LRNT 523

In reading the article “screen time guidelines should be based on evidence, not hype” by Etchells et al., it is difficult to go against the position of ‘science’ based empirical pursuit. But, let me play ‘devil’s advocate’ in this rebuttal post, posing for the opposition to the proposition’s case. Etchells et al. (2017) argue, in response to a letter written by Palmer et al., that “we need quality research and evidence to support these claims and inform any policy discussion” (para. 2). Their argument is in response to Palmer et al. (2016) who argue in a letter that “despite widespread public concern, subsequent policy-making has been half-hearted, short-termist and disjointedly ineffective” (para. 2) in regards to “increasingly screen-based lifestyles” (para. 1) of children. Etchells et al. (2017) make the case that the solution to this problem is effective empirical research which in turn will increase the probability of good policy. They assert not enough empirical and science-based evidence is present in the literature to warrant the response of Palmer and her colleagues.

On a quick glance and read of the article, most individuals would probably agree with Etchells et al. After all, are they wrong in anything they assert? I have read their article many times over now and have to say, I do not really disagree with the principles they assert. After all, good empirical research is usually always helpful and the notion that policies should be based on good evidence is also true. But what about their word choice or diction inherently required for them to do the rebuttal in the first place…words like moral, family, and well-being, to name a few within the article. Policy cannot simply be based on the notion of good empirical research. Are the 40 signatories of education professionals, not-for-profit agencies, and health professionals who align their views with Palmer some how catastrophizing the children technology usage issue? My answer to that, No.

As a childcare professional and childcare manager for numerous facilities, prior to my military career, I understand the position of Palmer and her colleagues. I saw too many times children from ages 4-12 addicted to their phones, tablets and smart devices alike. I saw children who refused to want to interact on a physical level with other children, but were perfectly fine, if not adamant, to interact with other kids between their smart devices. Is there anything wrong with the technologically inclined child, lets call them the digitally native child? The answer depends, in my opinion, on your worldview. What inherent principles or moral codes do you hold to? What does it mean to you to be in good relationship with another person? Watching a child refuse to play tag with all the other kids, but someone was fine to play a car racing game on their smart phone seemed wrong on so many levels to me. By no means by any empirical standard, but from my worldview position.

Policy formation is complicated and multifaceted. I assert that empirical evidence can indeed aid in the policy formation of children screen usage – whatever that actually looks like. However, I also assert that non-empirical evidence is equally important in this case, perhaps arguably more important. Policies based on the almost metaphysical concepts of terms like family and well-being, deserve a multitude of evidence-based approaches and data. Data such as anecdotal evidences, survey polls, and approaches for viewpoint consensus such as formal debate may be useful. Etchells et al. (2017) said themselves that the “acknowledgement that children’s health is a complex issue” must be realized (para. 3). Moreover, their evidence within the literature was inconclusive, with most articles hinting that Palmer and colleagues may have research backed merit to their so-called exaggerated analysis (see Mills, 2016; George & Odjers, 2015; Gebremariam  et al., 2013; and Briddle et al., 2004).

After this rebuttal, you can start to see my unintentional worldview take shape. But you can arguably see the worldview of both Etchells et al. and Palmer et al. equally take shape as well in their articles. Something to think about when pondering policy production.



Briddle, S.J., Gorely, T., Marshall S.J., Murdey, I., & Cameron, N. (2004). Physical activity and sedentary behaviours in youth: issues and controversies. Journal of the Royal Society for the Promotion of Health, 124(1), 29-33. Retrieved from:

Etchells, P., et al. (January 6, 2017). Screen-time guidelines should be built on evidence, not hype. The Guardian. Retrieved from:

Gebremariam, M.K., et al. (2013). Are screen-based sedentary behaviours longitudinally associated with dietary behaviours and leisure-time physical activity in the transition into adolescence? International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity, 10(9). doi: 10.1186/1479-5868-10-9

George, M.J., & Odgers, C.L. (2015). Seven fears and the science of how mobile technologies may be influencing adolescents in the digital age. Journal of the Association for Psychological Science, 10(6), 832-851. doi: 10.1177/1745691615596788

Mills, K.L. (2016). Possible effects of internet use on cognitive development in adolescence. Media and Communication, 4(3). doi:

Palmer, S., et al. (December, 25, 2016). Screen-based lifestyle harms children’s health. The Guardian. Retrieved from:

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How Media Affects Learning

How Media Affects Learning

Posted By on Oct 8, 2019

Written By: Shared post between Laren Helfer, Sandra Kuipers, Kathy Moore, Mark Regan


Clark (1994) and Kozma (1994) see opposite sides of the issue regarding if and how media influences learning.  As a team, we were tasked with looking at what is happening in the field to see if or how media affects learning.  Here are four articles we found with our thoughts on the great debate between Clark and Kozma.


3 Ways Big Data is Changing Education Forever  


Big data refers to large volumes of data bytes, which can be mined for information to provide a company with valuable, and otherwise inaccessible pieces of information about their customers. In 3 Ways Big Data is Changing Education Forever, Das (2019) describes how the affordances of big data can be applied to, and are impacting education. The nature of bytes existing as digital pieces of information, renders the impacts discussed by Das as relevant to education which has been delivered across a digital platform. Instruction delivered via traditional means would not generate bytes of information to analyze. If the digital platform (perhaps an LMS or a website) is understood to be the media of the instructional delivery, it would mean that it is the media itself, or the way by which the instruction is delivered and not the design of the instruction delivered by the media that is impacting education. That is, if the media was changed to a non-digital mode of delivery, any potential impacts of big data could not be realized. This is contrary to the Clark’s (1994) position that media does not influence learning; that it is merely a vehicle for delivering content, and that it is the design of the content that impacts learning.


Das (2019) points out that assessment and feedback are integral components of the learning process. When content is delivered via a digital media platform, big data can be used to illuminate elements about how a learner interacts with the content (e.g., how many times they return to certain pages, how long they view pages, how long it takes to answer questions, etc.). The analysis of this data can be applied to instructional design. The instructor can either provide the analysis as feedback to the student, modify subsequent instruction to better address learning needs, or even design automatic modifications into the software so that the digital course itself can modify the instruction to suit the individual learning needs it identifies. The bytes of data analyzed which enable these insights and interventions could not be obtained if the content was not delivered digitally. Therefore, digital media would be necessary to influence learning in exactly this way.


Clark (1994) challenges would-be critics of his arguments to consider; when media is being used instructionally, if there are any attributes of that “media that are not replaceable by a different set of media and attributes to achieve similar learning results for any given student and learning task” (p. 22). The potential of big data to afford enhanced assessment and feedback opportunities, relies on the attribute of digital media that it has the capacity to generate bytes of data. While this does not require only one specific type of software or platform be used to deliver content, it does implicate the choice of media as being an integral component as to whether or not the learning opportunities afforded by big data could be realized.


The Influences of Technology and Media on Learning Process


In this article, the author seeks to explain the general concepts behind the pros and cons of media usages on learning. The article begins through reflection by explaining that technology is omni-present in many facets of learning and that the modern technology we see today, including computers and tablets, are changing the roles of both teachers and learners (Mufarroahah, 2016, para. 1). The article does justice to the dichotomy presented by Clark and Kozma. Kozma (1994) has made the case that media and learning are in a positive relationship, giving more opportunities for not only the learning environment itself, but the teaching process as well. Clark (1994) has taken a position that “there are no learning advantages from using technology and media in the learning process” (Mufarrohah, 2016, para. 3). The article in its conclusion is telling, in terms of what side the author leans in the great media debate. The author has sought to show the positive learning effects media in general can give the education community. Examples were presented such as Reeves’ (1998) cognitive tools reflection and beyond traditional teaching norms reflection, both of which point to the positive effects to which Kozma makes a case in his arguments. The author overall has presented both sides in an appropriate and fair manner, but leans to the side of Kozma  that media enhances the learning process and that there exists a positive relationship between them.


Make personalized learning a reality for your students 


In this article, Microsoft presents a vision of personalized learning through collaboration tools, artificial intelligence, and immersive mixed reality. Images of touch-screen devices and colourful overlays of educational content embellish this message. Microsoft suggests that, for students to learn and thrive, they need the latest technologies: that these technologies “can transform a classroom” (Microsoft, 2019, para. 12) and “stimulate learning” (para. 10). The message conveyed is that personalization requires technology. Microsoft suggests that personalization “can be challenging for a teacher” (para. 8): why not solve these problems with artificial intelligence and machine learning? The article’s argument is backed with a glossy PDF of research by Microsoft and McKinsey, presenting data and infographics about the importance of social-emotional skills and critical thinking in future workplaces. Yet, this argument breaks down when critiqued against Clark’s (1994) argument of media vs. method. Do social-emotional skills and critical thinking require OneNote and Microsoft PowerPoint? Clark cautions that “we continue to invest heavily in expensive media in the hope that they will produce gains in learning” (para. 18). However, at the heart of learning is the method of instruction, and the method should not be confounded with the medium. Clark (1994) argues that “all methods required for learning can be delivered by a variety of media and media attributes” (para. 16). With Clark’s argument in mind, one shouldn’t discount educational technology either, yet it should be approached with a critical eye. McLuhan (1964) famously suggested that “the medium is the message,” which Kozma (1994) maintains and Clark disputes. As educators and technologists decide where they align in The Great Media Debate, it’s also important to ask: When does the message itself become lost behind the shiny touch-screen wifi-enabled augmented-reality medium?


Université de Montréal Opens Quebec’s First Virtual Reality Optometry Lab in Partnership with FYidoctors | Visique


This article introduces a new technology that the University of Montreal and FYidoctors | Visique are using to better the education of optometrists.  The media behind the technology is a simulation lab that provides students with experience in a virtual reality environment. The media allows students to work with real patient scenarios, but in the security of a simulated environment, where there is no risk to patient care.  Working in the lab provides students with the learning opportunity to experience everything from common to rare pathologies, allowing them to gain enough experience to be prepared to work on live patients. 


The concept behind the lab goes against Clark’s (1994) position that media does not enhance learning.   Clark states “…computer simulation was used to teach students some skills required to fly a plane…people learned to fly planes before computers were developed and therefore the media attributes required to learn were obviously neither exclusive to computers nor necessary for learning to fly” (Clark, 1994, p. 11); however, just because learning once occurred without media does not mean that it cannot occur.  The media discussed in this article provides students with a learning experience that was not otherwise available, meaning that without this media their education would be missing a vital practical component. While optometrists did always receive the required education for the job, this media advances their learning, resulting in better optometrists. If the use of media enhances learning, then there is a strong relationship between the two.  As Kozma states, “[media will] advance the development of our field and contribute to the restructuring of schools and the improvement of education and training” (Kozma, 1994, p. 23), this concept makes media more than a learning tool, but a method critical to learning, which is applied by the simulation lab by the University of Montreal and FYidoctors | Visique.




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), 7-19.

Microsoft. (2019, May 2). Make personalized learning a reality for your students. Retrieved from


Mufarrohah, St. (2016, December 09). The influences of technology and media on learning processes [Blog Post]. Retrieved from


Reeves, T.C. (1998). The impact of media and technology in schools. The Journal of Art and Design Education, 4, 58-63. Retrieved from

Université de Montréal Opens Quebec’s First Virtual Reality Optometry Lab in Partnership with FYidoctors | Visique. (2019, October 3). Cision. Retrieved from

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Written By: Mark Regan & Kerry Sharples

Writing a book may seem as simple as coming up with an idea and putting pen to paper. However, a quick internet search on the topic will reveal that the process of writing a book is much more complicated. Web pages, blogs, and forums fill the digital space, offering advice and rules regarding not only writing, but publishing and marketing, as well as the countless subcategories within, like world building and dialogue, self or traditional publication, or Twitter or Instagram. As Weller (2011) points out, we are living in a time of change, a time of abundant content production and distribution. With this abundance of content comes new possibilities for learning, both academic and hobby, though it also has never been more challenging to navigate and process what seems like a never ending information, which in turn makes endeavours, such as writing a book, all the more daunting.

The clear abundance of resources at your fingertips when learning or teaching not only is found in written and online literature but also in media content as well. Within the technological modern-age we live in, copious other resources such as YouTube and other media platforms can be a source of learning materials too. When searching YouTube on How to Write a Book? A plethora of video clips is given to the searcher numbering in the thousands. Each video explaining some aspect or wealth of wisdom and/or knowledge to impart on the viewer. Jenkins (2018) states “speed is not the point; quality is the point” (0:25) when it comes to writing a book. However, Project Life Mastery (2015) states on their YouTube channel that although it is a “big task to write a book…one must break it down into more achievable pieces” (2:12) in order to complete the task. Whatever the advice or knowledge may be, the idea of abundance continues to be in the face of learners and educators. Weller (2011) however, makes a good point about abundance when he suggests that the abundance of resources is not just a learning centric issue. He points out that “the opposite may be true, for example an individual’s attention is not abundant, and is time-limited” (Weller, 2011, pg. 10). Abundance appears to be a multifaceted issue and begs the question how does education approach the abundance in general? Weller (2011) looks at this very question and suggests the answer is two fold: firstly, he points to the fact that educators need to be more prepared in their pedagogy and thus resilient to the possible negative effects of abundance and educators need to “equip their learners with the skills they need in an age of digital abundance” (pg. 10).

Researching how to write a book revealed that the task has many different routes, each approach personal and varied. Anyone who has, or is trying to write a book, has opinions and points that they believe is essential to the process. A quick Twitter survey came back with many viewpoints about the brainstorming process, with suggestions of brain mapping, point form plotting, and cloud mapping to name a few. This wealth of varying replies further demonstrates the abundance of information spoken about by Weller (2011) and seemed only to add to the intensity of the task. This vastness of content seems to hearken to the idea of Heutagogy, spoken about by Anderson (2016). The idea of self driven learning seems even more relevant in a digital age of free and accessible information. Self driven learning, like abundant content, is two-fold, providing freedom to learn and research an endless array of topics, though accompanied with the need to learn how to utilize these infinite resources effectively and appropriately. This seems to suggest a responsibility of the learner, as well as the content developer, to provide useful and digestible information as to be relevant in Weller’s (2011) age of change.

Weller (2011) concludes that society as a whole is “witnessing a fundamental change in the production of knowledge and our relationship to content” (pg. 10). The immense volume of digital content, whether written literature or media formatted, is a clear sustained issue to both learners and educators alike. When attempting to ask the question, how does one write a book? The abundance of data is too much to handle if learners are not equipped to handle the amount of data and/or the types of data for that matter. Clearly one cannot simply watch ten thousand videos in their spare time; no one has that much time. Learners need to know how to identify resources that are beneficial to them directly for their end goal and know how to use the resources as well. It seems society is only going to present a greater abundance in resources, now it appears up to the learner to get equipped with the skills to use the abundance in the best way possible, maybe even to ask the question, how do I write a book?



Anderson, T. (2016). Chapter 3: Theories for Learning with Emerging Technologies. In Veletsianos, G. (Ed). Emergence and Innovation in Digital Learning: Foundations and Applications. Edmonton, AB: Athabasca University Press.

James, S. [Project Life Mastery]. (2015, September 15). How to write a book for beginners [Video file]. Retrieved from

Jenkins, J.B. (2018, October 01). How to write a book: 13 steps from a bestselling author [Video file]. Retrieved from

Weller, M. (2011). A pedagogical abundance. Spanish Journal of Pedagogy, 249, 223-236. Retrieved from

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Learning within the field of aerospace control has countless hurdles for individuals who attempt a career in this difficult vocation. Hurdles can be in the form of learning within a high stress environment, complexity of material, technology overload, and even financial considerations for training. Xing and Manning (2005) describe air traffic control, a branch within aerospace control, as a “dynamic environment where controllers constantly receive a large volume of information from multiple sources to monitor changes in the environment, make decisions, and perform effective actions in a timely manner” (p. 1). Learning environments that have heavy complexity such as the one described above require extremely efficient and effective curricula, instruction, and learning resources in order to provide students with the best chance of success. Instructional designers have a huge task, specifically described by Ertmer and Newby to “translate principles of learning and instruction into specifications for instructional materials and activities” within the realm of aerospace control education (as cited in Smith & Ragan, 1993, p. 12). But apart from providing key instructional design elements, which are integral to any learning course design, Ertmer and Newby (2013) suggest and more poignantly argue the notion that instructional designers should be urged to consider which learning theory is applicable to the learning environment of interest (see also Snelbecker, 1983). Although it may seem highly relevant for instructional designers to take learning theories into account in relation to their work, “less than two percent of the courses offered in university curricula in the general area of educational technology emphasize ‘theory’ as one of their key concepts” (Ertmer & Newby, 2013, p. 45). This lends to the possible issue that instructional designers are not routinely defining which learning theory(ies) is/are applicable to their job at hand. The question in this introductory blog entry seeks to answer the question: what applicable learning theory applies best to aerospace control?


In order to answer the above question, one first must know how to distinguish one learning theory from another. Ertmer and Newby (2013) propose five “definitive questions that serve to distinguish each learning theory from others: how does learning occur? which factors influence learning? What is the role of memory? How does transfer occur? And what types of learning are best explained by the theory?” (p. 46). In applying these questions to the job learning environment within aerospace control, cognitivism theory most closely aligns itself in the context to answering the five questions posed by Ertmer and Newby. In aerospace control, learning occurs based on how information is obtained through knowledge acquisition and internal mental structures (Ertmer & Newby, 2013; see also Bower & Hilgard, 1981). Instructors apply set discrete expected knowledge and proficiency levels that students must attain. Note, a student’s proficiency level may not meet the expected proficiency level within a particular phase of aerospace control training. Aerospace control learning emphasizes the role of environmental factors as key influencers in learning which aligns itself with cognitivism. In terms of when the transfer occurs, as described by Ertmer and Newby (2013), “transfer occurs when a learner understands how to apply knowledge in different contexts” (pg. 52). This also aligns very readily with aerospace control learning and instruction in that aerospace controllers must demonstrate application of knowledge through pre-set simulator exercises as they progress through training phases. “Workers in the aviation environment are often highly skilled professionals who are required to have a large body of knowledge ready for application in a range of contexts; trainers with an understanding of cognitive processes…are better equipped to assist trainees in the type of preparation needed to function in highly skilled and demanding jobs” such as those in the aerospace control community (Henley, 2003, pg. 17). Although it appears that aerospace control learning environments readily support cognitivism theory, it does not necessarily mean that this is the best theory or only theory to apply to such a complex learning environment. A more comprehensive analysis of aerospace control training as a whole would be required in order to properly deduce what main theory(ies) is/are most relevant to today’s learners and learning environments.





Bower, G.H., & Hilgard, E.R. (1981). Theories of learning (5th ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall


Ertmer. P., & Newby, T. (2013). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 23(2), 43-71. doi: 10.1002/piq


Henley, I.M.A. (2003). Aviation Education and Training. London: Rutledge


Smith, P.L., & Ragan, T.J. (1993). Instructional Design. New York: Macmillan


Snelbecker, G.E. (1983). Learning theory, instructional theory, and psychoeducational design. New York: McGraw-Hill


Xing, J., & Manning, C.A. (2005). Complexity and automation displays of air traffic control: Literature review and analysis (Report No. DOT/FAA/AM-05/4). Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation Federal Aviation Administration.

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Ode to Alan Kay: Pioneer to EduTech

Ode to Alan Kay: Pioneer to EduTech

Posted By on Sep 14, 2019

It is hard to imagine someone without some type of personal computer, tablet or communicative device in present time. They have been become mainstream, both inside our homes and within learning environments. Their educational potential benefits have been documented extensively in literature and have far reaching applications within education such as assisting those with disabilities (Priest & May, 2001). Briggs and Blair (2016) describe that “educational technology in the form of information and communication technology is now common place in the modern classroom” (p. 545; see also Lawless & Pellegrino). Some secondary and elementary schools provide 1:1 laptop distribution for students to have an immersive technological experience while learning (Zucker & Hug, 2008). Within their research study Zucker and Hug state that “more than 90% of [seniors] report that the laptops have had a positive impact on how much they learn from school, and nearly the same fraction report that the laptops help make class more interesting” (Zucker & Hug, 2008, p. 589). This influx of technology infused into our education systems has been aided by pioneer and computer science guru Alan Kay. Watters (2014) describes Alan Kay as a pivotal instrument in education and technology. In her book “The Monsters of Education Technology”, Watters (2014) describes that Alan Kay is responsible for the development and production of Dynabook, a tablet like device designed to be the personal computer for all children. She credits him with designing ‘Smalltalk,’ the computer language used in education technology that aided constructionist learning. After ‘smalltalk’ came bigger computer language programs more common to present day such as Java and Python. It is clear that contributions from Alan Kay and others with the talent for programming combined with innovative foresight have made the field of education and technology what it is today. The historical contributions he made back in the 60-80s can still be felt and seen today. Alan Kay’s contributions truly describe what it is to be a pioneer in this field.

Here is more about Alan Kay:





Briggs, G. & Blair, E. (2016). Everyday personal laptop usage in secondary schools in Trinidad and Tobago. Education and Information Technology, 21, 545-558. doi: 10.1007/s10639-014-9338-4

Lawless, K.A., & Pellegrino, J.W. (2007). Professional development in integrating technology into teaching and learning: Knowns, unknowns, and ways to pursue better questions and answers. Review of Educational Research, 77, 575-614.

Priest, N., & May, E. (2001). Laptop computers and children with disabilities: Factors influencing success. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 48, 11-23. doi: 10.111/j.1440-1630.2001.00220.x

Watters, A. (2014). History of the Future of Ed-Tech, Chapter 1. In Monsters of Education Technology. Licensed under the Creative Commons CC BY-SEA. Retrieved from

Zucker, A.A., & Hug, S.T. (2008). Teaching and learning physics in a 1:1 laptop school. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 17, 586-594. doi: 10.1007/s10956-008-9125-3

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