Educational television or learning television is the use of television programs in the field of distance education. It may be in the form of individual television programs or dedicated specialty channels that are often associated with cable television in the United States as public, educational, and government access (PEG) channel providers. There are also adult-education programs for an older audience; many of these are instructional television or telecourse services that can be taken for college credit. Examples of these include Open University programs on BBC television in the UK.
In the social aspects of television, several studies have found that educational television has many advantages. Some television programs are designed with primarily educational purposes in mind, although they might rely heavily on entertainment to communicate their educational messages. Other television programs are designed to raise social awareness. One form of edutainment popular in Latin America is the educational telenovela. Miguel Sabido, a producer of telenovelas from the 1970s on, has combined communication theory with pro-health/education messages to educate audiences throughout Latin America about family planning, literacy, and other topics. He developed a model, which incorporated the work of Albert Bandura and other theorists, as well as research to determine whether programs impacted audience behavior.
In Brazil, some characteristics of the DTV environment were done, such as the return channel and the digital applications, beyond some experiences made in the development of t-learning applications, through which students may interact with iDTV. These applications were developed seeking two different scenarios: students and teacher in a school environment, and a scenario where the applications are broadcasted to a large number of students that do not have full interactivity available.
On India front, from the Government of India, Ministry of HRD, the Swayam Prabha is a group of 32 DTH channels (can also be run in digital TV cable of MSOs and HITS), devoted to telecasting of high-quality educational programs on 24×7 basis.
Every day, there can be new content for at least 4 hours, which would be repeated 5 more times in a day, allowing the students to choose the time of their convenience. The content is provided by NPTEL, IITs, UGC, CEC, IGNOU, NCERT, and NIOS. The INFLIBNET center maintains the web portal. The channels are in the following areas:
- Higher education. Curriculum-based course contents at post-graduate and under-graduate levels, covering diverse disciplines, such as arts, science, commerce, performing arts, social sciences and humanities, engineering, technology, law, medicine, agriculture, and more.
- School education (9–12 level). Modules for teacher’s training as well as teaching and learning aids for children of India to help them understand the subjects better and also help them in preparing for competitive examinations for admission to professional degree programs.
- Curriculum-based courses that can meet the needs of life-long learners of Indian citizens in India and abroad.
- Assist students (class 11th and 12th) prepare for competitive exams.
A few private players like Topper channel continue, but the issues of pricing and growth of viewers still remains a challenge. As digitization stabilizes, and the TV homes can view over 600 or even 700 TV channels in the present era, the utilization of educational content and a genuine marketing and communication for same is required. Private universities too can come forward to enhance many a times their distance-education programs, and possibly provide educational content for TV. Today, the social aspects of edutainment are required also by private channels on water, afforestation, health and hygiene, and more. All content providers have to rise up to the occasion and provide the digital TV-viewing industry a genre, which can be formidable to be used in guide as education.