The Medium is the Modality

Richard E. Clark (1994) argued that there is little to no evidence that media influences learning. Robert Kozma (1994) also offers evidence that media has not played a substantial role in learning, although he leaves the door open to arguing that media still have the potential to do so in the future. The authors’ positions are refuted by many scholars and writers. We have compiled some examples. 

Westera, W. (2017). How people learn while playing serious games: A computational modelling approach. Journal of Computational Science, 18(1), 32-45.

Retrieved from

This paper focuses on the use of games for learning and questions the position of Clark (1983, 2010). The author argued that using games in education and training is engaging and results in stronger learner involvement, simulates realistic environments, stimulates problem-solving, and supports learning-by-doing; which all supports “the acquisition of tacit and contextualised knowledge.” 

EdTech. (2019). Early adopters pioneer virtual reality use in higher education.

Retrieved from

This article points out the use of Virtual Reality in the online biological science degree program in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University. A unit within Arizona State University – EdPlus – is dedicated to “scaling access to education through online programs and other initiatives” (EdTech, para. 7); it is responsible for the implementation of VR within the school. Philippos Savvides. a EdPlus learning technology manager, states that using VR, the students “get to be active and move around using the headset and controller, so there’s an active-learning element involved”. Clark (1994) restates from his early work that “that any necessary teaching method could be designed into a variety of media presentations” (Clark, 1994), but in the case of the movement allowed in VR learning, this specific learning could not be replaced by other movement-restrictive technologies. 

Beckingham, K (2019, February 23). What impact is edtech having on pedagogy? Education Technology.Retrieved from

This article features the role of technology in enhancing the learning experience for students. Utilizing education technology in the classroom (e.g., virtual pinboards, screen sharing, and VR) has made it easier for teachers to engage their students by making learning more interactive (Kennedy, para. 6). Keeping pedagogy at the core of developing these products is essential. According to several edtech providers, this field is competitive.  To ensure not only the longevity of the product but also the efficacy of the learning tool, pedagogy needs to be incorporated in the product development; The critical element to the success of this is ensuring that the different roles the teacher, the learner, and the technology play are fully understood (Hague, para. 10). As Kozma (1994) asserted, the question that should be asked is, how do we use the capabilities of media to influence learning for particular students, tasks, and situations? (p. 23).  This question articulated that media do have a place in enhancing the learning experiences of students as well as the experience of teachers providing the lessons.

Lynch, M. (2017). 7 Ways technology is impacting modern education.

Retrieved from

Clark (1994) claims that media have no advantages when it comes to learning. Lynch (2017) would disagree. In his article “7 Ways Technology is Impacting Modern Education”, he states that technology is a considerable means in pedagogy, and that technology can significantly affect students’ and teachers’ learning processes. Lynch lists the ways in which technology aids learning; he makes a strong point observing how young learners become more passionate about their studies depending on how interactive their learning is. He offers geography class as an example; Students are much more passionate about studying geography when using interactive technologies such as Google Maps or Google Earth. Clark (1994) on the other hand feels that media are not responsible for bringing passion to learners. Overall, Lynch’s view in the great media debate contradicts Clark’s.

Clark and Kozma offer a challenging view of the role of media in learning. Their arguments are robust and controversial. As the learning and technology community continues to evolve, Clark and Kozma’s writings have yielded an abundance of healthy discourse. We are pleased that we have the opportunity to explore some of the many articles and research.


Additional References

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

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



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *