Instructional materials that are classified as visuals can be further subdivided into whether they need electricity for their projection (i.e. projected visuals) or they do not need, that is, non-projected visuals.
Furthermore, the non-projected visuals can be classified into whether they are two-dimensional (that is, they have only two dimensions – length and breadth) or three dimensions – length, breadth, and depth/height.
The latter usually are the real objects while the former are just representations of the real things on paper, cloth, or any such materials.
Audio materials however are usually used for the teaching of languages and to meet objectives that relate to the affective domain.
The third category which is the audio-visuals combines properties of sight and sound, and the most common in this group is videos/films.
These can show motion and therefore are very useful in instructional situations in which the concept or depiction of motion can contribute to the learning process.
Most of these materials have been produced for commercial purposes by experts in different education fields and are available in the market.
However, due to financial constraints, many schools cannot afford to purchase them. Their best alternative then is to produce such instructional materials from local materials.
Use of instruction materials
Many attempts to locally produce instructional materials have not been approached systematically. Therefore at the end of the production, there are various flaws that make them not suitable for use in the classroom.
This is why it is important to consider a systematic approach to the production of instructional materials.
The Systems Approach and Production of Instructional Materials
The six-step process of systems approach proffered in the preceding section fig.4 can be applied to the production of instructional materials.
The producers ask themselves if there is a need. The teacher in considering the topic(s) to be taught, considers all the instructional systems components which include instructional materials to be used (sometimes, it is included in the curriculum and sometimes it is not).
The teacher has to think of what is suitable. It must be noted that all production must start from this needs assessment stage; otherwise, it would be difficult to inculcate any such material that is produced into the instructional setting, during implementation.
At this stage, the teacher orders the needs according to priority, starting with the greatest need to the least.
Most of the time, concentration is based on the greatest needs otherwise the teacher/producer would keep on producing and have no time for the actual implementation. This would now lead to the specification of objectives in this form:
‘’Using instructional material on types of quadrilaterals, the learner should be able to list the different types of quadrilaterals’’.
Having identified the areas that require the need of some learning resources/instructional materials, the next thing to do is to determine what type could be used to aid such learning. For instance, for the example cited in Step 1, the following could be used:
different quadrilaterals made from Styrofoam.
quadrilaterals made from wood.
quadrilaterals made from cardboard.
quadrilaterals made from plastic.
A chart showing different quadrilaterals.
Geoboard and elastic strings.
At this stage, a selection of the most appropriate instructional material is made.
- The background of the learner, that is age, learning style, ability level, learning rate, etc.
- The instructional format. This is the instructional material suitable for small group or individual study, how many would be needed for group or individual study, and so on.
- Teacher’s capability – Would the teacher be able to produce it, or would the teacher get technical assistance for production – infrastructure amenities
- Infrastructural amenities – is there electricity if I need to project, do I have a display board or table? and so on.
All these questions now enable the producer to choose what to produce. If it is going to be mass production of materials, the marketability, acceptance by prospective users/buyers, packaging, and so on would also be looked into.
This is the actual implementation stage. As applied to production, this is the time for the design and then production.
The teacher designs for example, if it is a chart for the graphic artist, if it has to do with wood – the carpenter, if it has to do with metal – the welder, or if it has some electrical parts, the electrician.
There must always be a design (which will include dimensions) before production is embarked on. The teacher then passes it on to the different people as outlined for production.
It is usual to first design a proto-type which may be made of other inexpensive materials apart from the real one to be used) from which the actual material is then produced.
This is the stage where the instructional materials are used and their effect is measured on a small scale. At this stage, a smaller group of the target population is identified (their characteristics must be the same as that of the target).
At this stage, observation is made of how easily the pupils can handle it, how easily they can follow the instructions for usage, how safe it is for the level of users, the durability, and so on.
Apart from these, the effectiveness of the use of learning of the particular objectives is measured or evaluated through tests, questionnaires, interviews, or any other appropriate measures.
This stage is that of Revision of the instructional materials based on the data collected during step five. For example, it may have been discovered that there were sharp edges which injured the pupils while they used the quadrilaterals made from wood, (which the teacher had considered the cheapest and most easily available).
The teacher may now decide on which type of quadrilaterals (made from other materials) might be most suitable for use.
It is after these steps have been concluded that the instructional material can then be systematically integrated into the instructional system, thereby bringing about effectiveness in the whole teaching-learning process.
The Learning Resource Centre
Learning Resource Centre (LRC), Educational Resource Centre (ERC), Instructional Material Centre (IIMC), Educational Technology Centre (ET Centre), Instructional Technology Centre and so on is various terms used for the same thing.
It is the area in a formal education setting used primarily for the storage, supply and utilization of learning resources which have been organized into an integrated collection of materials of all types (print, auditory, visual, kits, games) along with any devices and special settings (for example, carrels) needed to use the materials – AECT (1979).
In essence, an LRC is an environment or a place where a wide range of resources such as books, non-books, printed and graphic materials, audio-visual software and the apparatus needed for their operation; and objects such as models, specimens and so on are stored and made available for teachers and learners to supplement the formal learning that takes place in the classroom.
Functions of the LRC
The LRC is made up of various units which perform the following functions:
The IMC circulates instructional materials and equipment such as in a normal library and others such as pictures, recordings, filmstrip/slides, motion pictures, information/data from computer diskettes, compact discs and so on.
The LRC provides for individual study. The reference materials usually associated with a library such as books, periodicals, encyclopaedias, and indexes are all included.
In addition, facilities must be provided for viewing projected materials and listening to audio recordings.
The LRC provides facilities for the teacher and/or learners to make instructional media. Production facilities which could be provided are mounting facilities
(to mount pictures, drawings etc on different surfaces), facilities for producing messages on transparencies, others are facilities for lettering, colouring, duplicating, copying, photography and so on.
Units within the LRC
To perform the functions as outlined, an LRC must have the following units.
Production Unit (for production of materials)
Instructional Unit (caters to the teachers)
Technical Unit (repairs, servicing general maintenance)
Learner’s Unit (reaching areas, carrels etc)
And Administrative Unit (caters to the welfare of staff)
Organization of LRC
The learning resource Centre can cater for different levels of Education. There could be an LRC within a primary school, secondary school or tertiary institution. Various institutions could also come together to be serviced by a single LRC.
LRCs could also exist at the State and National levels. In Nigeria, at the National level, we have the National Educational Technology Centre (NETC) located in Kaduna.
At the State level, we have an Educational Resource Centre (ERC). At the tertiary institution, there are Centres for Educational Technology (CET) and at the Secondary school level – Learning Resources Centres (LRC).
All these centres perform different roles depending on which levels of education they are geared towards and therefore they are organized differently.