Multimedia Educational Systems

By McGivney, James J. | The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, February 1993 | Go to article overview

Multimedia Educational Systems


McGivney, James J., The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin


In the late 19th century, the educational reform movement embraced the Industrial Revolution and the application of "modern" business methods to improve the educational process and to provide a viable workforce for American society. Today, the issue centers on law enforcement's ability to adapt to a "technological" revolution to improve its training and education system. In other words, can recent advances in multimedia educational systems ease the problems associated with shrinking law enforcement training budgets?

Before such a discussion begins, however, readers must understand what constitute multimedia-based educational systems. In general, these systems use or combine several available technologies. These include not only the traditional audio-visual instructional aids, such as films, overheads, and videos, but also the use and application of newer technologies, such as teleconferencing, satellite broadcasting, computer-based training, interactive video, compact disc, and laser disc technology.

Knowing what technology is available, however, covers only a portion of the instructional process. Trainers also need to know how to apply or incorporate this technology into their individual educational systems. Their ability to do so is limited primarily by two factors--imagination and funding. Is funding prohibitive, or can the long-term applications of advanced technology be cost-effective and alleviate the training budget crunch?

This article examines satellite broadcasting and computer-based training. It covers their practical applications, while considering advantages, disadvantages, and cost-effectiveness.

SATELLITE BROADCASTING

Satellite broadcasting and telecommunication began in the late 1960s with the successful launch of the TELESTAR satellite and rapidly expanded. Today, most Americans take advantage of its capabilities in various ways. For example, nightly television news programs broadcast live, fast-breaking world events. Portable cellular telephones beam their long-distance messages from coast to coast, bouncing radio waves off satellites orbiting hundreds of miles above the earth.

Satellite broadcasts also allow the airing of educational programs in many American corporate educational systems. One private corporation's system covers 20 major metropolitan centers and 23 plant sites. This amounts to over 200,000 days of training to employees annually.(1)

Those interested in training via satellite television can look to several sources that routinely prepare and air educational programming. These organizations make their programs available either free of charge or through subscriptions. Even though they pay for satellite broadcasts, subscribers obtain training at a cost well below what they would have to spend to organize, develop, and produce in-house programs.

For example, the Law Enforcement Training Network (LETN) provides an educational satellite broadcast service on law enforcement-related topics for a set monthly fee, depending on the size of the subscribing agency.(2) On LETN, nationally recognized law enforcement experts provide training on topics ranging from Constitutional law to drug identification procedures. By using the available technology, personnel serving in even small police departments receive timely, pertinent, and professional instruction.

The FBI and the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department sponsor six teleconferences annually over the Law Enforcement Satellite Training Network (LESTN). These programs also cover a wide array of law enforcement topics and are offered free of charge. Agencies can receive broadcasts if they have a C-Band dish antenna and a tuner or if they have access to facilities with satellite receiver equipment.

If used selectively, satellite television provides a viable and effective alternative for efficient delivery of basic and inservice training programs, especially in areas where information must be communicated with consistency and timeliness. …

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