ERIC Identifier: ED270103
Publication Date: 1985-12-00
Author: McLean, Lois
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Information Resources Syracuse NY.
Videodiscs in Education. ERIC Digest.
Videodiscs could have a revolutionary impact on the use of audiovisual
media in education. What makes the videodisc so attractive? Videodisc systems
can combine the best features of instructional television and computer assisted
instruction. They can provide individualized, self-paced instruction with
feedback and remediation, while incorporating all traditional audiovisual media
into one easy-to-use, durable format.
The real revolution, however, is that videodisc allows the creation of
interactive video programming. Traditional video programs play linearly, in a
pre-planned beginning-to-end sequence. With the videodisc, learners,
instructors, and lesson designers have an opportunity for input and control over
the sequence of the program. The sequence is dynamic, changing in response to
overall objectives, as well as the style and level of instruction.
WHAT IS A VIDEODISC?
The most promising format for educational applications is the reflective
optical laser videodisc. These discs resemble shiny, silver audio records. They
are prepared from a master video tape transferred to disc through "mastering,"
which imprints the disc with microscopic pits to be "read" by a laser beam
during disc play. Slides, film, video, and print can all be transferred to
A standard size videodisc can hold up to 30 minutes of high quality, motion
video, or up to 54,000 still frames on each side. Modulation of the laser beam
allows rapid, random access to any single frame on a disc side, without wear on
the disc surface.
Additional features include dual audio tracks or stereo sound, variable-speed
motion and single frame advance in forward or reverse modes, and the capacity
for branching to specific frames or segments in response to viewer input.
WHAT EQUIPMENT IS REQUIRED TO USE VIDEODISC PROGRAMS?
System hardware configurations usually include a videodisc player, video
monitor, microcomputer, computer screen, and an interface to connect the
computer and the video player. Videodisc systems are categorized according to
their level of interactivity.
--A Level 1 videodisc system is a stand-alone videodisc player, which may
allow dual audio and random access of still frames, freeze-frames, auto-stop,
and chapter search, but has no memory or processing power. A keypad is used to
input data, and output may include audio from one of the two available channels
together with standard motion and still frame graphics. The user can select what
is to be viewed next and which audio channel will be heard.
--Level 2 systems use a stand-alone, educational/industrial player allowing
disc control through an internal programmable microprocessor. The keypad at this
level can be used for numeric entries and some special options. While the format
of the output is essentially the same as it is for the Level 1 player, the
microprocessor has enough memory to receive multiple programs and provide a more
sophisticated level of interaction for the user.
--Level 3 disc systems add the power of an external computer to a videodisc
player by connecting them with an interface device, usually a computer card. In
addition to the videodisc for audio and motion graphics and still frame
graphics, media for such systems include floppy diskettes for the computer
programs. An audiocassette can also be used to provide random access sound over
still frames and over computer graphics. Authoring packages are available to
assist Level 3 program designers.
--More sophisticated systems are being developed which have capabilities far
beyond those of the original Level 3 system. For example, a graphic overlay
capability has been developed that allows the display to contain graphics
generated by a computer, visuals from a videodisc, or a combination of the two,
without the user being aware that the material comes from different sources;
availability of more powerful (and less expensive) microcomputers has made
possible an expansion of system control; and digital recording of audio can be
used to greatly extend the amount of stereo sound that can be provided over
still graphics on a single videodisc.
Compared to videotape, videodiscs have the advantage of increased durability,
rapid access time, and, in large quantities, lower replication costs. Unlike
videotape, however, once a videodisc is pressed, it is not possible to record
over it, although very expensive recordable disc formats are available.
WHAT ARE THE EDUCATIONAL APPLICATIONS OF VIDEODISCS?
In addition to being useful in such traditional computer assisted instruction
(CAI) formats as tutorials and drill and practice, videodisc technology holds
special promise for a range of applications, including:
--Simulating expensive or dangerous procedures, as in physics or chemistry
experiments, or teaching the operation of mechanical equipment
--Simulating human interactions to provide realistic practice in
interpersonal situations, such as between salespersons and clients, teachers and
students, medical personnel and patients, counselors and their clients, and
teachers and parents
--Teaching standarized procedures that must be performed in a specific way,
such as first aid training
--Storing audiovisual databases, such as collections of still photographs or
--Showing visual details and reviewing and comparing visual material, as in
art education, health education, and technical training
--Using the two audio tracks to store different information about the same
visual images for foreign language instruction, or for adapting materials for
varied ability levels
WHO IS USING VIDEODISCS IN EDUCATION?
Videodisc is still a new technology. Few commercial educational videodiscs
are yet available. The situation is improving, with electronic publishing
attracting increased interest from instructional materials producers. The first
videodiscs have been primarily the product of research and development projects,
although some of these are available for purchase or loan. Several projects are
experimenting with the principles of interactive video by creating interactive
--The pioneering Nebraska Videodisc Design/Production Group has produced
videodiscs on many topics, including whales, metrics, basic tumbling, Spanish
pronunciation, and decision-making for the hearing/impaired, and has shared
information through workshops, seminars, and publications.
--Utah State University has been actively involved with disc technology,
producing discs for special education and other applications. The
federally-funded Videodisc Interactive Microcomputer (VIM) Institute enabled
elementary schools and other educational institutions to experiment with
videodiscs in the classroom.
--Additional institutions with disc projects include the Minnesota
Educational Computing Consortium (MECC), the University of Washington (health
sciences), the University of Iowa Weeg Computing Center (art history, medical
education), the University of Delaware (music), the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, Lehigh University, Simon Fraser University, Brigham Young
University, and the Pennsylvania State University.
Commercially available discs have addressed topics related to computer
literacy and new electronic technologies, astronomy and space exploration,
social studies, biology, music, art history, and physics. Major educational
publishers are moving into the field. For example, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich,
Inc., is developing a program for K-12 to accompany a text book series.
Although research is still limited, early findings indicate that "interactive
videodisc instruction, which is thoughtfully and systematically developed, and
shows creative new instructional strategies, is beginning to demonstrate
consistent positive results" (DeBloois, Maki, & Hall, 1984, p. 53). Studies
have found that students learn more efficiently and enjoy learning more than
with traditional approaches.
HOW CAN I LEARN MORE ABOUT VIDEODISCS IN EDUCATION?
Although educators are often anxious to try interactive video in their
classrooms, information to help them get started has been difficult to find.
Phil Kessinger, a secondary school history teacher in Eugene, Oregon, was an
early advocate of the medium and received a grant to provide inservice education
about videodiscs to teachers in his district. He is helping to organize the
Special Interest Group for Videodisc Interactive Microcomputers (SIGVIM) for
educators who wish to share information about videodiscs. For further
information, contact Phil Kessinger, SIGVIM, International Council for Computers
in Education (ICCE), University of Oregon, 1787 Agate Street, Eugene, Oregon
The following additional resources should be helpful for anyone who would
like to know more about this exciting technology.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
International Interactive Communications Society (IICS). Local chapters in
major cities, newsletter. Contact IICS National Office, 2120 Steiner Street, San
Francisco, CA 94115 (415-922-0214).
Nebraska Video Design/Production Group. Newsletter, workshops, seminars.
Contact the Videodisc Design/Production Group, KUON-TV, University of
Nebraska-Lincoln, P.O. Box 83111, Lincoln, NE 68501 (402-472-3611).
Society of Applied Learning Technology (SALT). Annual conferences,
publications. Contact SALT, 50 Culpeper Street, Warrenton, VA 22186
Daynes, R. & Butler, B. (1984). THE VIDEODISK BOOK. A GUIDE AND
DIRECTORY. New York: John Wiley and Sons.
Floyd, S., & Floyd, B. (1982). THE HANDBOOK OF INTERACTIVE VIDEO. White
Plains, NY: Knowledge Industry Publications.
Schneider, E., & Bennion, J. (1980). VIDEODISCS. Englewood Cliffs, NJ:
Educational Technology Publications.
THE VIDEODISC MONITOR, VIDEODISC NEWS, VIDEO COMPUTING, VIDEODISK/OPTICAL
DISK MAGAZINE, and articles in ELECTRONIC LEARNING, THE COMPUTING TEACHER,
TECHTRENDS (formerly INSTRUCTIONAL INNOVATOR), and PERFORMANCE AND INSTRUCTION
rk, D. Joseph (1984, September/October). How do interactive videodiscs rate
against other media? INSTRUCTIONAL INNOVATOR, 29(6), 12-16.
Currier, Richard L. (1983, November). Interactive videodisc learning system.
HIGH TECHNOLOGY, 3(11), 51-59.
DeBloois, M., Maki, K.C., & Hall, A.F. (1984). EFFECTIVENESS OF
INTERACTIVE VIDEODISC TRAINING: A COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW. Future Systems
Incorpotared/The Videodisc Monitor.
Faust, J. (1985, July/August). A discography of available education discs.
THE IICS JOURNAL, 3,7,9,10,12.
Reinhold, F. (1984, April). How they are using interactive videodiscs.
ELECTRONIC LEARNING, 3(7), 56-57.
Withrow, F. (1985, Fall). Videodiscs: The thinking person's audiovisual.
AMERICAN EDUCATOR, 22-25, 40-41.