Instructional Telecommunication,Challenges and Opportunities
‘Instructional Telecommunication theoretically is one of the most recent discipline in education. It deals with integration of communication technology to enhance the process of learning/teaching at distance. For instance, Computer potentially can make education more immperessive with an appropriate technology integration. Based on system approach it emphasizes on role of the media in education. For instance, computer technology is merely one possibility in delivery mode process. It is merely one of the several means available to reach the end. Like other technology and media, computer technology may or may not succeed in improving learning. Such learning does not come about by accident; rather, it needs to be fostered by effective management of technology particularly in the developing countries, where most of them face technology or digital gap. In fact, the present article is going to support the idea of open and flexible learning method as a complimentary approach to traditional educational structures in order to meet the new and challenging demands of education and 21st century learners needs.
Instructional Telecommunication is based on planned learning which uses new theories such as distributed learning and system theory. Teaching/learning normally occurs in different places. It requires a special techniques of course design, special instructional techniques, special methods of communication by media and technology, as well as special organizational and administrative arrangement to bridge the distance between the learner and instructor in virtual world.
The terms open, distance, flexible, and remote learning are used increasingly and loosely to describe a growing and diverse variety of learning delivery systems. The question of just what these terms actually mean has been a source of considerable debate in the literature. The speed of change and the rapid introduction of new developments have presented a considerable challenge, which attempts to capture and define key concepts. Increasingly, the temptation for many is to use some terms interchangeably. There are however critical differences between them. Instructional Telecommunication is more preferred than other concepts. For instance, the concept of ‘Distance Education’ emphasizes the separation between learner and instructor. Lack of interaction and communication among them is highlighted, whereas Instructional telecommunication can explicit more about this kind of relationship. The main assumption of this part of literature review is more cognition about these concepts, which makes it easier to bring the theory in practice. In order to increase theoretical knowledge about the two concepts some definitions are selected to be discussed.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Research and Improvement defines distance education as “the application of telecommunications and electronic devices which enable students and learners to receive instruction that originates from some distant location” (Bruder, 1989: 30). It is “an educational process in which a significant proportion of the teaching is conducted by someone removed in space and/or time from the learner for Hilary Perraton (1988: 34). Michael Moore defines distance teaching as “…the family of instructional methods in which the teaching behaviors are executed apart from the learning behaviors, including those in a contiguous situation would be performed in the learner’s presence, so that communication between the teacher and the learner must be facilitated by print, electronic, mechanical or other devices”. (1989)
The Instructional Telecommunications Council (ITC) define Distance Education as : “The process of extending learning, or delivering instructional resource-sharing opportunities, to locations away from a classroom, building or site, to another classroom, building or site by using video, audio, computer, multimedia communications, or some combination of these with other traditional delivery methods.”
As a result Distance learning continues to be a matter of concern both at the conceptual and implementation level. There is a great deal of confusion about terminology in the distance education field. There are some definitions (Moore, 1997), (Keegan, 1980), which describes distance education as a method of teaching and learning and some others as a system of education. It must be considered that most of the conceptual framework for distance courses mainly drawn from the conventional system. Hence, this approach highlighted a few changes in delivery of instructional method. As it is discussed earlier, any changes in some elements of instructional system can affect the other elements of the system interrelated between the elements, which makes new role and function. Indeed, it is a new system with a new interaction; those must be defined and recognized for instructional design, carrying out and evaluation. Ebrahimzadeh (1997:37) in this regard denoted: “this difference includes not only the process of learning and /or behaviors of the students, but also the staff how should help students through their learning to be independent and self-reliant. This shift from shaping the student behavior to organizising and structuring the learning process change distance education from a method of teaching to an industrial system of education”.’ As a result, distance course management and programming calls for new definition, approaches and operational systems as well as special organizational and administrative arrangements.
Before giving a definition of distance training, it should be pointed out that distance education is not an opposite form of face-to-face or conventional education. It is not synonymous with all learning-teaching arrangements that are not face-to-face or to be defined as the opposite of face-to-face education. It can be used whenever possible and necessary and educationally appropriate (Moore, 1987).
From the collected definition of the concept of distance education further definition presented by Daniel 1996 theoretically is more closer to the present study point of view: Distance education is the offering of educational programs designed to facilitate a learning strategy which does not depend on day-to-day contact teaching but makes best use of the potential of students to study on their own. It provides interactive study material and decentralized learning facilities where students can seek academic and other forms of educational assistance when they need it.
While many authors (e.g., Horton, 2000; Rosenberg, 2000) have defined the benefits of distance training, few have explained why it is important to sustain these programs. Certainly a primary factor is to foster innovation, but innovation cannot be regarded as an end in itself. Rather, distance training presents real economic opportunities to increase performance, maximize profitability, improve market share, reduce risks and liabilities, and enhance the corporate image and its public recognition.
Distance learning is a result of different form of communication. Indeed, distance learning occurs in a non-contiguous communication. While traditional form of education emphasizes face-to-face and two-way communication, distance education uses technology to facilitating and supporting the educational process. On the other hand, distance learning begins with distinguishing from face-to-face communication to telecommunication. Through using technology and mediated communication it again going to provide contiguous communication. The most important point is that both face-to-face and non-contiguously communication may or may not terminate learning. Another crucial thing is interaction between learner and source of learning. That is what it has been defined as instructional telecommunication. Theoretically, the main assumption of the present review of literature is that separation or distance between trainer and trainee does not means miscommunication or elimination of communication but mediated or telecommunication. Instructional telecommunication calls for special techniques of course design, based on selection and application of media and technology communication by electronic and other technology, as well as special organizational and administrative arrangements. As the present literature review reveals that instructional technology is an under-used approach to training; the next paragraph will discuss the role of it in distance learning.
Role of Instructional Technology in Distance Education
As it is mentioned earlier, instructional telecommunication comes up from open and flexible learning approach. The approaches aimed to facilitate the instructional process in particular for adult learners and those who cannot by any reason attend an inflexible instructional program. In training courses flexible and open approach remains as a critical issue. Most of the training program must occur in their workplace. Instead of leaving their work place, instructional telecommunication can provide the opportunity to deliver the content in their workplace to improve their accessibility. On the other hand, the most important aspect is accessibility to continuing education to those who are employed, when they are free and have time, who are physically challenged, but are competent in a different way through various mode, and cannot reach the place of learning.
Relation between Instructional Institute and Learners in Technological Systems and Conventional Systems
Source: Chegini, 2003
Technology can help disseminate education from the best sources from around the globe, to whom , who can learn from their own place, pace, irrespective of age, sex, career, religion, and social–economic status, political boundaries and barriers, and who are in an urgent need of education, wherever, thus crossing all geographic constrain. While the research finds out indicated that learners learn better by doing, by working on real problems in real environments, instructional telecommunication can provide much better-suited environments than conventional system on instruction. In this manner two different roles for media can be considered; first is dissemination of knowledge and information e.g. whatever mainly is in the social environments; and the second is educating and training the knowledge and information e.g. whatever is in the educational environments.
One of the most important challenges of media in education is to how to shift from ‘knowledge dispenser’ to ‘learning facilitator’. Hence, as it is illustrated in the above diagram the most important role of the media and technology in instructional situation is to facilitate the communication between trainer and trainee to facilitate the learning processes. Playing this role in distance training makes a new obligation for media and technology with regard to design and implementation.
Distance learning applications consists of 5 key components that are critical to designing and implementing a quality distance training program (Moore & Kearsley, 1996).
• Sources– The philosophical and theoretical framework necessary for understanding learning, learner needs, motivation and learning styles/strategies;
• Design- The instructional design, media and assessment measures necessary to develop instructional materials;
• Delivery- The technology necessary to convey the learning material to the learner(s);
• Interaction- The communication/support to transmit the instructional contents and technology to prepare self instructional material; and
• Learning Environment- The setting in which the learners receives the Instructional contents
As it has been pointed out, most important role of technology is filling up the distance between trainer and trainee through using communication technologies. Hence, distance training is an instructional system based on application of another form of communication between them, which must be defined.
The following Figure presented by Keegan (1986) points up four categories of media and technology in distance education:
Figure 2-10 -Category of Media and Technology in Distance Education
Source: Keegan (1986)
Five Models of Instructional Telecommunication in Terms of Media and Technology
Time Pl ace Pace Advanced
Flexibility Flexibility Flexibility Delivery Interactive
1) The Correspondence Model
– Print high high high low
2) The Multimedia Model
– Print high high high low
– Audiotape high high high low
– Videotape high high high low
– Computer Based
Learning high high high high
– Interactive Video high high high high
3) The Telelearning Model
– Audio Teleconferencing low low low high
– Video Conferencing low low low high
Communication low low low high
Broadcast TV/Radio &
Audio low low low high
Teleconferencing low low low high
4) The Flexible Learning Model
– Interactive Multimedia (IMM) high high high high
– Internet-based high high high high
– Computer Mediated high high high high
5) The Intelligent Flexible Learning Model
– Interactive Multimedia high high high high
– Internet-based high high high high
– Computer Mediated high high high high
Communication & Automated
(Adapted from Taylor, 1995, 2000)
As a result of above discussion it could be concluded that Distance learning occurs in a non-contiguously communication. While traditional form of education emphasizes face to face and two way communication, distance education uses technology to facilitating and supporting the educational process. On the other hand, distance learning begins with distinguishing from face to face communication to telecommunication. Through using technology and mediated communication it again going to provide contiguous communication. The most important point is that both face to face and non-contiguously communication may or may not terminate to learning. Another crucial thing is interaction between learner and source of learning. That is what it have been defined as instructional telecommunication.
Instructional telecommunication calls for special techniques of course design base on selection and application of media and technology communication by electronic and other technology, as well as special organizational and administrative arrangements.
Instructional telecommunication a way to development in developing world. Therefore, Instructional telecommunication is a new discipline try to answer questions related to why and how it can meet the needs of distance learners through tele access to courses for the learners.