t-learning Study – A study into TV-based interactive learning to the home
Final Report – Key Highlights


The final report of the t-learning Study completed in 2003 provided a “state of art” global survey and analysis of the issues concerning the development of digital TV-based interactive learning in the home. It tackled the issues from three perspectives: –

  • Learning in the home
  • Technology solutions as enablers
  • Market developments

Large-scale technology enhanced learning in the home will be dependent on the market developing consumer devices that are affordable and are easy to use. Understanding is required of the type of learning resources and the way people learn in the home, in order for appropriate services to be developed. Services are also dependent on the availability of the technology solutions that facilitate such developments. It is important that all three of these components are considered together if a wide range sustainable and replicable learning services are to be developed in the home.

This report aims to raise awareness and provide a point of reference for the range of existing developments and future possibilities for TV-based learning – “t-learning”. It draws conclusions based on the research conducted during the study. It then makes recommendations for European policy and decision makers in education and training, broadcasters, service providers and other key players as to likely and possible ways forward for the development and utilisation of interactive digital TV solutions for increasing learning opportunities into the home.

Key Conclusions

  1. Overall, the study has identified that there is a big potential for utilising the various interactive digital TV solutions for increasing learning opportunities in the home, particularly as an alternative solution to utilising an Internet-enabled computer.
  2. Once policy and decision-makers have become aware of the potential that such solutions might offer, consideration is starting to be given to their utilisation particularly when addressing issues like widening participation to learning and overcoming the digital divide.
  3. The biggest potential for utilising interactive digital TV solutions in the medium to long term is likely to be through personalised TV developments as sustainable and replicable models emerge from early pioneering developments.
  4. Unfortunately, despite there being more than 25 years of experience using educational broadcasting there is still limited pedagogical research for early pioneering developments to draw upon to help understand how best learners may learn through this medium. There is also limited research addressing interactivity and learning to draw upon from other e-learning developments.
  5. Creating a demand for interactive digital TV learning service has to be based around the development of a sustainable model particularly when the service utilises consumer-based devices.
  6. The study has established a framework for a number of potential sustainable models, that when developed must also be assessed as to whether they are also pedagogically sound.
  7. The development of any learning service must consider jointly – technology solutions, the development of sustainable models and pedagogical issues.
  8. This study has identified many existing and emerging consumer-based interactive digital TV technology solutions. It has also identified potential sustainable models for the development of learning services, but there is still a need for further market research.
  9. However, the study has found limited existing pedagogical research to draw upon. This does need to be addressed as services develop, but cannot be done in isolation, as there is little point in identifying pedagogical sound services that are just unsustainable within the consumer-orientated market place.

Key Recommendations

  1. When developing a broadband strategy, governments should include interactive digital TV within that strategy.
  2. When developing an e-learning strategy governments and other agencies should consider the role of interactive digital TV solutions within that strategy.
  3. Traditional educational broadcasters and those in mainstream education and training need to work more closely in order to decide the most appropriate way forward for the utilisation of the range of interactive digital TV technology solutions that are starting to emerge.
  4. Generally the focus should be on solutions that offer more personalised TV rather than broadcast/scheduled TV. There appear to be more opportunities for more personalised learning through these developments.
  5. There is a need to establish a number of pilot projects utilising personal video recorders and content-on-demand type services through Broadband TV to order to test out how these means could increase access to learning opportunities in the home.
  6. Broadcasters and interactive content developers should work with learning providers in order to find ways of utilising the “powerful medium” available through broadcast TV and associated interactive services to provide “hooks” to draw viewers into active learning environments.
  7. Encouragement should be given to content developers to produce digital content that will work with the full range of digital delivery technologies.

The Executive Summary and the Final t-learning Report are available as well as all the Annexes –

The full report was written by Peter J. Bates, pjb Associates, UK with funding from the European Community under the IST Programme (1998-2002)

Peter Bates can be contacted at pjb Associates, 52 St Andrews Way, Ely, Cambridgeshire United Kingdom Tel +44 1353 667973 Email learn@pjb.co.uk