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Many educational films shown in schools are part of long series - for example, films demonstrating scientific principles and experiments tend to be episodic, with each episode devoted to a specific experiment or principle.
Many schoolchildren in Britain in the late 1980s and early 1990s watched hundreds of episodes of British-made educational films (all very similar in style and production) over the course of their primary school careers. As a result, the delivery-style and distinctive colour-palette ("scientific" looking neutral-blue backgrounds etc.) of these films is instantly recognisable to any child of the appropriate generation. This was used to great effect by the British television series Look Around You which parodies these films.
Research into the Educational Benefits of Learning from Film and Video
Many early psychological studies of learning from film and particularly TV found this medium to be inferior to text. Studies included comparisons between reading newspaper reports and watching TV news. In these early studies the memory retention was always stronger for those who read the reports. This was shown to be linked mainly to the ability of the individual to control the speed of the delivery of information. When you read you can pause at any time, which was not possible with classroom based TV and Film. This has changed with the advent of online video which can be paused and rewound easily. More recent studies now see no difference in memory retention between the two media, video and text. Research also examines the idea that cognitive overload may occur because the viewer has to process audio and visuals at the same time. Careful design of the film can alleviate this. For instance, signaling clearly where the focus of the audio is in terms of the video image will help the viewer merge the two. However, too much information, or information that is superfluous, can reduce learning. The growth of online video in sites like YouTube has greatly improved the opportunity for the creation, distribution and education of potential learners.
List of notable educational film producers
- Bell System
- Centron Corporation
- Coronet Films
- Sid Davis
- Disney Educational Productions
- Encyclopædia Britannica Films
- Jam Handy
- Media Education Foundation
- James Myer
- National Film Board of Canada
- New Day Films
- Reichsanstalt für Film und Bild in Wissenschaft und Unterricht
- Schlessinger Media
- TIBUS, M., HEIER, A. & SCHWAN, S. 2012. Do Films Make You Learn? Inference Processes in Expository Film Comprehension. Journal of Educational Psychology.
- MERKT, M., WEIGAND, S., HEIER, A. & SCHWAN, S. 2011. Learning with videos vs. learning with print: The role of interactive features. Learning and Instruction, 21, 687-704.
- IBRAHIM, M., ANTONENKO, P. D., GREENWOOD, C. M. & WHEELER, D. 2012. Effects of segmenting, signalling, and weeding on learning from educational video. Learning, Media & Technology, 37, 220-235.
- Devin Orgeron, Marsha Orgeron, and Dan Streible (eds.), Learning with the Lights Off: Educational Film in the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.