The Spartanburg Interactive Cable Experiments in Home Education

by William A. Lucas, Karen A. Heald, Judith S. Bazemore

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Interactive cable technology can potentially provide adult and continuing education outside conventional institutions. One set of experiments on the interactive cable system located in Spartanburg, South Carolina, was aimed at adults who have not completed their high school education; the other was aimed at parents interested in the principles of child development. These experiments attempted to determine (1) whether sufficient numbers of students will be attracted to and enroll in courses that rely on home terminals, allowing students to respond interactively to educational programs; and (2) if these students can use the system to make satisfactory educational progress. The Spartanburg project used live instructional programming as its interactive mode of educational technology for the adult and continuing education programs. The teachers taught much as they would in their conventional classrooms, mixing lectures, exercises, and live responses to students' questions. In light of the nature and size of the markets found in Spartanburg, subsidies and detailed regulations to establish such systems do not seem warranted. The most promising avenue appears to be the growth of commercial interactive cable systems.

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