On December 20th the U.S. Congress passed the Local Community Radio Act. While it still remains to see what the impact will be on the growth of local, “low power” FM (LPFM) stations in the future, it’s worthwhile to consider how this relates to issues in e-learning and online communication.
Although the internet certainly suffers from information overload, there was never a question that increased participation would actually interfere with other “signals”. In radio, on the other hand, there has long been an argument that LPFM stations were blocking the signals of other stations. As a result, until recently, access to radio bandwidth has been incredibly limited.
The new bill opens up the radio to a whole new set of broadcasters:
- Minorities and women: according to the bill “minorities own only 7 percent of all local television and radio stations. Women represent more than half of the population, but own only 6 percent of all local television and radio stations. LPFM stations, while not a solution to the overall inequalities in minority and female broadcast ownership, provide an additional opportunity for underrepresented communities to operate a station and provide local communities with a greater diversity of viewpoints and culture”
- Speakers of other languages: the bill instructs the FCC to make decisions “based on the needs of the local community”. For areas with significant immigrant populations, this could mean more stations in their native language.
How can radio be harnessed for educational purposes? Some ideas might come from the developing world, where a lack of access to more advanced technologies has meant that radio is still seen as an effective medium for education.
Here are a few articles from the EdITLib digital library that address this topic:
- Jung, I., Dhanarajan, G., Belawati, T. & Malik, N. (2010). ICT-supported distance lifelong education to reach remote and marginalized groups in Asia. In Z. Abas et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of Global Learn Asia Pacific 2010 (pp. 3904-3909). AACE.
- Victor, S. (2010). Instructional Design and the Digital Divide: Some Ethical Considerations. In Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2010 (pp. 4072-4076). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.
- Walker, D. (2000). FM Radio Stations – Broadcasting with the Sun. In J. Bourdeau & R. Heller (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2000 (pp. 1769-1775). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.