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TELEVIZION No. 18/2005/E

Learning in Television

It is simply impossible not to learn - and this is also true when children watch television. While the public discourse focusses rather on the negative items that children take from television, research clearly underlines the fact that children also win a lot of positive things from television (Fisch). For example, they learn various factual contents and also prosocial behaviour (Truglio inter alia). Admittedly, they do not always learn as much as would seem desirable - and often they take subject matter with them, which is not really intended (Neuss). To promote quality in educational programmes and to assist children in the acquisition of knowledge, we need a better understanding of the learning processes. The first thing is to accept that learning is an active process, where children construct their knowledge (Speck-Hamdan). Television programmes can be part of this if they relate to the children.s constructions of reality and provide specific spaces of education (Götz). Committed programme producers seek to bolster these learning processes. They develop "hidden secrets" in the dramaturgy (Grewenig), emphasise interactivity and encouragement (Schosser). As you can see from examples from the Finnish School Television, educational programmes are anything but unadventurous. They offer different subjects, from nature programmes to history and modern art (Rajavaara). No doubt about the success of global offers, but children.s and young people.s television still have to face a large number of national and regional challenges. In South Africa, for example, HIV/AIDS is, necessarily, a vital item on the agenda of programmes aimed at promoting adolescents' health and development (Bulbulia). How educational television can keep abreast of current developments is demonstrated by the example of Japanese broadcaster NHK (Kodaira). Despite a host of positive examples, there are still many challenges to be met. In many programmes the fundamental question remains: Is it only quiz-show knowledge or education that is offered (Aufenanger)?

Maya Götz
Head of the International Central Institute for Youth and Educational Television



Angelika Speck-Hamdan
How children learn

Learning is an active process of construction. Television programmes can provide children with a suitable learning environment provided they succeed in arousing children.s interest, offer features they can relate to, and support them in the learning process.

Shalom M. Fisch
Children’s learning from television

Studies on the effectiveness of educational programmes unveil a
truly positive impact. Children learn academic and prosocial content from specifically designed formats, such as that of the Sesame

Rosemarie T. Truglio/Jennifer A. Kotler/David I. Cohen/Anna Housley-Juster
Modelling life skills on Sesame Street

Social learning is the main concern of Sesame Street. As a consequence of September 11th, Sesame Workshop produced episodes on integration, coping with loss and bullying, and tested whether children really learned the intended strategies.

Norbert Neuss
“I’ve learnt something …”

In addition to the ability to judge social interactions, children use learning-oriented programmes to obtain factual knowledge and as a means of behavioural orientation.

Maya Götz
Learning in knowledge and documentary programmes

Children learn about processes and singular facts in knowledge and documentary programmes. Such learning is less frequently about general coherences and values. But they do learn something different from every programme, as each creates its own specific learning space.



Siegmund Grewenig
On the trail of secrets
Finding simple answers to complex questions is an objective set by many children's television producers. Programmes such as Die Sendung
mit der Maus
("The Programme with the Mouse") and Wissen macht
("Knowledge makes you go Ah!") regularly provide "Oh, I
see!"-experiences - for viewers of all ages.

Tuula Rajavaara
Television … as a tool of learning
Finland.s educational excellence is not only born out by the high results of its pupils, as seen in the PISA study, but also by its interesting programmes for schools. Natural phenomena, history, modern art and social learning all have their special appeal: in fact, television for schools is anything but dull.

Firdoze Bulbulia
Educational television programmes in South Africa
In the young democracy of South Africa television is of special importance as an educational, entertaining and information tool. HIV/ AIDS, health and well-being are the great challenges which have to be faced by TV.

Susanne Schosser
Television: the medium to start active learning
Television is not only able to provide children with explanations but can also stimulate young viewers to join in and imitate what is going on. Super RTL programmes such as Blue.s Clues and Art Attack illustrate how such programmes can achieve successful ratings.

Sachiko Imaizumi Kodaira
Where does educational TV go?
To illustrate the development of educational programmes in Japan, NHK is taken as an example, tracing the evolution from the traditional range of programmes for schools towards a digital curriculum. This curriculum now offers in addition to TV programmes video clips, message boards and interactive contents.



Stefan Aufenanger
Stimuli, not set answers

The aim of children's programmes should be to support children in learning to learn. Such an effort does not require descriptive knowledge nor provision of set answers, but rather imparting the ability to apply problem-solving strategies.