Business Television (BTV) - Adaptations for Education

Business television (BTV) is the production and distribution, via satellite, of video programs for closed user group audiences. It often has two-way audio interaction component made through a simple telephone line. It is being used by many industries including brokerage firms, pizza houses, car dealers and delivery services.

BTV is an increasingly popular method of information delivery for corporations and institutions. Private networks, account for about 70 percent of all BTV networks. It is estimated that by the mid-1990s BTV has the potential to grow to a $1.6 billion market in North America with more and more Fortune 1,000 companies getting involved. The increase in use of BTV has been dramatic.

Institution updates, news, training, meetings and other events can be broadcast live to multiple locations. The expertise of the best instructors can be delivered to thousands of people without requiring trainers to go to the site. Information can be disseminated to all employees at once, not just a few at a time. Delivery to the workplace at low cost provides the access to training that has been denied lower level employees. It may be the key to re-training America's work force.

Television has been used to deliver training and information within businesses for more than 40 years. Its recent growth began with the introduction of the video cassette in the early 1970s. Even though most programming is produced for video cassette distribution, business is using BTV to provide efficient delivery of specialized programs via satellite.

The advent of smaller receiving stations - called very small aperture terminals (VSATs) has made private communication networks much more economical to operate. BTV has a number of tangible benefits, such as reducing travel, immediate delivery of time-critical messages, and eliminating cassette duplication and distribution hassles.

The programming on BTV networks is extremely cost-effective compared to seminar fees and downtime for travel. It is an excellent way to get solid and current information very fast. Some people prefer to attend seminars and conferences where they can read, see, hear and ask questions in person. BTV provides yet another piece of the education menu and is another way to provide professional development.

A key advantage is that its format allows viewers to interact with presenters by telephone, enabling viewers to become a part of the program. The satellite effectively places people in the same room, so that sales personnel in the field can learn about new products at the same time. Speed of transmission may well be the competitive edge which some firms need as they introduce new products and services. BTV enables employees in many locations to focus on common problems or issues that might develop into crises without quick communication and resolution.

BTV networks transmit information every business day on a broad range of topics, and provide instructional courses on various products, market trends, selling and motivation. Networks give subscribers the tools to apply the information they have to real world situations.

Educational Adaptation of BTV

The concept of BTV can be used by educational institutions in several ways. An institution with multiple sites can create its own network and deliver information as needed. The information can be administrative or it can be training for administrators and faculty.

A second adaptation is to use the BTV networks that are already in place to deliver educational credit and non-programming directly to the workplace.

For institutions involved in literacy training, this opens an alternative route to reach workers who need basic skills, GED or ESL programs. Because this is effectively a new outreach program reaching a new audience, it represents a new source of income for the educational system.

For institutions involved in contract and continuing education, seminars can be created for business and industry and delivered to the workers at a number of work sites. For many educational institutions, this will represent a new source of income.

Many other educational institutions regularly originate educational programming delivered via satellite. These programs can be received for the cost of a site reception fee which may be free in some cases, or cost up to $1,000. An average price is about $450 per site. Some of these programs are created specifically for educators and cover a wide variety of subjects which are suitable as in-service training for staff and faculty. When they are offered with a local component, they may provide a cost effective method by which training and in-service can be provided.

When a number of sites belonging to the same organization receive the program, group fees may reduce the cost per site to as little as $50.

from "The Distance Learning Technology Resource Guide," by Carla Lane