Background and rationale
Streaming media and multicasting technology currently considerably enhances the use of the Internet. Media on demand solutions and interactive educational broadcasting and multicasting-on-demand are emerging technologies with huge potential for education.
A growing number of schools in Europe will soon have broadband access to the internet, enabling them to take advantage of multimedia resources and new interactive learning methods. The use of multimedia resources in classroom teaching will have an impact on the way teachers prepare lessons, which in turn, will modify the lessons themselves.
There will be, for example, an expected move towards the interactive use of multimedia content by students on individual screens instead of passive consumption by the whole class. Integration of broadband technology with learner interactivity (for example by the provision of a return channel) may lead to increased acceptance and improved efficiency of eLearning projects.
The eEurope Action plan, and in particular the eLearning Action plan clearly state that the integration of ICT and multimedia in teaching and learning is a Europeanwide political priority in the next years.
There is a need to gather more insight into the educational impact of streaming media and broadcasting technology. Media education and the training of teachers in using multimedia resources effectively, will be crucial in order to make successful use of digital media in classrooms.
Teachers need to discover by themselves how these emerging technologies can really enhance the learning process and improve eLearning in their daily practise; education policy makers and pedagogical experts need to be able to plan the deployment of these and technology advances where appropriate, and develop new methodologies so that they incorporate them into everyday teaching practices; educational media developers and multimedia producers need to understand better how their materials can be used effectively in the learning process.
To meet the different needs of all stakeholders, there is a real need for research based concrete case studies, guidelines and training modules. Expensive development projects aiming at testing and evaluating the educational use of streaming media and broadcasting technology are currently funded in various European countries.
There is considerable effort in creating multimedia archives at a national level. The sharing of experiences and good practise, the exploration of possibilities to link European multimedia archives and, where possible, the common use of transnational interactive broadcasting and multicasting facilities will enhance a more widespread and thus cost-effective use of these emerging technologies for educational and organisational tasks in school education and support the European dimension in school education.