constructed on its basis. Mastering the technology itself is seen to be

more important amongst teachers than mastering new pedagogies in teaching. Media

mediates information but not knowledge and therefore the link between education and

society must be based on the pedagogical methods in using them. Technology

determines what can be done but educational considerations must be about how it will

be done.

In a vision on how to make education accessible to all, Alfred Bork suggests that

technology can provide the answer by creating learning models for a computer tutorial

system. Current interactive technology, hardware and software, makes it a thinkable

goal to reduce the cost factor, which is very high in the traditional educational system.

The emergence of a single world, a global economic space, a competitive scene in

which the possession of information, knowledge and the development of innovation

increasingly appear as prime factors of successful development and education of all

would give us a brighter future.

62


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