Are Distance Learning Programs Effective?
Read the following
article that appeared in
Black Belt Magazine:
CAN YOUR VCR TEACH
YOU TECHNIQUES AS WELL
AS LIVING, BREATHING HUMAN BEINGS?
BOBBY NEWMAN PH.D.
In recent years there's been a boom in the sales of videotapes designed to teach
certain skill sets to viewers. As soon as video was determined to be an effective teaching tool, forward thinking
martial artists entered the fray and began churning out volume after volume covering every style imaginable. It has become
big business. Up to 35 percent of the ads in Black Belt offer some form of videotaped instruction. They represent an almost
endless parade of styles and instructors, with individual tapes costing as much as $60 and complete sets selling for $500
or more. Despite the popularity of martial arts instructional tapes, no study of their effectiveness has
been performed. Until now. In a quest for hard evidence, three subjects with no martial arts experience were selected to participate
in an experiment. These are the results.
The subjects were three women, all of whom were in their 20s and in good health.
They were tasked with learn- 10 kenpo karate techniques. For some techniques, the mode of instruction was one-on-one training
with a certified personal trainer who holds a black belt in the art. For others, it was by videotape.
All the techniques were taught on the same
day. Two of the students learned in their homes, while the third learned in a commercial martial arts facility. Before each
session, they were told to stretch their muscles and perform calisthenics. Then the training commenced.
Each live technique was performed three times by the instructor. Then the students practiced it with the instructor as the
partner until they could execute it proficiently.
Each video-based technique
was viewed three times. Then the students practiced it with the instructor, but he merely served as the attacker. He did not
make corrections or offer advice.
The study determined that all three students
were able to effectively perform each technique for the instructor in fewer than 10 attempts. No systematic differences between
the two methods of instruction were evident. The subjects appeared to learn the techniques equally well from either source.
The tapes, however, imparted the skills at a much lower cost to the students.
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