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.

References:

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 https://daily.jstor.org/how-blackboards-transformed-american-education/

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 https://medium.com/@_mufarrohah/the-influences-of-technology-and-media-on-learning-process-de86ac9d7da6.

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 https://medium.com/@_mufarrohah/the-influences-of-technology-and-media-on-learning-process-de86ac9d7da6.

 

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.

References

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 https://edtechnology.co.uk/Blog/ais-wide-open-the-future-of-higher-education/

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 https://educationblog.microsoft.com/en-us/2019/08/immersive-reader-takes-the-spotlight-in-drama-class/#Lcq6kLiZRuFCGEKb.99