Specific Critical Issue – Continuing Research

As stated in my last blog post, the critical issue I have chosen is how podcasts affect student learning when assigned as a ‘primer’ for lectures (i.e. primer podcasts).  Like my teammates, I was drawn to the accessibility of this technology and its promise as a blended learning tool.


A more detailed literature review has unearthed many relevant resources, though few that reference primer podcasts.   To date, the most relevant study continues to that by Popova, Kirschner, and Joiner (2013), who investigated the effect of primer podcasts on stimulating learning in the eyes of students.  By contrast, research on the use of podcasts in blended learning applications has been plentiful and enlightening.  Many outline the benefits of podcast use, such as accessibility for both learners and content producers (Brookes, M. 2010, as well as the risks, such as learner and instructor dependency (Goldman, 2018).

Can podcasts compete?

One of my concerns when exploring podcasts as a blended learning tool was that they would deliver substandard results when compared with other more sophisticated tools like MOOCs.  However, many studies convincingly contend that learning modality is unimportant so long as learning design is strong (Thalheimer, 2018).  So, it is critical that podcasts are part of a learning toolkit that incorporates learning methods that are not common – or in some cases, not possible – in podcasts alone, such as spaced repetition and realistic practice.  That said, podcasts are often rich with real-world context, which is an oft-cited component of effective learning design (Thalheimer, 2018)

How have you incorporated podcasts in your toolkit? I would love to hear about your experiences.



Bauder, D., & Ender, K. (2016). Using Multimedia Solutions for Accessing the Curriculum Through a UDL Lens. 1134–1139. https://www.learntechlib.org/primary/p/173088/

Berlanger, Y. (2005) Duke university iPod first year experience final evaluation    http://cit.duke.edu/pdf/reports/ipod_initiative_04_05.pdf

Brookes, M. (2010). An evaluation of the impact of formative feedback podcasts on the student learning experience. Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport & Tourism Education (Oxford Brookes University), 9(1), 53–64. https://doi-org.libresources2.sait.ab.ca/10.3794/johlste.91.238

Chester, A., Buntine, A., Hammond, K., & Atkinson, L. (2011). Podcasting in Education: Student Attitudes, Behaviour and Self-Efficacy. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 14(2), 236–247.

Edirisingha, P., & Salmon, G. (2007). Pedagogical models for podcasts in higher education. figshare. Conference contribution. https://hdl.handle.net/2381/405

Fang, W. (2019, December 24). Why Do People Listen to Podcasts in 2020? Retrieved from https://www.listennotes.com/podcast-academy/why-do-people-listen-to-podcasts-in-2020-5/

Goldman, T. (2018). The impact of podcasts in education.  Santa Clara University. Advanced Writing: Pop Culture Intersections, 29. Available at: https://scholarcommons.scu.edu/engl_176/29?utm_source=scholarcommons.scu.edu/engl_176/29&utm_medium=PDF&utm_campaign=PDFCoverPages

Hew, K. F. (2009). Use of audio podcast in K-12 and higher education: A review of research topics and methodologies. Educational Technology Research and Development, 57(3), 333-357. http://sttechnology.pbworks.com/f/Hew_(2008)_Use%2520of%2520Audio%2520Podcast%2520in%2520K-12%2520and%2520Higher%2520Education.pdf

McLoughlin, C., & Lee, M. (2007). Listen and learn: A systematic review of the evidence that podcasting supports learning in higher education. In C. Montgomerie & J. Seale (Eds.), Proceedings of World Use of audio podcast in K-12 and higher education 355 123 Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2007 (pp. 1669–1677). Chesapeake, VA: AACE

Meyer, A., Rose, D.H., & Gordon, D. (2014). Universal design for learning: Theory and Practice. Wakefield, MA: CAST Professional Publishing.

Parson, V., Reddy, P., Wood, J., & Senior, C. (2009) Educating an iPod generation: undergraduate attitudes, experiences and understanding of vodcast and podcast use, Learning, Media and Technology, 34:3, 215-228, DOI: 10.1080/17439880903141497

Popova, A., Kirschner, P. A., & Joiner, R. (2014). Effects of primer podcasts on stimulating learning from lectures: how do students engage? British Journal of Educational Technology, 45(2), 330–339.

Pratt, S. (2019, January 30). 13 Predictions for Podcasting in 2019. Retrieved from https://blog.pacific-content.com/13-predictions-for-podcasting-in-2019-d52e7ed536ed

Thalheimer, W. (2017). Does elearning work? What the scientific research says! Available at http://www.work-learning.com/catalog.html


Personal Leadership – A Reflection

My team has spent the better part of three years trying to figure out the most important leadership competencies (i.e. knowledge, skills, abilities, and other attributes) in today’s volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (A.K.A. “VUCA”) environment. After conducting extensive primary and secondary research, we were able to isolate the five “elements” of effective leadership: Be Planful, Learn to Learn, Distribute Leadership, Activate Networks, and Incorporate Influence. In combination, we refer to these elements as Integrated Leadership.

The elements of Integrated Leadership seemed a good place to start when deciding on the most important attributes of a leader operating in a digital environment. Before I get into my selections, I should give a quick explanation of each element of Integrated Leadership (McLean & Company, 2016):

  • Be Planful – adequately plan for interactions (e.g. one-on-ones, meetings) and projects and always take time to reflect on your decisions (successes and failures)
  • Learn to Learn – always question your assumptions and seek feedback
  • Distribute Leadership –  assign work based on competence and/or development opportunities (be willing to delegate high-value work)
  • Activate Networks – use your networks to create value for yourself and others (e.g. connect people in your network who could benefit from knowing one another)
  • Incorporate Influence – use influence to affect actions and outcomes beyond your direct control

In considering the most important attributes of a leader in a digital learning environment, it occurred to me that although all the elements of Integrated Leadership are important – some even show up in different language in academic literature (e.g. Khan, 2017, says “Adaptive leaders recognize the best solution to address problems based on current realities rather than actions based on the past” (p.180), which is the heart of Learn to Learn) – there is a gap related to digital leadership: communication and interpersonal effectiveness. In order to achieve success, digital leaders must embrace bi-directional, real-time communication with all stakeholders (Sheninger, 2014), as well as be transparent, engage in active listening, and have an “open door policy” (Castelli, 2016, p.222). Further, they should engage in emotionally supportive communication as this drives credibility among followers (Cameron, 2012, as cited in Castelli, 2016).

My personal approach to leadership has been primarily based on the Integrated Leadership model for several years now, though I also value and focus on clear, consistent communication. As my team members are geographically dispersed, digital technologies are the foundation of our communication; they enable us to keep our projects on track and generally help us to feel connected to one another personally. One change to my leadership approach when communicating primarily through technology is to schedule check-ins regularly as we don’t have the benefit of impromptu interactions that occur naturally in a shared office environment.

In considering the leadership theories that work best in leading change within digital learning environments, two came to mind: Reflective leadership and Adaptive leadership. Reflective leadership is ”the consistent practice of reflection, which involves conscious awareness of behaviours, situations and consequences with the goal of improving organizational performance” (Castelli, 2016). The practice of reflection helps leaders to “make sense of uncertain, unique, or conflicted situations” (De Dea Roglio and Light, 2009, p.217, as cited in Castelli, 2016) – in other words, to lead through change. The act of reflection itself can reveal an organization’s optimal course of action (Castelli, 2016). Adaptive leadership, by contrast, is focused on identifying potential changes in the external environment and considering the best path for the organization in each scenario (Khan, 2017). As such, “Adaptive leadership allows institutions to properly plan for change and consider many factors affecting the complex nature of the leadership relationship. … Adaptive leaders recognize the best solution to address problems based on current realities rather than actions based on the past..” (Khan, 2017, p.179-180). In combination, these two approaches can serve leaders well when leading through change.

In addition to these theories, leaders can consider digital leadership: “establishing direction, influencing others, and initiating sustainable change through the access of information, and establishing relationships in order to anticipate changes pivotal to school success in the future” (Sheninger, p.2). By addressing each of the seven pillars of digital leadership identified by Sheninger, including Communication and Re-envisioning Learning Spaces and Environments, leaders can create “sustainable change in programs, instruction, behaviours, and leadership practices, with technology as a pivotal element” (p.2).

In summary, there are many competencies (e.g. attributes) that make a leader successful in a digital environment and many theories to help them lead through change. To my mind, a focus on communication and empathy, as well as a commitment to planning and reflection, are key.



Castelli, P. (2016). Reflective leadership review: a framework for improving organisational performanceJournal of Management Development35(2), 217-236.

Khan, N. (2017). Adaptive or Transactional Leadership in Current Higher Education: A Brief Comparison. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning18(3).

McLean & Company (2016). Integrated Leadership. Retrieved from: https://hr.mcleanco.com/research/ss/integrated-leadership

Sheninger, E. (2014). Pillars of digital leadership. International Centre for Leadership in Education.

LRNT 524 – Activity 4

For this activity, we were tasked with placing our innovation along a continuum from renewal to new. Here is a brief commentary on where my learning reinforcement innovation lies:

Rarely are innovations truly unique – rather they build upon practices that came before. In my context, where we are relatively new to the learning space and leadership development, this is especially true; rather than truly innovating, we are often looking to identify and implement best practices which have been tried out by many organizations before us. This is true in the case of learning reinforcements, though we hope to discover ways to differentiate ourselves over time.

RENEWAL ←————-*——————————————————->  NEW

LRNT 524 – Activity 3

For this activity, we were asked to develop design principles that can be used to improve learning in our context. You will find a draft of my first five principles below. Comments and suggestions welcome.


I. Right-Sized Reinforcement

The right amount, type, and delivery of learning reinforcement vary depending on content and context, not to mention individual user characteristics. Although bite-sized content – or microlearning – may be the best choice in many situations, it won’t always be suitable. As such, our reinforcement design will be suited to the content it is meant to reinforce, with complex, multifaceted concepts receiving more attention in both in-person sessions and reinforcement material. This means all design guidelines will need to be flexible.

II. Focused on Core Concepts

Our leadership programs will focus exclusively on core concepts and their reinforcement; if it doesn’t add value to the primary aims of the training/development, it will be excluded (save for a humour break here and there). Learning reinforcements will focus on:

  1. Strengthening learner competencies (i.e. knowledge, skills, abilities, and other attributes) and/or
  2. Helping learners apply competencies (e.g. through discussions, debate, case studies, simulations, etc.).

III. Well-Designed

In addition to the content, the look and feel of the learning reinforcements are critical to attracting and maintaining user engagement. We must pay close attention to the aesthetics of the learning reinforcement material – and later to the design of the user experience (UX) in the Integrated Learning Experience Platform (ILEP). 

IV. Applicable for a Broad Audience

As our learners come from all different industries, organizations, and roles, it is critical that our content is generalizable. In other words, learners must be able to apply learnitointo their day-to-day work. This is a critical design principle and one that is reflected in our Research department tagline: “Research that is practical and tactical”. Learning reinforcements are no exception: they must offer learners an opportunity to apply core concepts into their context and offer them help in doing so, both through the material design and additional support (e.g. analyst or coaching calls).

V. Built with Learner Differences in Mind

Learners will learn at different paces and learning reinforcement material should be designed with this in mind. Initial reinforcement material should be recommended for all learners and include the most impactful examples, background information, insights, and activities. Additional reinforcement material for the same concept should provide further support material, with the best illustrations and activities always taking priority in line. This allows learners who are more familiar with core concepts to get the most out of shorter engagement with the material and the self-pacing also gives them a sense of autonomy (both of which are components of adult learning principles).

LRNT 524 – Activity 2 Part 2

For this activity, we were asked to build a case using the case framework. Below is a draft of the framework. All comments and suggestions welcome.

I. Title – used to introduce the reader to what this case is a case of.

  • Keywords: e-learning, digital learning environments (DLE), learning/training reinforcement, learning/training reinforcement and virtual/online, microlearning, content reinforcement
  • Working title options:
    • Designing learning reinforcement material for a remote leadership development program
    • Effectively reinforce key learning concepts at a distance

II. Quote positions your case within a broader human experience. Could be a quote taken from a range of sources (i.e., historical figure, common knowledge, participant in the case, etc.)

  • Change might not be fast and it isn’t always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped.”  – Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
  • We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. – Will Durant (paraphrasing Aristotle)

III. Introduction – several paragraphs that help the reader to understand why the case under study is important and has significance to the organization in which the case is situated. The introduction also explains the underlying issues inherent in the case and shares any required background information.

  • Why the case is important
    • The learning solutions division of Info-Tech Research Group is focused on delivering learning solutions for member organizations in two areas: functional content for Information Technology departments (e.g. cybersecurity risk assessment, hardware asset management, helpdesk optimization) and leadership content (i.e. entry-level, mid-level, and executive-level). In order to fulfill our mandate of building the competencies (i.e. knowledge, skills, abilities, and other attributes) of our member base, we must not only deliver world-class content, we must ensure it becomes knowledge and translates into lasting behavioral change. In order to ensure retention and drive behavioral change, we must help our members reinforce core concepts after the initial learning event.
      • Our leadership development programs all involve a week-long on-site component where learners are exposed to, and practice, core concepts through lecture, dialogue with instructors and peers, and targeted activities. After the experience is over, only those learners who have signed on for additional coaching are engaged in any learning reinforcement, and even then it is targeted to their development plan rather than broad concept reinforcement.
    • The reinforcement of learning is critical to learning retention and application.
      • This is a particularly important activity in light of Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve which hypothesizes the decline of memory retention in time when there is no attempt to retain it. A typical graph of the forgetting curve purports to show that humans tend to halve their memory of newly learned knowledge in a matter of days or weeks unless they consciously review the learned material. (http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Ebbinghaus/index.htm ). From his discovery regarding the “forgetting curve”, Ebbinghaus came up with the effects of “overlearning”. Essentially, if you practiced something more than what is usually necessary to memorize it, you would have effectively achieved overlearning. Overlearning ensures that information is more impervious to being lost or forgotten, and the forgetting curve for this overlearned material is shallower. (http://users.ipfw.edu/abbott/120/Ebbinghaus.html )
      • Aligns with principles of adult learning
    • Member companies will see behavior changes in their attending employees
    • Member companies will realize measurable improvements in productivity and/or profitability
    • Findings are generalizable to anyone interesting in online/virtual (or distance) learning reinforcement for any type of training
  • Why it is significant to the organization
    • Opportunity for significant revenue generation in a profitable market segment (driving both repeat and new business through demonstrated value)
    • Ability to help members improve leadership in their organizations – thereby helping them to increase employee engagement, increase organizational commitment (i.e. increase employee retention / reduce turnover), and aid in talent attraction
    • Potential to build upon this model and offer fully virtual/distance leadership development in the future (which would likley have a much better ROI than the on-site delivery model, even virtual participants paid a lower price)
    • RISK: If the reinforcements are poorly designed or delivered, we risk alienating (or at least boring or disengaging) members we have worked hard to build a trusted partnership with. In the absence of a robust and well-conceived offering, the risk may be too great to justify launch. In other words, nothing may be better than something ill-conceived or ill-designed.
  • Underlying issues
    • Resource Constraints
      • One complicating issue is that the current content development team in the Learning Solutions division is fully utilized with work associated with on-site delivery and the proposed task is labour-intensive, as learning reinforcement must be composed of examples, background information, and insights not previously shared in order to engage the learner, drive deeper understanding, and motivate behavior change. In other words, this undertaking requires net new content builds that can only use existing content as a foundation. In order to justify task reprioritization for the current content development team and/or the borrowing or hire of additional human resources, secondary research will need to support the importance of reinforcement material moving beyond a restatement of previously delivered content.
      • We need to establish a time estimate for each learning module. If we estimate the time to develop to be 1 week per 1 hour of content and we assume reinforcement is given the same time as delivery per module, then we need to complete roughly 32 hours worth of reinforcement content per leadership product. If we were to focus solely on the two core products this calendar year, that translates into 64 weeks worth of labour.
    • Time constraints
      • No set time constraints, though we would like to have a project plan by the end of FY2017/2018 which is July 31, 2018.
  • Required background information
    • Content contained in the leadership solutions modules are constantly evolving in response to changing political, economic, social, environmental, and legal (PESTL) conditions; as well as primary and secondary research which unearths new insights. Time-to-completion estimates and timelines should take this into account – particularly when undertaking medium to long-range planning.

IV. Case Narrative – shares the story of the case and the evidence.  This section is descriptive and forms the bulk of the case.  It could include charts, pictures, graphics, statistics, etc.

  • Who: Our learners are all leaders, most of whom are time-constrained. To capture their attention and time, the value of the reinforcement must be clear
  • What: Learning reinforcements must be clear, engaging, connected to core concepts (but not repeated), etc.
  • When: Learning reinforcements will be scheduled for bi-weekly or monthly distribution for 6 months following the in-person session. However, all content will remain accessible to the participant for a period of 1 year from their last enrolment in an ITRG leadership program (i.e. on-site program and/or coaching).
  • Where: reinforcement material will be delivered online through the ITA portal (later the Integrated Learning Experience Platform)
  • Why: As ITRG has decided to offer leadership development as part of its product and service line, it is critical that learning reinforcement be offered to ensure learning retention and behavioral change – two of the stated benefits of program participation.
  • How: Learners will use either computers or mobile devices to access the learning reinforcement content, which will be housed on ITA until the more robust ILEP is launched.

V. Discussion – analyzes the case narrative and helps the reader to understand the learning environment innovation from either a new or renewed perspective

  • This is an innovation for ITRG, rather than the learning industry. As such, ITRG will benefit from robust research on both online delivery and learning retention.
  • The challenge will be find the right amount of content for each reinforcement chunk – enough to help engrain the learning without overburdening participants. If the latter happens, we could get drop off. (Note: we must consider cognitive load during design)

VI. Questions prompts for the readers to consider or questions for the readers to answer for the case writer to help move the case forward or further develop the situation described in the case

  • How can we reduce cognitive load on learners?
  • How can we track usage and engage uninterested or disinterested learners?
  • How much reinforcement content should be provided? Over what time horizon?
  • What content should be delivered in what way?
  • How will we measure success? How will participants/learners measure success? How will decision makers (i.e. purchasers – often the participant’s boss) measure success?
  • What can we measure the effectiveness of learning reinforcements?



LRNT524 – Activity 2

For this activity, we were asked to identify two new or renewed learning practices in our professional context. In my role as Director of Learning Solutions at Info-Tech Research Group (hereafter referred to as ITRG), my team is tasked with developing commercial learning products for our member organizations. Two innovations we have been investigating over the past year are:

I. Integrated Learning Experience Platform

In 2017, ITRG launched a video learning library for research content videos (i.e. focused on core Information Technology products and processes) called Info-Tech Academy (ITA). At present, ITA consists of videos of analysts discussing their taxonomy/research areas and accompanying quizzes. The Learning Solutions team would like to expand upon the offerings in ITA and create a robust Integrated Learning Experience Platform for both functionally-focused and leadership-focused content. Our draft plan is to:

  1. Add leadership-focused content to ITA that highlights core program concepts for the benefit of all our members (rather than solely those who enrol in the leadership programs)
  2. Create a portal with diagnostic functionality, including 360° feedback functionality and psychometric assessments
  3. Create alumni networks in the portal or establish links to an externally-based network (e.g. LinkedIn)
  4. Build additional content and functionality in support of program content
    Learning reinforcement material – i.e. content and activities (including quizzes)
    Functionality that allows members to ask questions related to the leadership content
    Functionality that allows members to book analyst/coaching calls
  5. Help our research partners focused on taxonomy/research areas to develop more robust offerings within the portal (e.g. additional content and functionality, forums, et cetera.)

II. Online Learning Reinforcement

In order to ensure that the content in our week-long on-site leadership development programs are well-understood and translate into behavioural change, we must provide learners with materials and activities that reinforce core concepts. We will begin by researching best practices in distance learning reinforcement and then produce design principles, templates, and guidelines for our content developers. (Note: Learning reinforcement material is a core element of the Learning Solutions Portal – 4a above)

And the Winner is …

I will be focusing on Online Learning Reinforcement Material because of its criticality to program success. Also, as this is a core element of the Integrated Learning Experience Platform (4a in #1), it is a logical first step.


Hi everyone,

You can find our team’s post on Angie’s blog here: https://malat-webspace.royalroads.ca/rru0003/.




Lessons from the Past

I) Background on my role

As some of you know, I work as a content development lead in a management and consultancy firm. My primary responsibility is to oversee the development of commercial L&D products and services.

II) Germane Lessons

a) Formative and Summative Evaluation

Reiser (2001b) describes a systematic approach to solving educational problems called Programmed Instruction (PI), a term which was likely coined in a 1954 paper by B.F. Skinner entitled “The Science of Learning and the Art of Teaching” (Lockee, Moore, & Burton, 2004). Programmed Instruction is a process that involves an assessment of the educational materials’ effectiveness, the identification of any deficiencies, and the revision of the materials to correct identified deficiencies either prior to or during design (Reiser, 2001b); a process referred to today as formative evaluation. The term formative evaluation comes from work by Michael Scriven in 1967 that highlights the need for instructional materials to be tested with learners while still in draft form (i.e. formative), rather than after they are in final form (i.e. summative) (Reiser, 2001b).

In my experience, formative evaluation is common in the management consulting sector, where timelines are tight and “agile” management practices dominate. Indeed, a cursory examination of recent research suggests that formative evaluation continues to be an oft-used and impactful form of evaluation, and has a proven positive impact on summative evaluation results (Alsalhanie, Das, & Abdus-Samad, 2017).

  1. b) Rapid Prototyping

In his discussion of 1990’s trends in instructional design, Reiser mentions the rise of rapid prototyping, a cycle of trial and error that continues until a minimum viable product is produced (2001b).

This approach to developing instructional materials is one we use often at ITRG, as it is believed to be both more efficient and more effective. Indeed, it gives us the opportunity to identify deficiencies early, before time and/or the opportunity for correction/optimization are lost (often due to an impending, immovable deadline).

  1. c) New Tools + Old Practices

In his keynote speeches “The History of the Future of Ed-Tech” (2014a) and “Un-fathomable: The Hidden History of Ed-Tech” (2014b), Watters describes a tension between new tools and old practices. This tension is illustrated by the all-too-common inclination to put course materials designed for in-person instruction online and view it as an online course, which Watters rebukes Khan Academy for doing in their video “The History of Education” (2014b, p.3). Watters also offers the following simple illustration of the tension: “It’s simple to introduce iPads into the classroom, for example. It’s much more difficult to use them to do entirely new things, particularly things that run counter to how classrooms have operated in the past” (2014, p.3).

This tension is all too familiar, as many individuals not acquainted with Ed-Tech research assume that materials developed for in-person instruction should be equally effective, without modification, in a digital environment. It continues to be a part of my job to discuss the drawbacks of this repurposing with both internal and external stakeholders.

Reiser’s Relevance

At the start of the 21st century, Reiser (2001a; 2001b) advocated a change from the term “instructional technology” to “instructional design and technology” (IDT) as a result of the growth of new practices (instructional design and media employed for instructional purposes) and the associations individuals have with the term technology, namely that it is commonly associated with hardware, software, or physical systems (e.g. computers, overheads) alone. Since 2001, both instructional design and the use of media for instructional purposes have continued to grow, and the myopic view of the term technology has continued (at least outside of the IDT field), offering support to Reiser’s contention that the term IDT more aptly communicates the character of the field.

Reiser also offers insight into the human tendency to take an unjustifiably rosy view of the future when he highlights that people have historically predicted that “new” (at any given time) media will have a dramatic effect on instructional practices; actual effects have been reliably less remarkable than anticipated (2001a). He goes on to make a similar prediction with regard to digital media: “over the next decade, computers, the Internet, and other digital media will bring about greater changes in instructional practices than the media that preceded them” (2001a, p.62). It seems that this bore out, as over a decade later, Bates (2014) states “what distinguished the digital age from all previous ages is the rapid pace of technology development and our immersion in technology-based activities in our daily lives. Thus it is fair to describe the impact of the Internet on education as a paradigm shift…” (2014, p.5).



Alsalhanie1, K.M., Das, S., Abdus-Samad, S. (2017). Formative evaluation impacting the results of summative evaluation – a feedback based cross-sectional study carried out among instructors of an international medical school. International Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, 5(7), 2865-2869. http://www.msjonline.org/index.php/ijrms/article/viewFile/3350/3061

Lockee, B., Moore, D., & Burton, J. (2004). Foundations of Programmed Instruction. In D. H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of research on educational communications and technology (pp. 545–569). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. http://www.aect.org/edtech/20.pdf

Reiser, R. A. (2001). A history of instructional design and technology: Part I: A history of instructional media. Educational Technology Research and Development49(1), 53-64.

Reiser, R. A. (2001). A history of instructional design and technology: Part II: A history of instructional design. Educational Technology Research and Development49(2), 57-67.

Watters, A. (2014). The History of the Future of Ed-Tech, Chapter 1. In The monsters of education technology. Licensed under the Creative Commons CC BY-SA.

Watters, A. (2014). Un-fathomable: The Hidden History of Ed-Tech, Chapter 2. In The monsters of education technology. Licensed under the Creative Commons CC BY-SA.


The Great EdTech Debate: Do Media Affect Learning Outcomes?

by Terra A., Katie B., Darin F., Amber M., Dugg S.


This week a few members of the Royal Roads University Masters of Arts in Learning and Technology (MALAT) cohort met virtually to debate whether media affect learning outcomes. We each read seminal works that outlined each side of the debate: Clark (1994) argued media absolutely do not affect learning outcomes while Kozma (1994) argued we have not yet found the link between media and learning, so he does not agree with the bold statement put forward by Clark (1994).

After grounding ourselves in both sides the education technology media debate, we each sought out an article published recently in the mainstream media and evaluated how each article related to the arguments put forward by Clark (1994) and Kozma (1994). Below are our findings.


Museums Test New Technology, Interactive Exhibits

Terra A.

The video “Museums Test New Technology, Interactive Exhibits” looks at the implementation of digital tools by museums across the globe.  In an effort to make the museum experience more engaging and informative, many prominent museums are implementing digital tools such as interactive displays; 3D videos; and movies accompanied by smells (e.g. gunpowder), moving sets and seats, and weather simulations (e.g. snow and wind). It is implied, though not explicitly stated, that the museums believe the use of these digital tools and accompaniments will help to increase learning in their visitors – children and adults alike.  The museums’ belief that digital tools will increase the engagement and learning of their visitors is in stark contrast with Clark’s (1983) assertion that media are “mere vehicles that deliver instruction but do not influence student achievement”.  


Clark, R. (1983). Reconsidering Research on Learning from Media. Review of Educational Research, 53(4), 445–459.

Clark, R. (1994). Media will never influence learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 21–29. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02299088

Wall Street Journal. (2015, Oct 15). General format. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32pqI1dod8A


How Americans Get Science Information

Katie B.

In the article “How Americans Get Science Information”, social media would be considered the medium to delivering the content of science information with the intention to educate the public on such issues like climate change or engineered food. This article claims that social media or “the media” for the sake of the argument we are debating, plays a modest role in actually educating people. The article depicts the usage and delivery methods of the content, stating that the medium is used by people to check in or be updated on what’s going on (with regards to science in this article particularly). This supports the claims made by Clarke (1983) when he says that the media is simply a “vehicle that delivers instruction” or in this case information. If learning occurs, it is not the media in this case that has caused a cognitive change in the brain, the information itself is not specific to the vehicle used to deliver it. In other words, if the information about science could be delivered in different ways (books, TV, newspapers, etc) then it can not be declared that the social media was, in fact, the result of a person learning (Clark, 1983). It could be argued that the means for social media use, in this case, was a cost-effective medium to deliver the information, therefore supporting Clark’s claim that delivery technologies influence the cost and access of instruction and information.


Funk, C., Gottfried, J., & Mitchell, A. (2017, September 20). Science news and information today. Paw Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.journalism.org



Darin F.

zyBooks is a company that creates and sells interactive digital books for pedagogical purposes. The subject material of zyBooks, a new media format, focusses on material that deals with STEM education. Drew (2011) outlines that STEM education is an initiative to stimulate the learning of students in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. The purpose of zyBooks is to replace traditional textbooks and static ePub/PDF digital volumes with a more richer, intuitive, and interactive educational experience that are “proven to better prepare students” (Why zyBooks section, para. 5).

The information provided on the website for zyBooks illustrates the confidence that the creators have in their dynamic educational book series. This level of confidence is showcased on the company’s website page listed under Research. According to zyBooks (n.d.), “zyBooks improved student performance by 16%” (Research section, para. 1) and ”letter grades up to ⅔” (Research section, para. 2). The company continued to show that “students learned 118% more in a single-lesson with minimal text” (Research section, para. 3) with “fewer than 3% of students ‘cheat the system’” (Research section, para. 4). These statements indicate that the company zyBooks perceives that their new media has influenced learning. This assumption by zyBooks directly challenges the theory set out by Clark. Clark (1994) iterates that the influence of education is based on the method of delivery and not the media. To reinforce the company’s claim, zyBooks has supplied non-peer reviewed articles which are written by employees of zyBooks.


Clark, R. (1994). Media will never influence learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 21–29. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02299088

Drew, D. (2011). STEM the tide. Retrieved from https://muse-jhu-edu.ezproxy.royalroads.ca/chapter/35261

Funk, C., Gottfried, J., & Mitchell, A. (2017, September 20). Science news and information today. Paw Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.journalism.org

Kozma, R. B. (1994). Will media influence learning? Reframing the debate. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 7–19. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02299087.

zyBooks. (n.d.). zyBooks. Retrieved October 7, 2017, from http://www.zybooks.com/research/


This Play Dough Will Teach Your Kids All About Electricity

Amber M.

This article explains how using conductive play dough as the medium for learning can help children understand how electricity works. The article says, “Children can grasp technical concepts, but they need the right tools” (para. 1). If “tools” is a synonym for “media,” the statement directly contradicts Clark (1994), who argues media do not affect learning outcomes. But if “tools” is a synonym for “methods,” the statement aligns with Clark’s position (1994), who states media and methods are different. The article provides clarification on its position, stating, “It’s allowing children to solve problems through self-motivated learning” (para. 6). Here, the article explicitly aligns itself with Clark (1994) by indicating learning theories such as a problem-solving orientation and motivation are what drives learning outcomes, implying the media used is a secondary consideration.


Stinson, E. (2017). This play dough will teach your kids all about electricity. Retrieved October 6, 2017, from https://www.wired.com/2017/06/play-dough-will-teach-kids-electricity/


8 Important Reasons Why YouTube Should Be Part Of Your eLearning Course

Dugg S.

In the article “8 Important Reasons Why YouTube Should Be Part Of Your eLearning Course”, the author Christoforos Pappas (2015) explores how YouTube can benefit eLearning students through a focus on integration, community development, promotion of discussion, mobile learning potentials, note-taking skill development, comprehension of complex concepts and contribution through creativity.

Pappas outlines how YouTube videos can be created to introduce, explain in detail, or summarize most subjects or skills for students.  Additionally, students and educators can create or consume content as part of a closed or open community while generating discussions within the YouTube platform or within the classroom.  YouTube videos can be viewed from locations convenient to the student and at the student’s pace to help ensure engagement and retention.  Additionally, YouTube videos can be created with the intention of viewing in short segments which “ensures that complex procedures and demonstrations of specific skills are delivered in small quantities, which enhances knowledge retention” (Pappas, 2015).

Through his exploration of the eight reasons to integrate YouTube videos in eLearning, Pappas supports Kozma’s (1994) assertion that media will influence learning.  Pappas (2015) summarizes that “visual contexts help learners to easily acquire and retain knowledge, as well as develop specific skill sets, as demonstration is the most effective way to get a message across.”


Clark, R. (1994). Media will never influence learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 21–29. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02299088

Kozma, R. B. (1994). Will media influence learning? Reframing the debate. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 7–19. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02299087.

Pappas, C. (2015). 8 important reasons why youtube should be part of your elearning. Course Retrieved October 6, 2017, from https://elearningindustry.com/8-important-reasons-youtube-part-elearning-course


Digital Presence & Identity Plan

Digital Presence & Identity Plan

Overall goal and purpose

My aim is to cultivate a professional, authentic digital identity. My purpose is to develop my competence in the field of learning and technology, as well as increase my professional network awareness and contribution.

Approach for goal achievement

I will actively contribute content to two sites: WordPress and LinkedIn; the former to develop my knowledge in the learning and technology space, and the latter to contribute to my digital network of HR and learning professionals.

Competency gap identification

On social media sites, I almost exclusively observe and privately reflect on my discoveries; to use White and Cornu’s terminology, I am a pure ‘visitor’ (2011). As a result, I have no experience writing my opinions in a public forum and I have given little thought to my digital identity.

Gap remediation strategies

My plan for remediation is twofold: to carefully construct an authentic digital identity; and to begin to actively participate, knowing the comfort and confidence will come with practice.

Measure of success

I will post to both LinkedIn and my MALAT blog at least once per month for the next six months – August 2017 to January 2018. I will also actively monitor relevant Twitter feeds on a daily basis.




White, D. S., & Le Cornu, A. (2011). Visitors and residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday16(9). https://doi.org/doi:10.5210/fm.v16i9.3171.