Activity 7 – Team Media Debate

Co-written by Jason Keddie, Alfonso MacGregor, Fiona Prince, Klaus Rimke, and Gavin Sturgeon


Activity 7 of the LRNT523 Foundations of Learning and Technologies course at Royal Roads University asked students to read articles by Richard E. Clark, and Robert B. Kozma. We were then tasked as a group to find four documents that challenge the analysis presented by either Clark or Kozma and subsequently critique and question the claims made by those authors.

According to the Oxford Dictionary (n.d.), ‘Influence’ is defined as “the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something”. Richard E. Clark confidently proclaimed that media will never influence learning since “they are not directly responsible for motivating learning” (1994) yet his argument seems to miss the nuance of the meaning of ‘influence’ as the following articles reveal.

Article 1 (Jason)

Using Media to Motivate and Promote Language Production in the English as a Foreign Language Classroom

Bergeron (2015) asserts that media causes motivation while Clark (1994) contends that media does not cause motivation. Bergeron (2015) begins the overview section of the paper by stating that “the purpose of this paper is to provide a brief overview of how media can be effectively used to motivate” (p. 18). There is a consistent narrative throughout the paper that media are driving improvements in motivation and learning. For example, Bergeron (2015) states that “observation of students’ engagement during the unit of work suggests that the use of media tools…did effectively motivate students” (p. 23). This contrasts with Clark’s (1994) position that “media do not influence learning or motivation” (p. 1). Appropriate use of instructional methods, not media, according to Clark (1994), cause motivation and learning.

Bergeron (2015) also separates media into technical and non-technical categories, defining technical as mostly audio and video while defining non-technical as mostly writings, drawings, or images. According to Bergeron (2015), teachers should familiarize themselves with technical media because it is more effective with today’s learners. Bergeron (2015) does not adequately support the assertion that technical media is superior to non-technical media, and this concept would also contrast with Clark’s (1994) position since Clark believes that media do not influence motivation, which would mean that one form of media cannot influence motivation more than another form of media if neither form of media influences motivation.

Bergeron (2015) focused on the idea that media drives learning and motivation, but to a lesser extent comments on the instructional methods employed with the media. Bergeron (2015) details observing increased motivation and learning with the use of media, but according to Clark these increases in motivation and learning are due to changes in instructional method and not media.

Reading Bergeron’s paper while keeping Clarks assertions in mind, it is easy to see all the instructional methods employed that may be the actual cause of the purported increases in motivation and learning.


Article 2 (Gavin)

Is This the Future of Adult Learning?

In this article, Bennett (2016) outlines three concepts that would improve literacy and earning power of adult learners as discussed at the MIT Media Lab by researchers, adult learning experts, and entrepreneurs. These concepts were: Read Out Loud (literacy improvement), Express Me (mobile learning during commutes), and Citizen Tutoring (provide mentoring opportunities from senior tutors). Each of these concepts incorporates the use of technology media to deliver intuitive and accessible information to adult learners while circumventing barriers of language and time.

By providing an atmosphere of accessibility and inclusivity, the media in Bennett’s article had a profound influential effect on the development of the learner and is in stark contrast to Clark’s argument. For example, Read Out Loud “allows the user to scan any book and view the text in English and any other language side-by-side” (Bennett, 2016) which enabled the parent to read along with their kids; thus, “parents are able to engage in this important part of their children’s education and play the role of teacher, while engaging in learning themselves” (Bennett, 2016). Not only does the children’s literacy improve with this media tool; the adults’ does, too.Improved literacy gives the adult learners additional options to select information integral to employment opportunities and provides “autonomy over improving general skills as well as increasing earning potential” (Bennett, 2016). When a technology provides the motivation to directly impact a person’s ability and desire to learn, develop, and improve their self-worth, that in itself is influence; perhaps Clark will revisit this concept.


Article 3 (Alfonso)

The Effects of High/low Interactive Electronic Storybooks on Elementary School Students’ Reading Motivation, Story Comprehension and Chromatics Concepts.

In order to explore if the media through which content is delivered to learners influences the outcome, Kao et al. (2016) divided a group of 40 fourth-grade students in two groups, and provided them with the exact same reading material.  All students received an e-book; what marked the difference was that one set of books were of low interactivity while the other set was of high interactivity.  High interactivity consisted of having three advanced features that responded to the reader: “guidance”, “prompt”, and “feedback”.

The conclusions of the authors point toward the positive effects that interactivity has as a complement to reading material. This finding is supported by other researchers, such as Ciampa, Grant, and Lewin (as cited in Kao et al., 2016) who stated that motivation and engagement in readers are increased with illustrations, animations, and narrations when those features are congruent with the storyline and content of the e-book.

Article 4 (Klaus)

7 Tech Innovations That are Drastically Changing the Way People Learn

When Clark (1994) wrote that media will never influence learning, did he foresee the invention of the following media and technology, and their use in education? Miller (2017) claims that these seven tech innovations are drastically changing the way people learn because they support experiential learning–learning by doing. In keeping with our team’s focus on ‘influence’, we agree that these innovations do influence learning when thoughtfully included in the instructional design.

  • 3D Printing
    3D-printers are now affordable and easy to use right of the box. One application is to introduce learners to the basics of engineering through hands-on, problem-solving activities.
  • Gamification
    Clear in game rules, objectives and competition in video games such as Minecraft (Educational Edition) increase learner engagement in subjects from history to reading comprehension.
  • Virtual reality
    Interactive virtual reality platforms in classes, such as Biology (imagine dissection without the mess), Engineering, and Architecture allow students to learn through simulations and renderings; Google expeditions has made virtual travel a reality bringing the wonders of the world to a much greater audience.
    Massive open online courses have increased accessibility to learning, allowing anyone with an internet connection to attend classes, even graduate studies. MOOCS are being used in both online and blended delivery models.
  • Skype
    Even though it is a technology originating in 2003, Skype has become a popular media for connecting learners with teachers and tutors , especially for language learning services.
  • Big Data and custom learning
    Algorithms and data tracking are used to guide the development of blended learning programs and give students the ability to customize their learning experience. This has been proven to reduce the dropout rate and increase comprehension. (Now that’s influence!)
  • IPads and Chromebooks A popular piece of tech that has and is immersed in the schools allowing teachers to facilitate rather than manage the learning of the students.

Clark may see these technical innovations as tools that could be replaced by other tools and methods; however, we must consider whether other tools and methods would provide the same level of engagement, motivation, and timeliness for learners.



Bennett, T. (2016, July 10). Is this the future of adult learning? [Blog post]. EdSurge News. Retrieved October 05, 2017, from

Bergeron, S. (2015). Using media to motivate and promote language production in the English as a foreign language classroom. Retrieved from

Clark, R. E. (1994). Media will never influence learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 21-29.

Influence | Definition of influence in English by Oxford dictionaries. (n.d.). Retrieved October 05, 2017, from

Kao, G., Tsai, C., Liu, C., & Yang, C. (2016). The effects of high/low interactive electronic storybooks on elementary school students’ reading motivation, story comprehension and chromatics concepts. Computers & Education, 100, 56-70. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2016.04.013

Kozma, R. B. (1994). Will media influence learning: Reframing the debate. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 7-19.

Miller, L. (2017). 7 tech innovations that are drastically changing the way people learn [Blog post]. Retrieved from