Change: Leadership in Digital Environments – A Roadmap to Success


Al-Haddad & Kotnour and Biech noted some common elements within leadership with change: identify problem, create resource availability, invitation, train, support and review. This conception of how to deal with change in leadership can be adapted for a change within digital learning environments. Sheninger notes the 7 Pillars to Success for implementing change within digital learning environments, and even these notions show common elements to the above mentioned theories.

We start the roadmap with the concept of identifying a need for change. “Proper planning and analysis help[s] identify the gap between where the organization is now and where it wants to be” (Al-Haddad and Kotnour, 2015, p. 243). This process is important and leads to creating the vision for change.

The vision for change requires a buy in from all employees in the organization. In order to create change and be effective leaders, everyone needs to see the same vision and creation of opportunity that can be implemented by change. The downside of vision, is the sense of loss. “People go through phases as they adjust to change and people perceive change as a loss – if only as the loss of what was” (Biech, 2007).

Communicating within the digital age is looked at as a hurdle. “Important information can be communicated through various free social media tools and simple implementation strategies in order to meet stakeholders in the digital age” (Sheninger, 2014). Sheninger’s theory on communication is applicable to education or learning environments as well. There are many social media tools, or learning platform tools, that allow students and instructors to communicate effectively ensuring that students and professor remain on the same learning/course path.

The evaluation of performance provides a roadmap for students to see what and how they are going to achieve their grade or result in the course. This metric provides a clear picture of what is required for students to achieve success, but also providing an opportunity for growth. Evaluation provides a sense of effectiveness, efficiency, quality, and productivity (Al-Haddad and Kotnour, 2015, p. 241). By setting objectives and metrics on how to measure those objectives, students can see where they went wrong and instructors can see where more communication may be needed, where a problem may exist, and/or how they can improve to ensure students are receiving the information they needed for success. “Evaluating the impact of the change is an important step of closure, but deciding what to do with what you learn is also important” (Biech, 2007).

Support is an element that is often forgotten or rendered unnecessary. Students require support to ensure comprehension, clarification, or verification of their thought. Providing students the opportunity to reach out for support and assistance through different digital mediums can allow students to feel more comfortable and heard. Biech speaks to reflecting and supporting the learning with reflection (Biech, 2007). Upon reflection, students can review to see where they feel their needs are not being met, providing upwards feedback. Top down feedback is provided through performance evaluation, through criticism and critique. Instructors can incorporate self-reflection, looking at how they can improve their leadership. Along with reflection, is support during the process of change. “Consistently seek out ways to improve existing programs, resources, and professional development through technology” (Sheninger, 2014). Through support, instructors can alter the course, creating a stronger learning environment along the roadmap of learning.


Al-Haddad, S., & Kotnour, T. (2015). Integrating the organizational change literature: a model for successful changeJournal of Organizational Change Management28(2), 234-262.

Biech, E. (2007). Models for Change. In Thriving Through Change: A Leader’s Practical Guide to Change Mastery. Alexandria, VA: ASTD Press.  [Retrieved from Skillsoft e-book database]

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




Managing Change

In reading the articles and publications that were provided within this unit, I see a lot if content and theory that makes sense. However, I don’t necessary agree that our current technological and societal ties are taken into account specifically. Then I think, do they need to be? Change is change and whether we are changing to use technological advancements or not, organizational readiness for change, is a large factor to consider (Weiner, 2009). I don’t agree that all concepts, tasks and so on need to be adapted because we have technology. What we need to look at is the original theory and adapt that process of integrating change due to the technology we are using. Kanter’s suggested skills for change leaders are just as relevant today as they were in 2000:

  1. “Tuning in to the environment.
  2. Challenging the prevailing organizational wisdom.
  3. Communicating a compelling aspiration.
  4. Building coalitions.
  5. Transferring ownership to a working team.
  6. Learning to preserve. (7) Making everyone a hero” (p. 34).

It isn’t about the theory that needs to be changed, if leaders use these skills and adapt these skills to what they are changing due to technology, I believe the leaders will still be successful.

Sheninger’s 7 Pillars of Digital Leadership can really be adapted to any type of service or business (Sheninger, 2019). The leadership style and qualities are not confined by technology, but how how to embrace technology into the process of leading.

My leadership style most commonly aligns with Khan and Sheninger. I believe in the process and theories they have outlined. The 7 pillars are attributes I strive to have as a leader (Sheninger, 2014). Khan’s two theories of adaptive leadership and transactional leadership, are a broader view of my leadership style (Khan, 2017). This view hasn’t changed since Unit 1.

Leadership doesn’t play just a role in managing change, it is the main role in managing change. A leadership style can influence how well others take change, are open to change, or execute the change. Leaders initiate a change based on the strategic objectives for the company (Al-Haddad and Kotnour, 2015, p. 234). Once the change has been initiated a process must be put in place that incorporates how to get to the strategic objectives. Setting goals and defining performance measures allows an organization to clearly define a desired outcome and evaluate the execution (Al-Haddad and Kotnour, 2015, p. 251).

When I think about being an online instructor, I think there are a few important aspects to ensure have been portrayed. Using an example from Sheninger, communication (Sheninger, 2014). Students don’t have that time in class to ask me questions as soon as they arise, they are delayed through email or s discussion forum post and then my delay in a response. It is imperative I work hard to stay on top of emails, discussions and questions in order to best help students move forward with their assignments and questions. Another example that is evident in being a university instructor is, evaluation. For a lot of students, my course is one of the first ones they have taken online at University. Setting an expectation on how they will be evaluated in an asynchronous learning environment, is imperative. Students need to understand what type of information they will receive and how to complete the course.

When it comes to leadership, these decade old theories and concepts remain relevant in today’s world. It’s the process of incorporating change and how to do that within today’s world where we are behind. Adapting to technological advancements and incorporating this into the process of change is where we as a whole struggle, whether we are leaders or users.


Weiner, B. J. (2009). A theory of organizational readiness for changeImplementation Science4.

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

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

Al-Haddad, S., & Kotnour, T. (2015). Integrating the organizational change literature: a model for successful changeJournal of Organizational Change Management28(2), 234-262.


Understanding Leadership

I have been a leader in many different aspects of my life.  I was the captain and leader of sports teams through my athletic career.  I was the leader, sometimes voted and sometimes volunteered, throughout my academic career.  I am the leader, owner, of an accounting firm.  I am a University Instructor.  I am a parent.  My approach to leadership is different depending on each situation and each environment I am in. For example, I teach online and face-to-face courses.  Teaching online, I use a very different approach for my students than I do if I am face-to-face.  I provide recordings and many different communication outlets, as well as online office hours and additional online support networks for students who need assistance.  For my face-to-face courses, they must be in class to submit assignments and receive lecture material.  I provide office hour support for students, which require a face-to-face meeting.  In order to teach a course online online, I needed to adapt and redesign my course for online distribution, as well as the support being provided.

Understanding that leaders must adapt to their environment, seems like an obvious concept.  Where there seems to be a loss, is what adaptation means.  To me, adaptation is understanding the surroundings, understanding the issues that come with a certain type of environment, understanding what pitfalls may lay ahead or how to cope when hitting challenges.  Being a leader is a tough job, but preparing to lead is where you can really make a difference for others’ experiences.

Khan speaks to two different types of leadership, adaptive leadership and transactional leadership (Khan, 2017).  Adaptive leadership takes into account the environment and external factors, versus transactional leadership which stresses on the relationship between the leader and follower (Khan, 2017).  It’s interesting to view these two types of leadership separately.  Personally, I feel like you would be an adaptive leader to enhance the relationship between the leader and follower.  It makes sense to me that a leader should incorporate external environmental factors and change accordingly to ensure a better reaction, response, and experience for the follower.

There are several leadership values or attributes that I would like to highlight including: competence, intelligence, and supportive.  Competence is defined as “the quality or state of having sufficient knowledge, judgment, skill, or strength (as for a particular duty or in a particular respect)” (Merriam-Webster, 2020).  A leader must be competent in the duty or skill that they are asking or requiring others to complete, no matter the environment, this value holds true.  “To do this, leaders must understand the origins of fear and misconceptions that often surround the use of technology, such as social media and mobile devices” (Sheninger, 2014).  Understanding how students interact with the learning platform, how to ensure engagement, how to check responsiveness to messages or assignments are examples of being a competent leader.  Intelligence can often be misunderstood for having the same meaning as competence.  I think they differ by one major concept, the ability to grasp information.  By this I mean, reading and understanding information, thinking on one’s feet, and the ability to change and grow as you move through an activity.  This is intelligence.  This idea of grasping information can mean the difference for a follower or students experience.  Instructors must prepare and understand how the materials will be received by students and how the students can submit those materials.  The last value I would like to touch on is supportive.  So often, as instructors, students look to us for advice and guidance.  I have students meet with me on a regular basis to ask about professional careers and opportunities.  There is another aspect to support as well, supporting students or followers through a course.  As leaders, we must have the ability to support the learners and help them grasp the knowledge we are trying to distribute.  Our job is to teach, yes, but we are leading a classroom full of young minds looking to soak up and understand the content.  How we do that and the support we provide in doing that, is so important.

One of the issues I have found with incorporating technological advancements into programs or courses, is the number of resources.  There are so many different types of platforms and resources, that it is easy to get overwhelmed as both a leader and as a learner or follower.  Narrowing down communication outlets, how and where leaners get the information, has become vital to ensure a stronger experience for learners and followers.


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

Merriam-Webster. (2020). Competence. Retrieved from

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

Virtual On-The-Job Training

When assessing how technology can apply to learning there are many different approaches that can be taken.  Through the process of the Stanford d.School’s Design Thinking Process (2016), it became evident that Christina and Leigha have very different perspectives when it comes to the application of technology to learning.  

Christina works for a tech company making technology-enabled learning environments primarily for military personnel. She is responsible for designing and leading development teams in the creation of digital learning products and environments. These learning aids support or enforce learning that takes place in curriculum which is not created or controlled by her company.  

Leigha runs an accounting firm and is a finance professor at Capilano University (CapU).  At CapU, she employs digital learning tools to support the learning environment and curriculum she designs.  The learning tools are not created by Leigha and she has limited control within the functionality and restrictions of the tools. 

Design Thinking Process

While working through the Design Thinking Process (Carter, 2018), Christina and Leigha discussed the needs of their students and compared their outlooks on intellectual risk taking and engagement in online learning within their diverse professional fields.  Through this discussion, they found that if a virtual environment could replicate the reality of on-the-job training, both types of learner groups would benefit. Christina’s military students are often dealing with massive and expensive equipment, not to mention, life and death situations. Although they may have read instructions or learnt specific steps to follow within a classroom environment, they have to wait until a ship or tank and a supervisor is available to really understand how to read the situation and what the often, very severe repercussions of failure are.  Leigha is in quite a different situation, where her students are not dealing with life and death situation, but following the law. Leigha is able to guide them towards the correct method of thinking in order to follow the law and complete a task. Leigha uses digital accounting tools to aid learning and support the curriculum she has taught. The digital accounting software available has limited flexibility and control, either providing too much guidance or just referencing textbook material.  

Although the learners are from two very diverse industries, the conclusion that the creation of a digital learning environment that mimics reality for on-the-job training, would be ideal.  This idea is in alignment with Jeffrey Dalto who argued that unlike media that came before, these new immersive environments allow for areas that previously were only able to be learned on the job, be brought to the classroom (Dalto, 2018).   

Problem Statement:

Within an integrated online learning platform, how can we create real like consequences so that students experience the emotions and feelings of what failure could mean?


An online learning platform that includes:

  • The creation of a virtual environment that replicates on-the-job training for a specified task. 
  • Create a branching/non-linear path to follow.
  • Allow students to go along any path to the solution, “instructor” assistance will only be provided if they are nearing a critical and/or unrecoverable error.
  • If guidance is ignored, the student will be allowed to reach the critical and/or unrecoverable error.
  • Upon failure, the student will be delivered additional content to understand the possible repercussions of the error. 

This prototype solution is about creating a digital learning environment that provides practice of an on-the-job task that allows the learner to go off the expected/correct path, and offers gentle guidance back without providing solutions to the process.  The primary focus is learning and engagement within that learning. The opportunity to explore intellectual risk-taking shouldn’t outweigh the learning.

This prototype can be implemented for all levels of learners as it would provide guidance based on the skill level required for the specified task.  Knowles states that adult learners are self-directed and expect to face the consequences of their actions (Knowles, 1973, 80). The desire to face the consequences of your actions, depicts a real-life simulator would work to increase engagement and bring intellectual risk taking into the learning environment. “In this direction he must, if he is an educator, be able to judge what attitudes are actually conducive to continued growth and what are detrimental” (Knowles, 1973, 69).  The progress and growth, as well as the results of each attempt, should be recorded and reviewed to ensure the correct behaviours and attitudes required to be successful within these industries are present and being accurately portrayed through the learning process.

Christina and Leigha would appreciate input on:

  • Would the temptation to explore risks in a digital environment when the repercussions aren’t real need to be mitigated?
  • Is there a desire to explore the possible repercussions of a situation because it is a simulation?
  • Would providing real-life photos or interviews on how such mistakes impacted people’s lives be an effective form of mitigation?

Please provide your input before December 6th, so as to allow us the opportunity to properly address your concerns in our evaluation and feedback response. 

Thank you and we look forward to hearing from you.



Please disregard the formatting for the References listed. The Blog Posting generator does not allow formatting.

Carter, D. (2018, November). Design Thinking Process. Retrieved from

Stanford University Institute of Design. (2016). A Virtual Crash Course in Design Thinking — Stanford [Website]. Retrieved from

Dalto, J. (2018). AR, VR and 3-D can make workers better: IE. ISE ; Industrial and Systems Engineering at Work, 50(9), 42-47. Retrieved from

Knowles, M. (1973, April). The Adult Learner: A Neglected Species. Retrieved from


Exploring the World of Instructional Design

Through exploration comes discovery!

Let’s start with Bates’ article, A Short History of Educational Technology.

I appreciate how Bates structured the article, using the main modes of communication to provide the educational technology developments1. “One of the earliest means of formal teaching was oral – though human speech – although over time, technology has been increasingly used to facilitate or ‘back-up’ oral communication”1. It is interesting that we look for ways to support what we are teaching or being taught, we must go beyond the lecture. When lectures first began, it was simply reading off of a scroll, so why do we need to support this now1? I think technology has brought learners to question the teachings. Instead of taking the teachings and understanding what they are being taught, learners try and counter those that teach them. Information has become so accessible, that there are countless numbers of sources available at your fingertips, each with its own perspective. Is this a gratification type of need? Why is there this question to the instructors and information being taught? How do we, as instructors or instructional designers, get past this? Can we get past this?

“The development of web-based learning management systems in the mid-1990s, textual communication, although digitized, became, at least for a brief time, the main communication medium for Internet-based learning”1. Online learning platforms provide such great opportunities for students to continue education. This goes beyond a lecture style of learning and takes print to a more publicly available platform. I am curious to know the impact that web-based learning management systems have had on textbook publishers. Do students always purchase textbooks or do they look to alternate sources available? This could save quite a bit of money for students and with post-secondary education being quite costly, I would be interested in seeing if there has been an impact to sales. My other question would be, has there been a major shift from print sources to “e” or online alternatives?

Telephone, broadcasting, recording, conference calling, and webinars have been introduced, yet these technologies don’t change the oral basis of communication for teaching1. Again, we return the impact and reliance on oral communication for learning with the support of technological developments. Technology has simply made oral communication more accessible and readily available for students. The question is, is this enough?

The settlers have landed and now look to explore the lands.

Let’s continue our exploration with David Merrill’s, First Principles of Instruction.

Merrill’s four phases: “… (a) activation of prior experience, (b) demonstration of skills, (c) application of skills, and (d) integration of these skills into real-world activities” closely align with how I have designed my courses2. I was recently hired as a Business Finance Instructor at a local University and I used this approach in designing my courses. I have found that you need to teach, teach again, watch, and then correct to really help students absorb the material. Business Finance is all about problems. We look at puzzles and cases and try to find ways to solve or make sense of the issue. I really like this approach, but I wonder how relevant these four phases can be to all types of teaching. For example, what if I can’t activate prior experience for my students? Can I use a real-world example instead? Does this impact the flow of these four phases in learning, since a real-world activity is the final phase? I’m also very interested in the reflection concept.  “Learners need the opportunity to reflect on, defend, and share what they have learned if it is to become part of their available repertoire”2. Reflecting and processing the information in order to be able to share it with others, seems like an integral step within the process. Is it the sharing that provides the most benefit? Or is the ability to reflect on the content and analyze that content to see what you do and do not understand? Where does Nelson’s emphasis on collaboration fit? With more of a focus on application, versus demonstration2, it seems that the sharing can really happen at any stage. Can it beneficial to learning collaboratively versus solely and then collaborate? Where do students have that “ah ha” moment?

I’m really looking forward to learning more about instructional design and testing out some of these theories and processes within my own teachings.


1Bates, T. (2014, December 10). A Short History of Educational Technology. Retrieved from

2Merrill, M. D. (2002). First principles of instruction. Educational Technology Research and Development50(3), 43-59.

Hype Versus Facts

A letter was written by the government stating that childhood health and well-being is declining and it’s all because of technology (Etchells, P., et al.). Well if that isn’t alarming for a parent!

Welcome to the 21st century. Technology is a major part of our everyday lives, whether we are talking about our professions, social interactions, or lifestyle. It is important that children learn the use of technology and have some screen time (Etchells, P., et al).

Etchells and colleagues wrote a very blunt article calling out the government for trying to scare parents by stating that there is a major problem with screen time use in children. However, “this is simply not supported by solid research and evidence” (Etchells, P., et al.). What Etchells and his colleagues are trying to explain, is that what the government has been telling you is not correct. “There is no consistent evidence that more screen time leads to less outdoor play; if anything the evidence indicates that screen time and physical outdoor activity are unrelated” (Etchells, P., et al.). If the issue is children’s health, then a policy needs to be focused on children’s health for it be effective.

This theory regarding children’s screen time being a problem, is something that has been floating around for years. Is it all hype? What does the research really say? The public doesn’t know and instead of doing their own research, they fall for the scare tactics put out there by the government.

I have two young kids, one toddler and one infant. My husband and I both run our own businesses and are constantly responding to emails, answering calls, sending text messages, or just working. For all these things, we use technology. My older child likes to grab at our phones or laptops and copy what he has seen us do with it. They learn at such a young age by watching how we interact with objects, how they should then interact with those objects. We work to correct his behaviour and teach him how to use those objects appropriately. We give him a safe environment to learn to use technology and then when we feel he has had enough time or if he uses the piece of technology inappropriately, we remove that object. We are establishing boundaries with technology in the same manner we do with anything else. We also require so much outdoor and fresh air time, to ensure that the kids experience nature. Seeing the seasons change, watching all the different animals, as well as meeting new people, is a great learning experience for children. We don’t treat learning with technology any different. I agree with Etchells and his colleagues, the government is blaming poor health on technology because it is the new shiny object. It’s easy to point a finger at one thing, but show us the support.

Technology is used everyday, it is our today and our tomorrow. By imposing the same regulations to the use of technology as any other toy and ensuring that my kids are receiving well-rounded daily experiences, we feel that they will grow up to being more well-rounded. My husband and I feel that we can introduce things to the kids with regulation and moderation, by doing so, they learn about more, experience more, and develop more skills. This works for us.

The Impact of Blackboards on Education

A blackboard is an educational tool that everyone is familiar with. Blackboards entered classrooms throughout North America in 1801 (Swinnerton, 2005). It became a standard tool in a classroom setting and for good reason. The blackboards were, and still are, used to aid teachers and instructors in providing learning material in an effective manner, as well as, providing students with learning experiences. This essay examines the impact of the blackboard on education and how the use of blackboards within education, was one of the most impactful technologies created to assist learning.

The creation and implementation of the blackboard into classrooms was a smooth process and was widely accepted throughout the different levels of education. “Looking at blackboard inscriptions formed a crucial part of children’s instruction and school experience” (Wylie, 2012). This was due to the technology being so effective within the educational spectrum. With the low cost and easy implementation, educators were eager to use this technological tool. “When I think of the signifier “school”, I automatically picture the teacher (usually a smiling young woman) standing in front of, pointing at, or writing on a chalkboard” (Krause, 2000, p. 9). The blackboard was such a normal tool, that it became a symbol for the world school, learning and education. Instructor manuals included drawings of how to use the blackboard and what to put on the blackboard for the students, drafting instructional design using this technological tool of blackboards (Wylie, 2012).

The blackboard provided a tool to instructors to enhance the learning experience of their students. Josiah F. Bumstead wrote in 1841 in his book titled The Blackboard in the Primary Schools, that “the inventor or introducer of the system deserves to be ranked among the best contributors to learning and science, if not among the greatest benefactors of mankind” (Krause, 2000, p. 11). This tool allowed instructors to present information and engage students to answer questions, assist with the key points or learnings, and to provide generalized feedback to students. Students are actively engaged with the lessons by handling and dissecting the information that is being presented to them (Wylie, 2012). This changed learning from passive to active. In the late nineteenth century, in England, manuals were published to describe to teachers when to use a blackboard in teaching, but also how to use it (Wylie, 2012). These manuals provided teachers a blueprint, or instructional design to optimize the learning for students and keep engagement. The blackboard became a visual aid for teachers.

The Lancasterian method prescribed particular ways for the classroom to be setup in order to allow instructors to teach and work with a large group, versus individualized instruction (Gershon, 2017). “The blackboard offered an inexpensive and efficient way to make lessons visible to large audiences of students” (Wylie, 2012). This technology allowed teachers to work through problems or concerns with their students. An unknown writer was quoted referring to the blackboard as “the MIRROR reflecting the workings, character and quality of the individual mind” (Krause, 2000, p. 11). This visible representation can allow instructors feedback as a class.  “You can look around the class and if you see confusion or people not being happy, it’s easy if you have a blackboard to explain” (Hendry, 2015). Receiving nonverbal feedback while standing in front of the class and having a tool to address the class as one audience, is a tool that didn’t exist. Infact, it has been said that this tool, cannot be replaced. Technology may have made small changes or adaptation to the original blackboard, mostly cosmetic changes, the actual concept of the blackboard hasn’t changed since inception (Hendry, 2015).

This blackboard technology has proven that the concept for learning and education cannot be improved upon. Technology has now seen the innovation of the integrated whiteboard (IWB). This technology has been quoted as the second most revolutionary instructional technology, with the first most revolutionary technology being the blackboard (Mal, 2010, p. 134). This technological innovation works similar to a blackboard, describing the ability to teach to the audience with information from a computer being linked to a large white screen. As each of the authors has confirmed, the concept of the blackboard is something that, even after 200 years, is just as relevant today as it was in 1801.

The authors cited, Wylie, Krause, Gerson, Hendry and Mal, all used empirical research to support their articles. The cited sources were all from Europe or the United States, which shows a narrow scope of information, possibly showing that the information is not for global or worldwide use. A similar issue throughout the articles, is that there are lots of sources being cited, but no data from the studies where the sources got their information; simply using quotes to support the quotes. In some cases, there were limited sources being used, making the article seem more like an opinion versus a well supported article. In one case, there were no citations for the quotes, which makes the validity of the interview and support seem questionable. In general, strength could have been added to these articles by incorporating study data and adding depth to the support or sources used. Although there are pitfalls within the articles used, it is clear that each of the articles point to the same conclusion.

The blackboard was a tool used in demonstrating and creating the idealized teacher. This normal item of a classroom, has become imperative to teaching and providing relevant instruction. The blackboard enhanced teaching styles, improving instructional design methods.   Although this technology is old, it works. Even with technological advancements happening everyday, the technologies are really an advancement on something that is already working, the blackboard, which is why the blackboard continues to be the most impactful technology within education.


Swinnerton, J. (2005). The history of Britain companion (p. 128). London: Robson.

Wylie, C.D. (2012). Teaching manuals and the blackboard: accessing historical classroom

practices. History of Education 41(2), 257-272, DOI: 10.1080/0046760X.2011.584573

Krause, S. (2000). “Among the Greatest Benefactors of Mankind”: What the Success of

Chalkboards Tells Us about the Future of Computers in the Classroom. The Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association, 33(2), 6-16. doi:10.2307/1315198

Gershon, L. (2017, December 21). How Blackboards Transformed American Education | JSTOR

Daily. Retrieved October 1, 2019, from

Hendry, C. (2015, December 21). Chalkboard teaching in the age of technology. Retrieved from

Chalkboard teaching in the age of technology

Lee, Mal (2010) ‘Interactive whiteboards and schooling: the context’, Technology, Pedagogy and

Education, 19: 2, 133 — 141. doi:10.1080/1475939X.2010.491215

Debating effects of Media and Technology on Learning

Co-authored by: Leigha Nevay, Tala MamiCaroline MonsellKerry Sharples, and Owen Lloyd

Image retrieved from: Retrieved from

Summary of the points of view in Clark and Kozma’s Papers

Richard E. Clark and Robert B. Kozma are considered by many as the founding fathers of the Great Media debate. This debate focuses on media’s role in teaching and learning with Clark claiming that media is a delivery means of information while Kozma’s contrasting view is that media WILL influence learning when applied correctly.

Clark provides a simple and to the point article on why media will never influence learning. “Many researchers have argued that media have differential economic benefits but no learning benefits” (Clark, 1994, p. 21). Clark states that media is simply a method in which learning is delivered but does not influence the achievement for students taking in the information (Clark, 1994, p. 21). This leads to the hypothesis that, “instructional methods had been confounded with media and that it is methods which influence learning” (Clark, 1994, p. 21). The definition of method is the shaping of information that activates the cognitive process necessary for achievement (Clark, 1994, p. 22). The definition of medium is how that information is provided, for example, face-to-face or online. A study was completed by Suppes that demonstrates that it was not the medium, but the drill or method of information that influenced achievement within the learners (Clark, 1994, p. 23).

The article expresses many claims to the lack of media influence on learning, but the main focus behind Clark’s claim is due to the confusion around the definition of method and medium. The use of media within instruction was found to have the same cognitive results or replicate similar cognitive functions for learners without the use of media in instruction (Clark, 1994, p. 22). Clark states that instructional design science requires the least expensive alternative for education, as long as the efficiency is the same (Clark, 1994, p. 21). This means that if the cognitive functions are the same, the cost of using media in instruction is higher than a traditional instructional design, therefore, the traditional design would be chosen. Clark summarizes his theory by stating, “media and their attributes have important influences on the cost or speed of learning but only the use of adequate instructional methods will influence learning (Clark, 1994, p. 27).

While Kozma believes that under the correct condition media will influence learning by implementing the media’s defining attributes correctly. Kozma draws a distinction between media attributes and capabilities, expressing that “The attributes of a medium are its capabilities; the capabilities of a medium are always present” (Kozma, 1994, pg. 13) and that it’s through the careful consideration of the unique context for students, tasks, or situations how to best use these capabilities to influence learning.

To clarify the point, he continues by identifying that causes that were effective and facilitated learning in one situation may have an entirely different effect in a different situation or context despite the fact they were used in a similar manner. For that reason, a media theory must consider both the media’s specific capabilities and the uniqueness of individual social situations which they are being used. Kozma continues to suggest that we should not be separating medium and method and that these two should have a more integral relationship when instructional design is being considered.

It is Kozma’s belief that we shouldn’t be debating if or if not, the media has an influence on learning but more importantly how can we use media capabilities to facilitate learning for individual students, tasks and situations. So not When, or If but HOW.

Together the five of us from the 2019 Royal Roads MALAT program searched the internet for examples of media’s use and the effect it had on learning hoping to find some clarity for these contrasting points of view.


How Immersive Learning Empowers Students and Teachers Alike.

Dave Dolan’s blog post How Immersive Learning Empowers Students and Teacher Alike is an excellent example of Kozma’s statement in his article, Will media influence learning: Reframing the debate. Educational Technology Research and Development, of how important it is to use a medium’s defining capabilities to enable learning. Immersive Virtual Learning’s defining capability is its ability to immerse students into a world framed by the learning subject matter at hand promoting focused, distraction free learning. Additionally, Kozma attests that media theories should reflect the capabilities of media and the situations with which they are used. VR (Virtual Reality) immersion allows learners to both interact with the learning material and optionally with each other with-in the virtual world. This creates a unique learning environment specific to the situation with which its being used.

Dave states, in his post, that Immersive Learning enables students to “experience” the subject matter allowing them to construct new knowledge and meanings supporting the idea that the learning came from the attributes of the medium and not a by product of it. Citing results from a student poll conducted in 2017 he also points out the connection to VR’s distraction free learning environment and a resultant increase in connection between the student and the subject as a means of increased retention of information.

Clark states in his rebuttal to Kozma that that in order for the media to be considered as having affected learning, it’s attributes must be solely responsible for the learning and not a by product of the delivery mode. To that end, I would suggest that Immersive learning’s unique delivery method is an exclusive attribute and as such provides a unique cognitive effect for the learning task. Reflecting upon Kozma idea of subjecting media to a “replicability test” I find it hard to envision another means of delivering information that would provide the same exposure and immersion as Virtual Learning. Certainly, video and television can both provide dynamic symbology elements but neither can eliminate distractions or elicit the same focused attention. An audio or aural delivery using headphones would certainly isolate the learner from audio distractions but not visual ones. I think Virtual Immersive Learning would pass a “replicability test” and qualify as possessing exclusive attributes that affect learning.


The Influences of Technology and Media on Learning Process.

In Mufarrohah’s article “The Influences of Technology and Media on Learning Process”, multiple sources and authors are used to display how and why media influences the learning process. Mufarrohah uses both Kozma and Clark within her article as a way of explaining that the learning process can and is open for personal interpretation. When Clark wrote “Media will never influence learning” (Clark, 1994), we were four years away from Google making an appearance and Wikipedia was a distant thought. Technology was at the beginning of a technological paradigm change with Clark’s thought process, where both students and teachers had yet been influenced by the modern technologies and software to come (Mufarrohah, 2016). Though Clark made an extremely compelling argument regarding instructional methods in regards to students preferring a face-to-face method, we see a stark contrast was provided by Mufarrohah’s research which states: “online enrollments in higher education was growing up 21%, whereas the growth for traditional way just only 2% since 2002” (Mufarrohah, 2016). The question should not necessarily be whether or not Media influences learning, but if the influence is positive or negative.

There were a few findings within the article that could be in contrast to Kozma’s train of thought, though still not necessarily aligning with Clark. For example, it is noted that there could be psychological effects for students in an unconventional environment and “students who failed to make online connections with other learners in their group reported feeling isolated and more stressed” (Mufarrohah, 2016). This doesn’t mean that the student would choose a “traditional design” as Clark stated, however it could affect what courses the student takes and how they respond to tasks. Clark did not take what steps/solutions an institution may implement into account and what avenues are being explored to assist students. This specific group activity is a great example of a group of students being encouraged to work together and make those online connections – reaching out and guiding each other to reduce stress and build a network. Kozma was able to see the technological shift happen 25 years ago and stated, “technology and media will give more opportunities to discover the potential relationship between teaching process and learning environments (Kozma, 1994)”. We have seen exponential growth in technology and media since both Kozma and Clark wrote their articles, one can only imagine what the next 25 years will bring – something Clark appears to have underestimated.

Mufarrohah, S. (2016, December 10). The Influences of Technology and Media on Learning Process. Retrieved from


Al’s Wide Open: The Future of Higher Education.

In 1994, Richard Clarke wrote the article Media will Never Influence Learning.  He claimed that ‘instructional methods influence learning’ (para. 2) and that there are ‘no learning benefits from media’ (para. 1).  Clarke postulated that media was one of many vehicles that could be used to deliver information to students and this vehicle that delivered information did not influence student achievement.  In order to understand the impact that technology has made on the education technology sector, we have to move the clock forward 25 years to 2019. Artificial intelligence has emerged in online education and it has positively impacted and more importantly influenced student achievement through the opportunity for personalized and adaptive learning (Duijser, 2019, para. 1).

In the blog post, AI’s wide open: the future of higher education, Duijser explains that personalized learning with artificial intelligence tailors the learning experience to the needs of the learner.  This is accomplished through a concept referred to as nudging which incorporates reinforcement and support of positive patterns of behaviour by providing the students prompts in areas of the course that they may be finding difficult.  Artificial intelligence can recognize the areas of difficulty for the students and guide the student to the right answer which is in effect identifying a teaching method required to assist the student. Artificial intelligence determines the teaching method based on the needs of the learner.  Clark suggested that ‘it is not the computer, but the teaching method built into CBI that accounts for the learning gains” (para.4). In Clark’s example the teaching method was determined by the instructional designer not by the media. Twenty-five years of educational technology has produced tools to provide feedback to students incorporating their preferred learning styles.

Artificial intelligence has also provided the opportunity for adaptive learning specific to students needs.  Duijser explains that artificial intelligence can define how the student sees the course material because based on how the student answers the question, subsequent content is constructed based on their first answer.  This means that several students studying the same information could be presented with different course materials and assessments based on their strengths and areas for growth. (para. 12). On the other hand, Clark (1994) suggested that ‘learning features may affect the economics but not the learning effectiveness of instruction’. (para 13).  Artificial intelligence creates effective and efficient learning outcomes for students by adapting to the students needs. In 1994, instructional designers could have adapted learning to students needs, if these needs were identified. With artificial intelligence everything is identified immediately – in real time.

Does History repeat itself?  Educational Technology has changed how we see the world and how we learn.  Educational technology history is not repeating itself – it is ever changing, actually changing our lives forever.


Immersive Reader Takes the Spotlight in Drama Class.

In this article, the author, who is the Head of Drama, Gifted and Talented Coordinator and MIE Expert at Dubai British School, talks about the use of technology in the classroom (drama classes), specifically Microsoft Teams (MT) and Immersive Reader (IR).

(Mayhew, 2019) described the benefits of MT and IR on the learning process specifically with personalized learning, and she argues that the attributes of media in MT and IR have had implications on students’ cognitive processes. One of the examples she provided to support her claim was: “I was asking students to learn entire scripts for one of their GCSE components on a tight timeline, but I needed to further break down the task. And Immersive Reader was just the tool to help students learn their scripts for their practical unit and take the pressure off” (Mayhew,2019, para. 5). The author’s claims support Kozma’s claims that media influences learning (Kozma, 1994). On the other hand, Clark (1994) argues that many very different media attributes accomplish the same learning goal. In this article (Mayhew, 2019) claims that MT and IR attributes can support learning. However, other ed-tech attributes can also achieve the same learning goal. Despite Clark’s opinion that “If there is no single media attribute that serves a unique cognitive effect for some learning task, then the attributes must be proxies for some other variables that are instrumental in learning gains” (Clark, 1994, para.2), this article shows how MT and IR attributes have supported students’ learning.


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

Dave Dolan’s blog: How Immersive Learning Empowers Students and Teachers Alike

Duijser, A. (2019, September 26).  AI’s wide open: the future of higher education.  Retrieved from

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

Mayhew, L., (2019, August, 22). Immersive Reader takes the spotlight in Drama class. Retrieved from