The Selection of Appropriate Communication Media for Instruction

A Guide for Designers of Air Force Technical Training Programs

by Rudy Bretz


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Properly chosen communication media can present information more effectively than teachers do, and free the teachers to plan activities, diagnose learning problems, counsel students, and perform other tasks requiring human judgment and warmth. However, the influence of passive entertainment media too often causes instructional media to be used passively, overlooking the importance of learner response and interaction. Modest, inexpensive media, such as still television, slidefilms, and telewriting, often fill a teaching need as well or better than more complex, expensive media. Studies of training films have consistently shown them to contain surprisingly little relevant motion. Some professional touches can actually detract from learning. This report describes the 29 kinds of communications media and discusses their most common applications in instruction. Simple, clearcut criteria, checklists, and flowcharts are provided to help course planners decide when media should be used and which class of media is best suited to each need. A taxonomy of communications media and a dictionary of terminology are appended.

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