P r o c e s s a n d P r a c t i c e
Program Delivery Methods
One of the unique features of nonformal education is the large array of methods that can be
used for delivering educational programs. Thus the Extension educator has many options that can
be used in structuring effective program delivery systems.
The selection of delivery methods for a program delivery system should be based on the needs
and preferences of the targeted audience and the specific educational purpose. For example, if the
objective is to make the general population aware of some innovation, the delivery system might
employ several mass mediasuch as radio, television, newspapers, and
magazinesor other methods that can be expected to reach large numbers of people. On the
other hand, if the objective is to provide information to targeted clientele who are prepared to test
an innovation, the delivery system should emphasize experiential learning methods. Among the
experiential methods for which Extension clientele have indicated a preference are workshops,
demonstrations, video cassettes, tours, on-farm tests, and field days.
Some delivery methods have multiple uses and can be employed effectively at more than one
stage in a program delivery system. Although some methods may be more useful than others, it
should be recognized that in most cases it will be necessary to employ more than one method to
achieve significant results. Thus when individual methods are selected as components of a
program delivery system, each method should be expected to achieve a purpose in reaching the
overall educational objective. For example, a public assembly could open with a symposium in
which a few knowledgeable individuals provide information during relatively brief consecutive
presentations. Then, if time is available, these individuals could serve as a panel to discuss and
clarify the information presented. An alternative is to provide an open discussion period, or
forum, at the conclusion of the symposium. This discussion period allows members of the
audience to participate and to express their opinions or to ask questions of program participants
or of each other.
Additional supporting information or clarification could be provided by means of fact sheets and
other publications, collaborative analysis of data or results, and other delivery methods that
provide learner reinforcement. The information presented could also be reinforced or clarified by
giving program participants video cassettes and audio cassettes that they can use for home study.
These cassettes could provide the learners opportunities to gain greater understanding of the
information presented and assist them in applying that information to their own situations. In this
example, the methods used are a symposium, forum, panel, fact sheet or other publication,
analysis of data results, videocassettes, and audiocassettes. As demonstrated, adequate planning
combined with creativity in selecting delivery methods provides a systematic design for
effectively providing educational opportunities for our targeted audiences. In choosing methods
to use in a delivery system, be sure to include enough methods to convey the desired content and
accomplish the educational objectives.
A Program Delivery System
A program delivery system is a planned and organized structure of individual program delivery
methods that have been chosen for a specific educational purpose and are appropriately
integrated to accomplish an educational objective. Extensive learning research has consistently
shown that learners need and want to gain some type of experience with new information as well
as to be supported and reinforced in the learning process. In the process of receiving information,
gaining experience with it, and being reinforced in the learning process, learners need to
assimilate or integrate the new information with knowledge they already possess. Thus to
promote effective and efficient learning, a delivery system should include methods, whenever
possible, that (1) provide desired experiential opportunities for the learner, (2) reinforce the
learner, and (3) provide opportunities for the learner to integrate new information with existing
knowledge and skills.
In a program delivery system, the methods considered experiential are those
that allow the learner to gain experience with or to "feel" the information presented.
This experience may occur through physical activity or it may involve the senses, emotions, or
social interaction, depending on the content of the educational program.
Reinforcement delivery methods provide informational, emotional, or social
support for the learner to facilitate learning and enhance or maintain the motivation to continue
in the learning process.
Program delivery methods that provide the learner opportunities to discuss, clarify, or otherwise
gain greater understanding of new information can be classified as integrative
methods. These methods generally provide opportunities for learners to merge new information
with their existing knowledge.
Table 1. Program Delivery Methods in Extension Education
|Audio compact disk
||Home study kit
|Video compact disk
||Audience reaction team
|Analysis of data or results
|| Personal visit
||Leaflet or flier
||Pamphlet or booklet
Table 1 lists delivery methods, divided into four categories: experiential, reinforcement,
integrative, and other. The three initial categories indicate the stage at
which the various delivery methods can be used most effectively in a program delivery system.
The other category lists those methods that are applicable in a wide variety of
systems or that can be used for limited or special situations. Obviously, many of the methods
listed can fit under more than one category. For example, an audiocassette can be designed to
provide experiential opportunities as well as to reinforce the learner. Therefore, the categories in
the table only suggest the best projected use.
To summarize, several factors should be considered when selecting program delivery methods
for a program delivery system. These factors are:
Ultimately, you should select those methods that seem most appropriate and logical for meeting
the educational needs of the targeted audience, and you should make adjustments as needed
based on program evaluations.
- the targeted audience
- the educational objective
- the type and content of the message being provided
- the characteristics of the delivery method
- the method's utility for providing desired learning support
A Glossary of Program Delivery Methods
- Audiocassette recorded audio messages that can be listened to at
the convenience of the learner.
- Videocassette A recording on videotape that can provide both visual and
- Interactive video An electronic system with which the learner can interact
to obtain information through both video and audio means.
- Audio compact disk A small, thin disk used for recording and playing
back large quantities of audio information.
- Video compact disk A small, thin, disk capable of recording and playing
back video and audio information.
- Method demonstration An explanation of how to implement a practice or
accomplish a task by showing a practical application or guiding the learner in carrying out the
- Result demonstration A presentation that shows the effects of a practice
change or task by means of practical application, using visual, experiential, or oral methods; it
usually involves a before-and-after comparison.
- On-farm test A process in which an innovative practice or solution to a
problem is tested on an actual farm todemonstrate its viability or to test its applicability; the test
may employ before-and-after, control-versus-test, or other comparisons.
- Tour Travel by a group of learners to places of defined interest to study
innovations, systems, objects, demonstrations, applied creative programs, or other items that
may be unfamiliar to participants.
- Field day A planned activity of one-day duration in an outdoor setting for
demonstrations; observation of programs, practices, activities, or objects; presentations; or
- Workshop A meeting in which a small group of people with common
interests meet to study or research a specific topic or to practice a specific skill to enhance their
individual knowledge and proficiency.
- Analysis of data or results Evaluation, use, or presentation of new or
existing data to explain or predict the impact of a practice, innovation, input change, or changing
conditions and circumstances.
- Game A simulation or fantasy in which learners explore or experience a
subject, opportunities, or implications.
- Skit A short, planned, rehearsed, dramatic presentation involving two or
more persons designed to present information or illustrate a situation.
- Networking The sharing or exchanging of information through deliberate
action on the part of one or more individuals by means of collaborative linkages with other
individuals, groups, or organizations.
- Role play An exercise in which selected members of a group are assigned
to play specific roles in a hypothetical or simulated situation followed by discussion among all
- Case study A specific and detailed description of an event, situation, or
circumstance that is presented to an audience for study and analysis.
- Fact sheet A publication of six pages or fewer focused on a single subject
or a component of a broader topic that presents instructions, guidelines, or other specific
- Notebook A compilation of fact sheets or other printed information
pertaining to a specific topic.
- Leaflet or flier Brief, concise printed information focused on a specific
program, objective, current event, or other activity and designed to create or enhance
- Pamphlet or booklet A printed publication that provides more
comprehensive information on a subject than a fact sheet, leaflet, or flier.
- Magazine article A means of presenting information to selected audiences
via a printed mass medium. Designed to improve understanding of a subject; often accompanied
by pictures, graphs, and charts for clarity.
- Journal article A means of presenting scientific, theoretical, or
philosophical information in a professional journal.
- Specialty publication article The presentation of information in a
periodical that focuses on a specific discipline, commodity, audience, or subject matter.
- Poster A large, printed sheet intended for display and containing words,
illustrations, or both to provide general or specific information for broad or targeted
- Book A comprehensive, bound publication that usually provides thorough
treatment of a subject or presentation of a story.
- Fax message Printed information electronically transmitted between two
or more points by means of a facsimile machine.
- Computer software A set of instructions, or program, that enables
a computer to be used to provide educational information, to transmit communications, or to aid
in decision making.
- Newsletter A printed instrument developed for a targeted audience that is
intended to provide timely information of current potential interest to the readers.
- Letter A written message intended for a single individual, usually
transmitted in person or by a delivery service such as the U.S. Postal Service or an electronic
- Home study kit A collection of educational materials created or
assembled for independent study on a specific subject.
- Conference A meeting of a large or small group of people having similar
interests for formal presentations to the entire group and for smaller group sessions that focus on
specific components of the general topic.
- Convention An assembly of a large number of people who have similar
interests and who represent subsets of a larger organization. Multiple planned meetings of
subgroups occur simultaneously at least part of the time during the event.
- Seminar A meeting in which a group of people who are studying a
specific subject engage in discussions led by a recognized authority.
- Panel A discussion among a small group of people who are
knowledgeable about a subject conducted in front of an audience. Panel members make no
formal presentation; they exchange ideas through conversation.
- Forum A form of group discussion that allows audience members to
participate. The discussion period may be completely open or restricted to a specific part of the
- Meeting An assembly of people at which information on a topic of
common interest is presented.
- Symposium An assembly in which short presentations are made by a
small number of speakers who are knowledgeable about a particular subject. These presentations
may range from 5 to 20 minutes each.
- Colloquy A gathering at which a panel of individuals discuss a subject in
front of an audience but interact with audience members only when those members wish to ask a
specific question or clarify a point under discussion. When a particular point is resolved, the
organized discussion among panel members continues.
- Dialogue A discussion between two people conducted in front of an
- Institute A planned series of sessions of one or more days each for
in-depth presentations and significant study by individuals who hold similar interests.
- Buzz group A group of five to eight persons who discuss relevant
questions posed by the leader of a larger group assembly.
- Discussion Group An informal meeting of people to discuss a topic of
- Brainstorming A process in which members of an audience are
encouraged to participate by sharing their ideas or suggestions on a subject. No discussion of
each point is allowed until all ideas have been expressed.
- Audience reaction team Three members of the audience preselected to
respond to the information presented by offering a brief summary and interpretation. The team
provides an opportunity for group reaction or response when the audience is large or time is
- Listening team A small group formed from members of an audience
before a presentation and asked to listen for different things in the presentation and then to
discuss or clarify how the information could be applied.
- Interview A face-to-face meeting in which facts and beliefs are elicited or
- Teleconferencing The process by which three or more individuals at
distant locations are connected by two-way audio signals or audio and video signals for the
purpose of exchanging information and ideas.
- Telephone conversation An electronic means for direct sharing of
information between two people at distant locations by voice transmission.
- Computer network The linking of three or more computers for the
purpose of sharing and exchanging information. The linkage may be restricted to the computers
on the local network or may extend to other information sources over a wide area.
- Satellite conferencing A teleconferencing method that uses both audio and
video signals transmitted via cable or satellite for the purpose of conferring, instructing, and
disseminating information among people at distant locations.
- Personal visit A face-to-face exchange of information between two or
more people, usually at the location of the person or persons receiving the information.
- Office visit A face-to-face exchange of information among two or more
people, usually at the location of the information provider.
- Broadcast television A means of providing audio and visual messages to
mass audiences within a broad reception area by means of a central transmitting station and
individual receivers at the location of each audience member.
- Cable television A system in which television signals are distributed
through an electronic cable to those who subscribe to the service, usually restricted to a relatively
small geographic area. This feature makes it possible to transmit information selectively to a
- Radio A means of providing information to mass audiences via sound
messages communicated through a central transmitting station and individual receivers at the
location of each audience member.
- Newspaper A printed periodical publication, usually issued daily or
weekly, that provides information directed to a broad audience within a specific geographical
- Movie (film) The recording of audio and visual images on film in a way
that allows information to be presented in real-life-paced motion.
- Film strip A system for presenting a series of images structured in a
specific order on 35-millimeter film to be projected for viewing by a group.
- Slide-tape presentation A system in which 35-millimeter slides are
projected in synchronization with an audio tape to provide simultaneous audio and visual
- Photograph A print image used to provide visual information.
- Bulletin board A physical medium to which messages can be attached to
provide information to anyone who notices.
- Show An event in which experiences or information is transferred to
specific audiences or to the general public via exhibits, competitions, demonstrations, or other
items or activities.
- Fair A planned event for a large audience for the purpose of exhibiting,
observing, buying, selling, entertaining, educating, or informing.
- Exhibit A display of materials or objects designed to inform.
- Lecture An oral presentation, usually formal in nature, to a group by an
individual highly knowledgeable about the subject.
- Speech A formal presentation of information or opinions by an individual
to a group; it does not necessarily involve any further interaction between the speaker and the
- Teletip message An informative audio message on a single topic accessed
by individuals through the telephone by dialing a toll-free number.
- Church bulletin A means for providing brief printed information to
- Puppet A means of presenting information via the performance of
inanimate fictional characters.
- Comics The use of cartoons to attract attention, create interest, or provide
information. This method is especially useful for special or handicapped audiences.
- Novelty items Presentation of a brief message printed on objects such as
key chains, pencils, canes, caps, cups, or other similar items.
John G. Richardson, Extension SpecialistEducational Programs
David M. Jenkins, Professor, Agricultural and Extension Education
Roger G. Crickenberger, Associate State Leader, Agriculture and Natural Resourses