Educational television : invention, intention and intervention : an exploration of the use of the learning channel biology programmes by Grade 12 educators and learners in public schools in an urban area of KwaZulu-Natal.
This research explores the use of the Learning Channel biology programmes by Grade 12 biology educators and learners. These television programmes are broadcast by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and are aimed at supporting Grade 12 learners. Support for Grade 12 learners, especially in public schools with limited resources, is an important factor in determining learners' success. The producers of the Learning Channel claim that their programmes are used extensively and with great success. To test the extent of the use and effectiveness of the programmes, an urban area in Durban was chosen as the focus area for this research. This area was chosen because it has several public secondary schools, all with access to television, and all with learners from the previously disadvantaged race groups. Data collection was devised in three phases. Questionnaires were the main instruments used to collect data. In the first phase, questionnaires were directed to all the schools in the focus area. The findings at this phase indicated that the Learning Channel programmes were not being used in any of the schools. This was due to the very low level of awareness of the programmes among educators and learners. In the second phase, data was elicited to provide information that may enhance the use of Educational Television programmes. The findings at this phase indicated that Grade 12 learners watch television daily yet they do not watch the Learning Channel programmes. It was also found that the role of the educator is the most important factor in determining whether Grade12 learners watch the programmes or not. The findings with regard to educators were that they were not averse to using the programmes. Although educators felt distanced from the programmes, they would consider using the programmes if the programmes were shorter and if educator support material was more readily available. In the third phase, the Grade 12 biology educators and learners watched the same programme of the Learning Channel. They then commented on its effectiveness. The teaching method employed in the programme was liked the most by learners. This methodology incorporated strategies such as the pace of the lesson, use of repetition, etc. to make the programmes understandable. The lack of learner involvement and the constant talking by the presenter was liked the least by learners. The producers of the Learning Channel programmes, therefore need to drastically increase the level of awareness of the programme, provide opportunities for educators to become involved with the programme, and provide greater, sustained educator and learner support strategies.