The role of radio transmission in providing adult education:  The first communication technology capable to reach mass audiences was the radio.  It was implemented at the beginning of 20th century and it has continuously worked since then. Among first western countries to adopt this new technology were Australia, Canada and The United States. At the beginning it was used for informative purposes and entertaining also took its part. Soon after it started to broadcast, academic representatives started to wonder if this new media could be used for educational purposes. The answers and results were affirmative and a new educational revolution began since then.

radio transmissionHistory is full of anecdotes and facts about successes and failures by using radio as educational tool.  Newest technologies such as television and internet took advantage of those experiences and educators have been able to design and implement more effective methods to reach their goals.

Despite of emerging those new technologies, the radio has not only survived, but still plays a fundamental role in providing adult education. The ease of transmitting, its low cost and accessibility, among others, have made this tool resurface and reinforce its usefulness for education.

First doubts to use the radio for educational purposes

First doubts to use the radio for educational purposes came from the fact that it was not clear whether to apply it to formal or informal education. Also, at that time, in 1920´s and 1930´s there was a significant amount of rural population that was not part of the formal system of education. In addition, the new technology needed some time to spread around the country and become available for the majority either in cities or rural areas. Because of all this, both systems started to be implemented.

radio for educational purposesSeveral universities in The United States obtained their own radio licenses and used them to complement formal education for youth and adults. Private corporations obtained their licenses too and started to mix their programming with educational, cultural and informative segments. Results were also mixed. It was obvious from the beginning that it would necessary to prepare good educative methods to complement the use of the radio transmissions and therefore obtain positive results.  Fortunately, efforts paid off and many people were able to complement their formal education and some others were able to use it as their only source to get educated.

Subsequently, in the middle of the 20th century

Television and video technologies irrupted and radio started to decrease in importance. Then, at the end of the century internet emerged and we are now in the middle of its revolution for education and for many areas as well.  Although radio transmission started to decrease in popularity since then, it has been shown that it still plays a fundamental role in providing adult education.

By confronting radio with new technologies, such as television and internet, it is possible to obtain excellent results for the radio in the field of education for adults. Some strengths of the radio are:

  • Accessibility: since the technology has been widely spread since the last century, radio stations can be found in many places, even in the most remote areas.
  • Affordability: It is easy and cheap to produce radio shows and they can be complemented with the use of new technologies too.
  • Friendly: This source results friendly to almost everyone.
  • Wide range of options to transmit: Through radio, it is possible to use a variety of methods and techniques, such as, talk shows, interviews, drams, documentaries and many others.

education and technologyNowadays, western developed countries differ from developing countries in the rest of the world by its level of education and technology. Also a significant gap can be found between rich and powerful groups and less favored classes. Is it just in this area were radio transmissions play a major role in providing adult education, because they can easily access this technology.

China has already started to implement radio transmission for the rural areas and some countries in Africa are also starting to implement them. In the western, Australia has successfully applied radio for its rural and agricultural areas since many years ago. All these confirm how radio transmission will remain as an effective tool for the adult education.