audiovisual education, educational instruction by means of materials that use the senses of sight and hearing to stimulate and enrich learning experiences. The successful use of motion pictures and other visual aids in the U.S. armed forces during World War II demonstrated the effectiveness of this medium as a tool of instruction. The use of audiovisual materials—formerly confined to maps, graphs, textbook illustrations, and museum and field trips—now includes all the developments of the photographic and film industries as well as radio, sound and videotape recordings, computers, and television.
The field of programmed instruction employs computers and other types of audiovisual teaching machines. Many local school systems in the United States have their own film and videocassette libraries that are often supplemented by films and other media rented from universities and government offices. Business, industry, and government also use audiovisual materials for training and informational purposes.
The growth of educational television and multimedia computer programs has greatly expanded the concept of audiovisual education. In 1952 the Federal Communications Commission reserved the first channels for public educational purposes. The Public Broadcasting Act (1967) set up the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, an independent agency responsible for the distribution and support of educational television programs. With the development of closed-circuit and cable television systems, students were able to receive more specialized programming. The advent of multimedia computer programs made learning even more individualized, as students gained the ability to participate in the creation of their own materials and learning programs.
See D. Hawkridge, New Information Technology in Education (1983); R. Simpson, Effective Audio-Visuals (1987); R. Richards, Classroom Visual Activities (1988); Bowker's Complete Directory of Audio and Video Sources for Children and Young Adults (1990).